“A little camp and a little loyal.”
Dallas Hurst’s journey to form his almost eponymous label, Dallas Hurts, was hardly a linear one. After a life-changing experience, two design schools and three school dropouts, he began assembling a collection from a Sydney shared warehouse turned studio. Devoting time to learning the principles of pattern making, garment construction and high-quality design, the Dallas-based brand began “after a year of doing the fundamentals.”
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It’s this attention to and respect for fashion design that has allowed Dallas to turn the classics upside down, subverting the epitome of menswear. Below he talks about experimentation, process and the local fashion industry.
Tell us about you. What is your creative background?
I was into drawing and art very young but at the age of 11 I became obsessed with architecture. I started drawing houses until I found Sims 3. Every day after school I would come home and build houses all night. At that time we were living with my mom’s ex-boyfriend, he was a graphic designer and had a huge collection of design books.
He left when I was 14, so I stole a lot of those books and still have them with me to this day. They formed the basis of my understanding of design. I went to a creative arts high school in Sydney, which really nurtured [my love for design] too. There was no uniform, which was very important to me. I’ve always cared about fashion and personal style, it’s been the most meaningful thing in my life since I was 12… ever since, it consumes me.
During my first year after high school, I found myself in a very bad situation that almost ruined my life. In this situation, I made myself a promise. If I did, I would start taking it seriously and dedicate my life to fashion design. It’s dramatic but yes, it was the start of everything.
How did the label start? Tell us about the process and the challenges.
The following year, I started fashion school. I ended up dropping out three times, three years in a row, in two different schools. I was never going to get out of this. I was completely out of control, immature and spent all my time doing the wrong things.
I saw other people around me balancing life and college very well, but I was one of those who couldn’t. After dropping out for the last time – with almost no skills, $50,000 debt and no degree – my best friend (Fergus Fowler of Senzer Online) and I started renting a warehouse studio to make clothes.
I taught myself how to make patterns, how to sew and how to make clothes. It was early in COVID so I lost my job, got on Centrelink and just made clothes everyday. I moved out of my mom’s house in town and moved into the same warehouse we had the studio. I lived there for almost two years and every day was just about making clothes and developing my skills.
Without a degree, I knew it would be harder for me to break into the industry, so I started the brand as a way to build a portfolio with what I had. This is where the label started and after a year of working on the fundamentals I started experimenting with model making and found my style.
What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has that evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?
In the beginning, I was just trying to make clothes and put them online, build a portfolio and maybe people would end up buying them. I wanted to give myself a second chance at a career as a designer and as I recovered and developed my skills I began to articulate what I wanted to communicate through my design.
At this point, the best way to frame it is a postmodern take on menswear…removing function and historical relevance and replacing them with exaggerated silhouettes and obscure cuts, reflecting the subcultures I have discoveries. Basically, I want to do genderless menswear.
I want to address the cultural and historical impacts of silhouette, form and how these things affect the way we express ourselves through clothing. What we wear is so steeped in history…most of us don’t even know where certain styles come from, I want to take what’s already [exists] and fold it.
How would you describe Dallas Hurts to someone who has never seen him before?
A dramatic, exaggerated and reconstructed take on menswear, designed for someone who isn’t fazed by others’ perceptions of it. A little camp and a little loyal.
Which piece are you most proud of?
The Wave pants are definitely what I’m most proud of. When I had the idea for the pattern, I started experimenting with the shape. It was one of the first times I visualized the pattern before sketching and exactly how the shape would create the overall silhouette of the garment.
The custom pair I made for DJ Thick Owens’ wedding is what I’m most proud of. He’s someone I grew up with and always admired, so it was a very complete moment for me.
What did you wish you had known when you started?
Take your time, don’t rush, and focus on the fundamentals first. Everyone wants to do some crazy bullshit right off the bat, but you need to fully understand clothing construction and pattern making before you can experiment. Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Just focus on yourself and the progress of your own work and ideas.
Who do you think is the most exciting in the local fashion industry right now?
First, my studio partner Fergus, who runs Senzer Online. I love what Alix Higgins is doing with prints, what Phillip O’Donahoo is doing with recycling, and I love what Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp is doing in womenswear. Flux 2.0 makes great bags and Diaspora does an amazing job, as does Hilary.
Also, Melbourne’s Die Horny is sick. I don’t really care for most of the local designers who are already established. I think the most exciting designers are young people making wild shit out of scraps of fabric in their bedrooms or studios. A lot of established local designers don’t seem to really push the envelope or do anything new, but I won’t go into that.
What about the local fashion industry that needs to change?
It’s tough but the world doesn’t need your streetwear brand. There are too many cheap clothes in the world and I don’t agree with [people] launch labels with only the intention of making money or adopting designer steeze.
I think local designers should try to create interesting, high quality clothing with a focus on real sustainability, not streetwear products that will fall apart and end up in a landfill or end up in Salvos in a few years. Also, only do custom-made. I love streetwear but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Always quality over quantity.
Dream local collaborators?
I try to collaborate with whoever does experimental clothing in the local scene. All the people I just named before and more. I would really like to work for Perks and Mini one day. I really respect what they have created as a brand and what they stand for. It’s one of the only Australian labels I’d like to work with.
Who’s in your wardrobe right now?
Raf Simons. I’ve been obsessed since I was 14, but it wasn’t until this year that I was able to afford to start collecting. [Also] a bit of Commes des Garçons, Jeremy Scott x Adidas shoes, my own pieces I made and random thrift stores.
Where can we buy your clothes?
On my site, it’s linked to my Instagram. I’ve had to take a step back recently to work and save so I can reinvest but a new collection [is] Coming soon.
Anything else to add?
If there are any kids reading this who want to make a label, I urge you to learn pattern making and clothing construction. Take your favorite clothes apart and put them back together. It’s definitely a long road, but it will work in your favor one day when you can execute your ideas with confidence. Understanding is everything.
Browse the Dallas Hurts collection here.