The Genteel
September 29, 2020


The Cloakroom. Source:
Pistols at Dawn S/S 2012-13.

Nineteenth century social commentator and Edinburgh Encyclopedia contributor, Thomas Carlyle, once asserted: "Neither in tailoring nor in legislating does man proceed by mere accident." Carlyle's words, originally musings on the debonair philosophy of clothes and the transcendental nature of human progress, might equally be applied to the creative minds behind Australian menswear label, Pistols at Dawn.

Founded in Brisbane in 2006, Pistols at Dawn is a menswear label that seeks to provide modern interpretations of key style pieces; such as finely tailored suits, linen jackets and contemporary shirting options. Its range is designed to enhance the sartorial foundations of modern Aussie males, whilst addressing the climate, lifestyle and seasonal peculiarities of the Australian environment. 

Its contemporary, holistic approach to the creation of a refined aesthetic has earned Pistols at Dawn a legion of loyal clients - particularly among the young, professional and style-minded. Of late, the brand has been able to leverage its cult following and local success, to enable them to transition into the highly competitive Sydney market. The label continues to defy the traditional style lethargy of Aussie men, as is demonstrated by the August release of its S/S 2012-13, range in association with GQ Australia

True to Carlyle's suggestions, Pistols at Dawn was not born by mere accident. Frustrated by his fruitless pursuit of well-tailored business shirts, Andrew Byrne established the brand. With a background in Law and Town Planning, as well as experience in the realms of media and fashion production, Byrne's goal was to provide the same quality, hand-crafted garments he had come to appreciate from his extensive overseas sojourns. He joined forces with fellow Brisbane fashion innovator and Industrial Design graduate, Josh McPherson, who brought a utilitarian sensibility to the brand's endeavours. 

We're touching that client who is looking for something unique and who doesn't like to be marketed at.

What started as a practical response to an under-attended market, quickly evolved into a veritable design crusade. The pair found themselves extolling the virtues of their hand-crafted, quality suits and shirts to retailers far and wide. Then, in 2007, buoyed by the success of their wares, Byrne and McPherson crafted their own retail space, The Cloakroom. Designed to embody the rarefied spirit of bygone gentleman's apparel saloons, The Cloakroom offers customers a chance to commission their own luxury, bespoke garments within a minimalist interior setting.

The brand's emphasis on personalised, quality fashion services, extends from the design of its studio, to the cut of its suits and permeates through the business model the duo adopted to differentiate themselves from their fast-fashion peers. As McPherson told Map Magazine, "We're touching that client who is looking for something unique and who doesn't like to be marketed at. Once they come in, they tell somebody else. Gaining clientele from word of mouth is rewarding, especially when people come in who have heard about The Cloakroom and are interested in fashion but haven't had an outlet for it."

The outlet offered by The Cloakroom does not fail to accommodate the most discerning of standards. In addition to the Pistols at Dawn range and bespoke tailoring services, The Cloakroom also houses a selection of quality international accessories, shoes and fragrances. From Bresciani socks, imported from the Italian town of Spirano, to the elixirs of venerable, family-owned English perfumery Creed, The Cloakroom is aptly furnished to fashion the contemporary Cary Grants of Brisbane.

Since the establishment of Pistols at Dawn and The Cloakroom, Byrne and McPherson have been witness to a changing fashion economy within the relatively staid style terrain of Brisbane. Unlike its southern and western Australian counterparts, the Queensland capital has been slow to cultivate a unique style identity in the absence of a core, concerted creative fashion community. However, as the scene quickly develops, an appreciation for local artisans and fashion design talents in Brisbane is being championed by a slew of new retail precincts, emerging designer markets and the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival.

The Cloakroom.

In 2009, McPherson expanded the scope of Pistols at Dawn by establishing The Cloakroom in Sydney's Surry Hills. The decision to divide and conquer afforded the brand the opportunity to test its bespoke skills within the more established and competitive Sydney market - to great success. It also allowed for the introduction of Canadian, Louis Ialenti into the design fold.

As purveyors of quality fabrics, manufactured into finely detailed, hand-crafted wardrobe staples, Pistols at Dawn and the team at The Cloakroom have established an aesthetic unlike any other Brisbane fashion house. The vision, which draws on an understanding of timeless, traditional tailoring techniques and an appreciation for the more contemporary, seasonal attitudes of fashion, is explored in a range which shows casual sophistication, befitting the Brisbane genesis of the brand. If, as Shakespeare suggested, "The apparel oft proclaims the man," then Brisbane men would do well to salute Pistols at Dawn.



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