Backstage at Justin Cassin Resort 2019 / Credit: Getty Images

Though his namesake label is relatively new, Justin Cassin is already cementing his position in the fashion industry. He isn’t your typical international designer boasting avant-garde silhouettes and over-the-top embellishments, rather, he looks to “blur the lines between traditional and contemporary fashion.”

Hailing from Los Angeles, the international designer sets his sight for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia each year to showcase his incoming Resort collection. Making his debut in 2017, Cassin’s regular appearance at the annual event has garnered growing interest from the local menswear community. Widening the landscape for male fashion particularly Down Under, each year is different from the last and when attending one of his shows, it is safe to expect the unexpected.

Credit: Getty Images

From a dark and brooding debut collection in 2017 to Mediterranean-infused looks during last year’s Fashion Week, the “journal” or “photo album” of his life can be seen through his ever-evolving label. With the aim to provide accessibility to premium pieces and blend streetwear aesthetics with formal attire, the Justin Cassin brand has become quintessential with not-so-basic basics.

In just under three days, the Resort 2020 collection will make its inauguration at Sydney’s Luna Park. In the lead up to Cassin’s biggest show to-date – think dancers, live-musicians and over 2,000 attendees – ICON caught up with the globe-trotting creative for insight into his early beginnings, incoming line and advice for the everyday man.

ICON: Where did you find your love for fashion?

Justin Cassin: “Ever since I could remember, I have always been interested in fashion. It has been repeated time and time again by so many people, but it really is true – fashion affords you with confidence like nothing else, it is your armour. When I was younger and before I ventured into designs, I would attempt style my close friends and family and within a matter of minutes I could see the difference in the way they carried themselves and spoke to others. It really is something quite powerful.”

“…fashion affords you with confidence like nothing else, it is your armour.”

ICON: You established your namesake label in LA. What drew you to present your collections in Australia?

JC: “I spent the majority of my childhood in Sydney before moving to the United States, so I have very fond memories and a very strong connection to this country. When I started my studies in fashion, I remember telling myself I want to go back to where it all started and come back full circle. By presenting the collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, it gives me a good excuse to visit every once in a while too and enjoy a nice holiday with all the fantastic beaches and cafes here.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Models pose on the runway during the Justin Cassin show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 19 Collections at Carriageworks on May 17, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)
ICON: How would you describe the label as a whole?

JC: “The label attempts to blur the lines between traditional and contemporary fashion. We really want to challenge the everyday man to fuse both street wear aesthetics with classic menswear looks, it’s really all about bridging that gap right in-between formal and casual for me. The goal of the label is to provide everyone with options that can take you from the working week to the weekends and everything in between.”

ICON: Your Resort 2018 collection was quite dark and brooding; comparatively last year’s runway had a European feel about it. What can we expect from Resort 2020?

JC: “Each collection acts as a journal and photo album as I regularly draw inspirations from my surroundings and travels. My debut Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week collection, the Resort 2018, reflects all of the accumulative hardships I experienced in launching my label to finally receiving the invitation to be part of fashion week. It was definitely a very gloom, sharp and deeply personal collection and I am very proud of it. When I designed the Resort 2019 collection, I was spending a lot of time in Europe and I was in a much better mindset without all the stress and worries so lighter fabrics were used and a lot more colours were incorporated.”

“Each collection acts as a journal and photo album as I regularly draw inspirations from my surroundings and travels.”

“For the upcoming Resort 2020 Collection, I was working predominately in Singapore and Hong Kong during that time period of creative brainstorm and sketching so the aesthetic for this upcoming collection will include a very city and metro visual with the signature relaxed sophistication minimalism of the brand. It’s definitely one of my best collections to date.”

Justin Cassin show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 18 Collection / Credit: Getty Images
ICON: Is this a natural progression of the brand’s aesthetic or something that was intentional?

JC: “It is a combination of natural progression and intentional evolvement. Everything you see within the brand is me and as I change and mature, so will the brand aesthetic. What I will say about this is that it is a natural pace of progression which is often out of my control, but I am always forcing myself to seek new inspirations and step out of my comfort zone with new techniques and designs in order to constantly remind myself not to fall into a comfortable positon and become a creature of habit. After all, fashion is all about changes.”

ICON: How does the Australian fashion landscape differ from that of overseas?

JC: “Australia is such a multicultural country and its fashion really reflects this as well. Whenever I visit, I identify influences from all around the world and it is such an interesting experience and you really don’t get this anywhere else.”

ICON: You had mentioned in the past that you “wanted to bring something new to the table for the Australian menswear industry”. How do you think the industry is evolving, particularly in Australia?

JC: “I have always wanted to bring designer garments to Australian men but at a more affordable price because it tends to be in the extremes over here; you can only go for standard affordable stores with repeated designs or custom and very expensive designer label and I would like to bridge that gap in-between. Australian consumers are becoming smarter with their purchases and with the trends of globalisation and technological advancements, there are more choices than ever before when it comes to menswear fashion and fashion as a whole. Australians are no longer limited to the styles that are offered to them in physical stores, but they have access to millions of choices online. Instead of thinking ‘I want to be the representative label of a certain style in a certain country’, a more healthy and advantageous mindset would just be aiming to become a label with its signature flair which is so unique you cannot get it from anywhere other than at this very label itself.”

ICON: What is one piece of advice you’d give to the man who is looking to overhaul his wardrobe and start fresh?

“…there are really no styling mistakes as I prefer people who are brave enough to express their own taste rather than follow standard fashion styling advice”

JC: “You often choose styles based on your life, work, body and many other things. I think men should think about how an item makes you feel on your body and if it is comfortable to wear it time after time. The clothing fit makes a huge difference as well, so I would always say that it is reasonable to spend some money at the tailors. Additionally, there are really no styling mistakes as I prefer people who are brave enough to express their own taste rather than follow standard fashion styling advice. Everyone is different; there is no one size fits all type of advice.”

GRAZIA and ICON will host Runway 1 during MBFWE featuring Justin Cassin Resort 2020. For your chance to sit front row, check out tickets here. The weekend held on May 17 and 18 will boast a curated schedule of workshops, seminars and runways ushering in budding fashion enthusiasts for a taste and insight into the industry. For tickets and more information, visit here.