INTERVIEW: Polyester Galaxy

Reviewed by: Tahlia Sanders

Some of you may have heard of Polyester Galaxy, with its delicious online assortment of one-of-a-kind vintage and new pieces. Each item appears as though it has leapt from your Tumblr feed, enlivened by pure intensity of kawaii.

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography

Polyester Galaxy has previously cultivated a unique presence on social media (including Tumblr) and at miscellaneous local market events. Recently, thought, they have decided to take it a step further by launching their first bricks-and-mortar pop-up store in Northbridge.

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography
Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography

I attended the Polyester Galaxy launch party last Friday and, immediately upon walking through the door, was greeted with good vibes and the best kind of chromatic assault. There was a DJ and drinks. The walls were adorned with ALEX’s trademark sequined, stickered, kaleidoscopic, don’t-know-where-to-look-first killer artwork. There was a bookshelf of zines and artwork that did more to stimulate my thirst for creative consumption than to satiate it, leaving my curiosity whet and my understanding of art significantly more refined. And of course, the room was encircled by rack-upon-rack of clothing fit for a Harajuku street-style queen. Hand-painted denim jackets, incredible vintage pieces and kitschy-cool jewellery were just some of the items I happened across in the sartorial wonderland.

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography

My brief encounter with Polyester Galaxy’s inimitable brand of style left me wondering at the man who was behind it all and how we might expect this style to permeate Perth fashion in future. I caught up with the founder, Michael, to find out more.

Hi Michael, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in fashion?

Sure! I guess I would describe myself as someone who doesn’t like to take things too seriously. I love wearing fun, bright, nostalgic clothes and have an extensive playlist of 90’s pop trash. I really love second-hand clothing, and I’ve been selling handmade clothes and vintage at markets for quite a while now (about 5 years). I don’t have any formal training in fashion. Most of what I have learnt is from making my own clothes or altering clothes that didn’t fit me, and from altering/making things to sell at markets and to throw up onto Etsy.

Can you fill us in on the Polyester Galaxy story? What triggered you to create the label and what were the growth stages in the lead up to your approaching pop up shop launch?

I think most of it started from being a super stingy student, from really loving op shopping, and from being too short to actually fit into anything that I would find. Everything I wanted to buy and that I loved would always be 10 sizes too big for me. Instead of just not buying the clothes that didn’t fit (which would have been the sensible thing to do), I would buy them and alter them until they were my size. From there, I started to make my own clothes, as well as buying and altering vintage clothing. At the time, I was doing all of that while doing an arts degree at uni. I slowly came to realise that what I was studying wasn’t really what I was passionate about at all, and that owning my own shop was what was really going to make me happy. So I guess it’s been my dream for a few years now to have a little shop all of my own and I’m really excited that it’s finally about to happen!

What is the process behind each Polyester Galaxy piece in terms of your involvement in its creation? Where do you find inspiration? Have you found that your creative process has changed as your label has grown and matured?

Most of the clothes that I sell are currently not designed by me! I do really love making my own clothes, but I think if I had to make all the 300+ items of clothing in my shop I would never get any sleep. I’m currently in the process of trying to get a few t-shirt designs printed, and hopefully will also be venturing into making my own designs soon. I also hope to have a selection of clothes made by local artists/designers (such as hand painted jackets and screen printed t-shirts) in store soon. I currently don’t have too much of that, either, but I’m on the look out for more!

Definitely most of my inspiration comes from the Internet (or, more specifically, Tumblr). I think that there’s so much amazing fashion and art out there that Perth just isn’t getting to explore yet. I think people are really eager to finally have those styles brought here. I really love Harajuku-style street fashion, vaporwave fashion, and all the pastel cutesy fashion you find online. It’s all really starting to take off all over the world, and I can’t wait to see it taking off in Perth.

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography

What inspires your decision to stock both vintage and new clothing?

I think both new and vintage clothes have something really great that they can offer. Vintage clothing can have such strong nostalgia to it, and it’s great how some things look like they have been plucked straight out of their era. So, a jacket is not just a jacket, but it has a whole history behind it. For example, I once found a vintage Sportsgirl jacket that had a movie ticket from 1986 still in the pocket!

New clothes can really fill in some of the gaps of vintage clothing. They bring in a new style that accompanies different art forms and social movements. My wardrobe is made up of a pretty solid 50/50 split of new and vintage clothing, and I think both can blend together to make something really unique.

Who is the Polyester Galaxy customer and how would you describe their aesthetic?

The person that would come to my shop would be of any gender, would have their own personal style, and would wear something other than the ordinary. They might wear all black and white, or possibly wear clothes with bright colours and bold prints. Since my shop is going for a sort of vaporwave-y, 90’s colourful Harajuku, seapunk, sports goth kind of vibe. Anyone that kind of fits under that umbrella would (hopefully) find something that they like!

Your pop up store will feature art and zines from other local creatives. What was your vision in encouraging this collaboration? How do you see fashion interacting with art in your store and in broader culture?

Well I have a few friends (who I love) who are artists and creatives, and I have seen how it can be pretty tricky to break through and get noticed. So I thought it would be really neat to have an easy way for people to be able to show off their art and zines in the one shop, it would really help them get their names out there. I’m hoping to have different artists works put up in the store’s walls too, changing the artists about every three weeks. My shop will almost function as part art gallery, part clothing store. I think that art and fashion can both be super related. They both draw inspiration from each other, so it makes sense for them to be featured together.

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography

What’s next for Polyester Galaxy?

Who knows! I am definitely hoping to put more of a focus on the online side of things. So, once my physical store is more established I’ll be able to start putting a lot more up on my online shop. There’s a bit up there right now, but definitely not as much as there should be. I’ve already had quite a bit of interest from people interstate and overseas, so it would be hella rad to be able to get my online store running for the whole world to see!

Michael is constantly seeking new artists and zines to showcase within Polyester Galaxy – if you’d like to be featured or know someone who would, message the Polyester Galaxy Facebook page. AND if you want to see more photos from the launch, check out Natalie Swift as well.

The first official day of trading was Saturday October 17th. Make sure to check out the store next time you’re in Northbridge!

Image Credit: Natalie Swift Photography