Garth Mariano of Lo-Fi
AIC: We first linked up with you guys through our sister company Flatspot and your skate orientated label Butter Goods in 2017. Did you find it was a natural progression into starting Lo-Fi and opening the store, how did this come about?
Garth: The whole process happened really organically. The owner of the building where our office is located came knocking on our door one day saying he had a space in the basement that he was looking to lease. At the time, we didn't think much of it, then the idea of opening a store in this space popped in our head, and it all started to snowball from there. We had a lot of product in the office, and figured why not have a space where we could sell it from. From the get go we wanted it to be something new. Affiliated with what we were already doing with Butter, but not a flagship store. We definitely wanted something that allowed us to support brands we liked, and also it allowed a wider platform of creativity between them.
"We're located off the beaten path in an old heritage building, the building was actually the first bank in Perth. Our stockroom is the original vault, which is pretty cool."
AIC: It’s always interesting to hear how some things come about organically, we’re really into what you’ve done with the space. For those who have never visited, how would you describe your retail spot in the centre of Perth?
Garth: We're located off the beaten path in an old heritage building, the building was actually the first bank in Perth. Our stockroom is the original vault, which is pretty cool. We're on a small street in the central business district away from the retail precinct. Originally we just had our office there. It's definitely more of a destination store, but it's a nice spot. Closer to where we'd all skate on the weekends and away from the malls.
AIC: Has your attitude changed towards independent companies since you’ve launched two of your own, or have you always been into smaller scale projects? What’s the reaction been like within the nearby scene?
Garth: We've definitely always been into independent brands. We love to support other independent brands and projects. Lo-Fi has been a great way to connect with lots of other people doing similar things to us around the world. A brands size though is secondary to what it represents. We also carry brands like Patagonia in store because of their rich heritage and the ideals they stand for.
AIC: It’s great that independent businesses have the freedom to bring people together like that, we’re certainly pleased to be supporting you guys in a similar sense. Speaking of which - you’ve got a killer selection of multi brands that a lot of people might not have heard of before - Gimme 5, Performance, Book Works - what goes through your mind when selecting new products? How do you find all of these independent brands that are doing such cool things?
Garth: It's difficult, there's more brands than ever now, and we can only carry so many. I don't think we have any formula when it comes to selecting brands. I think when a brand is interesting and authentic, it really cuts through the noise. So we just focus on brands that are exciting to us.
“We recently did a collaborative tee and gelato sandwich with local gelateria, Chicho. It's all about connecting community, whether it be on a local or international level.”
AIC: Along the same lines, you’ve worked with a few independent local food joints on some collaborative graphics - how have these come about?
Garth: We use Lo-Fi to work on projects with other like minded people from all industries. We do the Lo-Fi Radio series where we work with artists or brands to share music through people we think have great taste, and similarly we like to work with other local businesses who are doing something cool. We recently did a collaborative tee and gelato sandwich with local gelateria, Chicho. It's all about connecting community, whether it be on a local or international level.
AIC: Absolutely. Thanks so much for the photographs of your space, there’s a great selection of material. We’ve got a range of styles from your #005 'Poetic Justice’ collection that we’re really into - can you tell us a bit more about who, what and where influences your research...
Garth: Anywhere and everywhere! It's a lot of fun designing for Lo-Fi, and we get to work with some great artists. A lot of the graphic references are found in the real world. I'm a bit of a hoarder and spend weekends at swap meets and thrift stores. There's a plethora of inspiration to be found out there!
AIC: You include guest artists work within your collections - how did you meet Big Tony and Liver Ideas? Tell us a bit about that.
Big Tony is a local artist! Perth is small, so everyone knows everyone. Liver Ideas we got to know through the wonderful world on the internet. The internet and social media has made the world even smaller, we get to work with lots of great artists, and love to use Lo-Fi as a platform to share their work with our customer base. We also work with Bill Conors (@billconnors) a bunch. He has had a graphic in each range.
AIC: That’s great, definitely builds on the community aspect too! It’s apparent music plays a big part in both of your brands. The Lo-Fi radio is something special, we like that there’s a really good mix of genres going on - what’s your local music scene like? Do you have lesser known suggestions for us?
The local music scene is great. Music is a constant source of inspiration. So we try to involve it someway or another in what we do as often as we can. We have a Lo-Fi Radio coming out with Kuzich, who is originally from Perth, now residing in Melbourne, and actually used to work for the shop! Check his release on 823 (another local label) https://jakartarecords-label.bandcamp.com/album/dawn-chorus.
To delve deeper into Lo-Fi, follow the link to our Spotify playlist of tracks taken from a selection of vinyl recommendations sent over to us including Ivan Ave, Connan Mockasin and Pharoah Sanders. Lo-Fi is available across Always in Colour online and in our Exeter store, with more styles coming soon.
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