Written by Tess McCabe. Photography by Kristin Wursthorn. See the collection here.
Left-Right: Kylie Zerbst (Obus founder/creative director) and Kerryn Moscicki (Radical Yes founder/creative director)
Tell us about the idea behind this collaboration, and why does it make sense for Radical Yes and Obus to collaborate on this footwear range?
Kylie: Radical Yes had been on our radar for a while as a company committed to the ethics and environmental standards we value in our own business. We also really love their design sensibility and the way that their products transcend current trends. While we have always manufactured the majority of our clothing in Melbourne, it’s increasingly difficult to produce footwear here. We admire Radical Yes' dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do.
Kerryn: We were so floored when Obus came to us to talk about a footwear collaboration because we have always admired their work. For me personally, I have looked to them as an inspiring example of an iconic, independent Melbourne brand who have been doing their own thing and doing it well for a really long time. We believe our customers have a shared set of values and a similar aesthetic so the idea of using Obus palettes on our silhouettes was a no-brainer.
Kylie: Yes it’s been a dream collab - it doesn’t feel like work when they’ve made the whole process so easy!
Running your own businesses, can you take us through your approach to workwear? What’s essential to you?
Kerryn: Flat shoes! I walk to work and on the way drop my kids at kinder and school, so my workwear garments are very focused on functionality and pragmatism. My outfits tend to be very simple in palette mix - lots of navy, charcoal and camel tones - to help disguise the inevitable kid stains. But then some days I also love to be super comfortable in a vintage oversized knit and denims. The common theme is always a flat shoe.
Kylie: I love colour and pattern. Similar to Kerryn, the Obus studio is local to my neighbourhood and I’m often arriving to work after walking my son to school. For me, I dress to express my personality but also feel comfortable all day. I love accessorising a casual linen or wool pant with a chunky knit, tailored shirt and statement earrings. The clothing we make at Obus has women who want professional and versatile clothing as its primary focus - it’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!
What do you think is the edge that small businesses in the fashion landscape have over the big players?
Kerryn: Being truly connected to the customer, having more empathy with their needs and lifestyles rather than pushing product for the sake of meeting 'stakeholder demands'. I believe you can tell when product has lost its purpose and is just filling an 'assortment matrix' to meet stock turn targets. Maybe it’s idealistic, but I believe this is why customers are seeking out and responding to smaller makers who are producing from a place of passion before profits.
Kylie: We’ve always been a small and agile team at Obus, and I think this has helped us weather a few storms over the past 20 years. We can be responsive to trends, to manufacturing snafus, and in communication with our customers. Like Kerryn says, we can also get to know our customers really well - our stores are a mainstay of Melbourne’s inner north, and getting to know our local customers over the years is a bigger part of our overall design process than they probably realise!
Both Obus and Radical Yes create quality products that are designed to transcend seasons and last the test of time. What’s a favourite item in your wardrobe that is still going strong?
Kylie: This Winter I’ve loved my Obus Cocoon coat from a few years ago. It’s a bold lilac purple, collarless cocoon coat and always gets lots of comments!
Kerryn: I have a few key items from our collections over the years. My 'Saturn Returns' trainers in wool lined shearling are a definite go-to in Winter. My 'Little & Often' Day Heels are also an easy slip on that I return to almost daily. They look ace with opaque tights and denims. Can’t wait to wear the new lilac ones Kylie dreamed up for us!