Motorcycling, surfing, skateboarding, music, film, art, fashion… Deus Ex Machina (meaning: God from the machine) originally started as a way to explore the culture of creativity and has morphed into a worldwide brand, enjoying a unique position of being accepted by many lifestyles.
It’s the opposite strategy of so many fashion brands who build a business selling stuff and then try to invent a lifestyle that fits. Deus, launched in 2006, was and still is, about the culture. “Dare Jennings set down the marker when he started Deus along with graphics designer Carby Tuckwell,” says Rob Fairweather, who manages the Deus Ex Machina
distribution in the UK. “He moved to Japan after selling Mambo and was inspired with the scene there.”
He and Tuckwell started Deus by combining a love of old skool motorcycles and surfing. Rob says: “Deus was Dare’s brainchild but there’s Carby’s handwriting all over it.
Carby comes from an engineering background and designed aircraft. He did all the graphics and even came up with the renders for the early builds.
“Dare references the old but uses modern techniques. He believes if the company doesn’t keep moving then it will die – a bit like some species of shark. He married surf to bikes. People said it could never become a contemporary clothing brand so he set out to prove them wrong.”
Deus has flagship stores in Sydney, New South Wales, Bali, California, Japan and Milan. There are new stores to come in Dubai and London but right now in the UK you’ll find Deus in selected bike and surf shops as well as some fashion stores.
Distribution is down to Rob: “When I went to Bali on my honeymoon I stumbled across Deus. I’d grown up in Norfolk, riding scramblers in fields and I loved fashion. Out of the blue I was asked if I’d like to become an agent for Deus.”
Deus has led the way in the new wave of custom bike culture thanks to three head motorcycle builders; Jeremy in Sydney, Woolie in Venice Beach and Mat in Japan. But Deus also does bicycles, surfboards, cafes, has its own recording label in Brooklyn, continues to foster incredibly aspirational events and road trips and produces sensational videos of them. And it
offers a huge range of accessories, posters and books.
Rob says: “Deus made this amazing culture, then did the clothing, which is the opposite to most brands who have no real cultural reference. The trick for Deus, as it grows, is to maintain the cultural aspect. We’ve got graphics and classic styles that open it up more for us. We have flagship stores that only sell certain lines specific to that store.
“And we have collaborations with people like artist Nico of Ornamental Conifer, Austin-born artists/designers Ryan Rhodes and Caleb Owen Everitt from Land, and photographer Woody Gooch. We’ll always challenge people’s perceptions and conceptions – and try to surprise with our products. The great thing about Deus is that it’s a brand that means different things to different people.”
This year is the first time that a new Deus collection has been unveiled first in the northern hemisphere rather than in Australia. Why? Because the company has realised there are a lot
more fashion conscious people north of the equator. The clothes you see here are a sneak preview of that new 2017 collection.
“Most of our push is with what we call ‘Barmy Army’,” says Rob. “It references the military and 1980’s tropical – and within the range are motorcycle references but with that
fashion element. There are plenty of T-shirts in the range too on sun-bleached fabrics with military detailing.
“There’s also ‘Indigo’. We’ve always done one or two items using real indigo dyes but this year there’s a full collection.
‘Contemporary’ is a monochrome style with tone-on-tone branding. It’s very subtle and some Woody Gooch art prints are included on the range of Monochrome T-shirts.
“We’ve also got ‘Graphics’, our logo-driven clothing and there’s a collectible range of Deus flagship store addresses on T-shirts and caps. Then we’ve got ‘Standards’, with workwear always in the range, plus ‘Classics’ with a lot of the Carby hand-dawn images and ‘Denim’.”