Interview: We Are Handsome
Sydney's cult swimwear label dives into a new range of photo-based offerings
Back in 2009, buddies Indhra Chagoury and Jeremy Somers had a great idea for what was potentially just a side project. What began with five sample products is now Australia’s We Are Handsome, a fully-formed label that’s exploded at an international scale—their goodies are available in more than 40 cities around the world. WAH swimwear initially made waves among fashion editors and style authorities with their ‘80s-vibed full-piece swimsuits featuring bold and gaudy-in-a-good-way images of lions, panthers, flamingoes, and retro-future California scenes. After broadening their swimwear offering, WAH are now also making apparel, including beachwear, leggings and super-hot mini-dresses, and have reached a new cult status. We recently checked in with the enterprising duo to learn more about their latest collection, The Crossing, and what’s next for the rising stars.
What’s playing in the workplace right now?
We’ve got a spotify playlist called "Awesome Songs That Humans Like"—a huge mash-up of all sorts. But we’re eagerly awaiting new albums from Phoenix, Vampire Weekend and, of course, Daft Punk.
Was there a specific objective you wanted achieve with WAH, or did it simply evolve organically into a certain aesthetic because of your combined tastes?
Like everything, our aesthetic evolved as the brand did, as the market did and as we did. From the start we aimed at producing collections that were aspirational and unique—something we strive to achieve every season.
Is there anything you guys are trying hard to steer clear of with the brand?
We try to steer clear of being seen as just another swimwear brand. Our work is completely Australian designed and made, and we’re proud that We Are Handsome is one of the highest quality swimwear brands that exists.
As a team, how does the design process occur? Do you work together on one garment? Do you tweak one another’s work?
Everything is done in-house. Without our different views and approaches to design we can come up against some hard decisions, but more often we each have strengths in diverse categories. As a duo, we conceive, get inspired, compile visual mood boards and design from a clear direction that’s been agreed upon.
The brand is clearly image-focused. How do you source your shots?
All our images are either shot or illustrated by me (Jeremy), or bought from stock libraries and put together. Some of our prints combine more than a dozen images to get to the end result. We’re very cautious about copyright and would never infringe another image.
How do you know when an image is going to work on a garment – there must be more to it than just finding/making an aesthetically pleasing picture, right?
The answer to this is our Coca Cola formula—kept under lock and key.
Is there anyone who has had a strong impact on the brand?
The photographic stylings of Slim Aarons, Ansell Adams and Guy Bourdin have all played a huge part in our artistic and photographic journey. We’re inspired by travel and the world around us—it has so many surprises and ridiculously amazing things to see and take in.
What began as a purely swimwear label has really bloomed and now you’re making all kinds of garb. Did you always plan to expand like that?
It’s been half organic and half experimentation in what we have evolved into. We’re really becoming much more of a lifestyle brand, and we couldn’t be happier. For fashion week just gone we’ve designed and applied our WAH signature to bicycles, lollipops, beach towels, furniture and more. We love to customize everything!
The next collection, The Discovery, is on its way. What is the philosophy behind it?
The Discovery is about firsts, the first time you fell in love, rode a rollercoaster, moved to a new city. Finding something new, something you love for the first time is a feeling second to none.
Do Australians make the best swimwear? Is it just fact?
Yes. Yes. Enough said.
Images courtesy of We Are Handsome