FK chats to Kate about bringing strong value and sense of history together with her Men’s label Leo & Spargo, based in Fremantle Perth.
Tell us a bit about Leo & Spargo and what products we can expect to discover?
The Leo and Spargo story began with my great grandfather (in law) and his camel, Spargo. Leo was a soldier, a cameleer and an opera singer. He was an adventurer and explorer, but could also cut a dash in polite company. Like most men of his day, he was always dressed with style and class, whether in a theatre or a stable. Leo and Spargo products are all about this mix of masculinity and culture. Our t-shirts and accessories are inspired by vintage work-wear and labels, and are durable while also effortlessly stylish.
Who are the team behind Leo & Spargo and what are their roles?
My name is Kate, and I’m the owner and designer of Leo and Spargo. I am the illustrator, leather maker and risk taker. My husband Daniel contributes with his family history (Leo was his great grandfather), heavy lifting, and from time-to-time a much-needed dose of reality. I keep my head in the clouds where I find all sorts of puns and inspiration, and he is my voice of reason, keeping us on target and moving forward.
What do you love about working with Men’s clothing and accessories? and what keeps you creatively motivated?
I grew up with four brothers, and very strong male role models. From an Olympian grandfather who had an exotic animal farm and a home for troubled youth, to a father who has travelled almost every country from top to toe. I love designing simple, genuine products that reflect the strength of men like them. Products that they could take with them on their wanderings. I’m inspired by stories like theirs, and every time I can pick up a pen or a piece of leather and an awl, and create something with my own two hands, I feel connected to a simpler time and traditional values. That feeling keeps me coming back for more.
What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
Our brand is based in Fremantle, Western Australia, and I work from our place, which used to be the local publican’s house. Our little village and space is full of history and inspiration. We have two little ones at home though, so I work wherever and whenever I can find a place and time in amongst the chaos. I’ll think through designs at the park and pull out sketches and tools after bedtime. My work provides a little bit of clarity and creative exploration in a life otherwise centered around my kids, so when I can concentrate on the brand I’m more appreciative of the design process, and am learning to be focused in order to be able to achieve what I aim to, in between slides and story-telling.
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
After working as a designer for several years for other brands in the action sports industry, I love the ability to design with more freedom and meaning. I want to create products that last longer than the latest trend, and that remind people about a slower time. To be able to do that, and not simply be driven by the latest fashion or sales is incredible. Working alone as a designer is definitely challenging though, and it’s hard to get outside of your own head and keep advancing, and not remaining stagnant. I’m still learning how to juggle all these different areas of life as well, and looking forward to someday feeling like I’m giving my best to both my brand and my family.
What can we expect to see from Leo & Spargo at the upcoming Sydney Markets?
We’ll be coming to Sydney with bells on, and suitcases full. We have a range of t-shirts that are all hand illustrated and distressed, with typefaces inspired by vintage menswear labels. Recently, we’ve been pouring ourselves into a new range of accessories, timeless headwear and superior leather goods. All of our products are created to embody that blend of masculinity and culture, present in Leo’s life, and with the same versatility present in the fashion of his day.