WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
The Australian approach to living is rooted in the desire to be one with nature. From the nation’s affinity for the practice of going barefoot to its fondness for outdoor sports, Aussies find ample opportunity each and every day to reconnect with the Earth. COMMAS is a Sydney-based label that translates this mindful way of being into sustainable fashion.
In just five years, the swim and resortwear label has gained a cult following by empowering people – particularly the style conscious – to revel in those crucial hit-pause moments in which we appreciate our existence. Patchwork-design robe jackets make the perfect companion for sunset yoga. Drawstring-hem polo shirts formed from linen and ramie (an east-Asian nettle fibre) are ideal for days spent soaking up the sun on pastoral retreats. Recycled polyester swim briefs ensure your morning dip in the ocean is tasteful and conscious. To wear such pieces during times of reflection is to endeavour to remind oneself of the beauty of the human experience.
To gain insight into the inspirations, processes and direction of COMMAS, we spoke to the Australian native behind the brand, Richard Jarman.
How would you describe COMMAS?
The brand is about choosing to be present in those moments when you pause to catch your breath before you start again. It’s a lifestyle.
How did COMMAS come about?
I come from a family of swimmers, so I have always been somewhat fascinated by swimwear. I started conceptualising COMMAS, playing around with swimwear, when I was completing my master’s degree. It started purely as my creative outlet.
How does COMMAS encapsulate your Australian roots?
COMMAS is a tangible representation of the lifestyle we are so fortunate to live here: everything revolves around the sun, water and being outside. It’s a place of endless inspiration.
What are your two key sources of inspiration?
My first prime source of inspiration is the ocean. I’m a morning person, and I start each day with a swim in the sea. My second major source of inspiration is music. Music always filled the rooms of my childhood home; now, my design studio is a place where music is always playing. We have a soundtrack for absolutely everything.
Can you talk us through how COMMAS is committed to sustainability?
We make timeless garments made to last by sourcing quality fabrics from some incredible mills situated across the world, from a third-generation family-owned linen mill in Prato, Italy, to a technical swimwear supplier who creates recycled polyamides just outside of Barcelona, Spain.
Are there any plans to make COMMAS a more sustainable brand in the future?
We make everything here in Sydney, Australia – this allows us to watch over each stage of the production process. Our office is carbon neutral, and we continue to introduce more and more sustainable fabrics each season. We have strong goals for sustainability: long term, we are working towards reaching carbon neutrality across all operations.
What are your go-to COMMAS pieces?
I love textured linens, which is why the artist's shirt is my go-to and has been for a while. In fact, I wear it so much that my wife jokes that it’s the only shirt I own, and people have begun to believe her.
What are the most popular COMMAS pieces?
Each season we adorn our silk shirts and swimwear pieces with artwork we have painted. These pieces get snapped up quickly as some of our most loyal customers collect them. After that, it’s the Italian linens that are the most popular. People love how breathable our linen shirts and trousers are.
Do you enjoy seeing shoppers style COMMAS pieces in new and unexpected ways?
Absolutely! On Instagram I see NBA players incorporating COMMAS into their street aesthetic, youngsters looking chic in COMMAS on boats and at beach bars and everything in between. Oh, and just the other day I saw a man in his 60s wearing a pair of COMMAS swim shorts to the pool.
What’s next for you and the brand?
Personally, we’re so excited to be travelling again this year. I can’t wait for a European summer! In terms of the brand, there are some super-exciting collaborations in the pipeline. We’re already counting down the days till launch.