It’s a well known fact that fashion trends and styles drift in and out of favour every few years. A year ago you may have scoffed at a pair of jeans that your Mum wore in the 80s but today you might creep into her room when she’s absorbed in her weekly hit of The Bill and steal them to be worn when she’s not looking. So it isn’t too suprising that embroidered goods that our Grannies would have treasured when we were just a glint in our parents’ eyes, have resurfaced via the creative minds (and hands) of Perth duo Gurf. Created by Hayley and Kealey, Gurf reinforces an idea that sits high on the Dropstitch agenda- that Perth is full of creative young (and old) people who are setting trends in the fashion world…

What’s the significance of the name Gurf?

Kealey:  Gurf is something to utter in times of bad luck and misfortune.  It’s kind of one of those words that don’t exactly have a specific meaning as such, but that convey a certain mood or feeling. In everyday language the equivalent of “Gurf” would be something along the lines of “Crapdammit!  What else can go wrong now? Things are not going my way”, or something to that effect. 

We created Gurf during a time when things seemed to be filled with misfortune and we needed to keep ourselves busy and make fun looking things to cheer ourselves up.  We didn’t actually intend to start a label, it just fell into place after I reached for my sewing machine and made some monster shaped stuffed toys for Hayley and she made some earrings for me in return.  We started sharing our design ideas whilst eating too many meals together and laughing and exclaiming “Gurfffff” and “Oh man, you got gurfed!” everytime something bad happened (car crashes, unemployment, injuries, break ups and break downs and other assorted junk). We managed to laugh off our misfortunes and put our energy into designing instead of complaining.  We’ve got luck on our side now… mostly.

What inspired you to bring back the cross stitch and embroidery?

Kealey: Most of our pieces are inspired by old things that we find in our houses.  I was sorting through my box of cottons and other junk for sewing and came across an old cross stitch frame… I remembered the steam train cross stitch piece that my mum had made for my brother circa 1990 and thought it would look interesting as a necklace pendant.  After that, I just started experimenting with different designs and materials to see if I could find a way to make the idea work.  It was a fairly similar process with the comic decoupage hearts, when Hayley stumbled upon some old comics from her childhood and decided to use them to adapt an idea we had already been working on with other materials.  We try to take fairly old fashioned mediums and put a bit of a spin on them.

What’s it like being Perth based designers? Do you find it a pro or a con?

Kealey: Perth is our home and I guess that makes it a comfortable place for us to work on our designs and ideas.  Being in our home town probably makes us feel a lot more confident to put our label out to the public too, knowing that a lot of the people who see our stuff first will be our family and friends.

Hayley: I like the support you feel as a Perth designer because your brother’s friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s dad fixes your car you can’t help but feel a sense of community. The only con being the limited resources, is it really that hard to find a place that prints photos on to 1mm white plastic? Let me know.

Which are your favourite materials to work with?

Kealey: Glue!  And clamps, pins, trays, and racks that help me do more than one thing at a time.

Hayley: Mostly existing objects that can be re-worked to create a new meaning. Kids’ party toys at King Kong, dolls’ shoes from op shops etc. Anything rad with a bright colour cool texture, picture or form. We then incorporate the objects into a piece of jewellery. I like to use cheap everyday materials of seemingly little value to represent something of greater value.

Who are your favourite local designers?

Kealey: I don’t get a lot of time to go shopping these days (I have been stuck in the land of film production for a few months), so I mostly get to see what my friends and other people I know are designing.  I like the new stuff that Katou has done this season.

Hayley: I try to put as much of my small earnings towards local designers, artists, musicians, film makers (where possible) to help support the arts scene as I’d like to think all Perth designers would. Des!gnthreat is a humble, super talented local graphic designer.

I also think that there are loads of creative people in Perth who haven’t got the confidence to put their amazing ideas out there, or get off myspace and go to spotlight.

What does the future hold for Gurf?

Kealey: We’re working on a lot of new stuff at the moment; it’s getting to the point where we have too many ideas and not enough time to make them all! Very soon you will see lots more jewellery, some brooches and necklaces.  We’ve got a range of clothes coming out too. You’ll be able to see it all within the next month; we’re shooting a lookbook/catalogue in the next few weeks that will show our new range.  We’re both almost finished studying at Curtin Uni, so we will have a lot more time to spend on Gurf when our assignments are complete!

Hayley: More flair to fit around your body. Interactive fashion that will make you salivate, literally speaking.

Finish this sentence: Perth fashion is…?

Kealey: Perth fashion is unique… because the city is isolated from most other cities, Perth kids invent their own style instead of following trends that are happening in other places.

Hayley: Perth fashion is effortless. You’re never too overdressed or underdressed; whatever you feel like; nothing is taken too seriously.

Dropstitch readers can get their hands on Gurf’s wares at Lala Orange in Northbridge or at Lala’s online store:

Check out their Myspace here: