Lifestyle label Sim & Mack is the latest to enter Adelaide's slow fashion scene, but first it had to beat a legal challenge from a global trucking giant.
Fashion battlers Sim & Mack launch sustainable line
Andrew McKenna and his wife Simran set out to create a lifestyle clothing brand that was made in Australia, for all Australians. The name of the brand, Sim & Mack, was crucial to them to embody Australia’s diversity.
But they almost couldn’t have it.
The Adelaide-based small business was involved in a trademark dispute with the Volvo Truck Corporation of Sweden over the use of the word ‘Mack’, delaying their launch by 12 months.
“It was a big shock in the beginning and we weren’t sure if we would be able to negotiate with a company like that,” Andrew says.
“I was lucky to be able to find a trademark attorney who had handled a similar case…we took the approach of dealing with them in good faith and that was reciprocated.”
The ‘Mack’ that was in the hot seat of the trademark dispute derives from Andrew’s surname, and reflects his Irish Australian heritage. ‘Sim’ is the nickname of Simran, who is of Punjabi Singaporean descent.
Andrew says in the end it was a good outcome as the name was very important to them.
“No matter whether you were an original Australian, an Indigenous Australian, right through to someone who arrived on the last plane, this brand is about reflecting the greatest aspect of our country, which is that we are such a successful multicultural nation.”
The idea for Sim & Mack came after Andrew travelled to North America in the early 2000s and was inspired by iconic lifestyle brands such as Roots Canada and Ralph Lauren.
“Australia, whilst we had our iconic brands that were an ode to outback, country, heritage, or surfing culture, we didn’t quite have something that was universal in its appeal,” he says.
The idea quietly simmered away in the back of Andrew’s mind for a couple of decades as he went on in a career of small business advocacy, agri-business and commercial property.
To begin his foray into fashion Andrew met with local designers to confirm the idea had legs. One of his supporters, former RM Williams designer and boutique owner, Ella Guerin did some consulting to get the designs off the page.
The brand prides itself on being 100 per cent Australian made, with most of the manufacturing happening here in Adelaide, and some in Melbourne.
“I was never going to launch anything until I had the best range of products that could be made here in Australia,” Andrew says.
“I grew up in a textile town in Victoria that employed over 2000 people until the late 80s, when the tariff barriers started to come down, so I had that awareness of the importance of making things locally.”
According to the Australian Fashion Council 2022 report, less than five per cent of Australian garments are fully manufactured here.
“We do recognise that means the clothes are a little bit more expensive, but you are paying for the fact that the workers are paid an Australian wages and are subject to some of the strongest labour market conditions,” Andrew says. “That’s the difference with making in Australia versus what you might be able to do with cheaper imports.”
New here? Sign up to receive the latest happenings from around our city, sent every Thursday afternoon.
The brand wants the garments to be seen as an investment, not just a purchase. For them, being Australian made from high-quality, sustainable materials is crucial to customers getting their money’s worth.
Their current line includes t-shirts, hoodies and rugby jumpers. Their t-shirts are made with 100 per cent Good Earth cotton from Sundown Pastoral in New South Wales. The supplier is known for being a carbon positive cotton operation, meaning it sequesters more carbon than the cotton emits.
As the weather heats up, Sim & Mack are working on a summer edit which will be available in coming months. Due to their sustainable values they won’t release stock as frequently as major fashion labels.
To purchase Sim & Mack products, head to their website.
Connect with the business on Instagram for more.