Photo: Katherine Lowe
Jae Mills and I have been friends for a long time, born of a shared love for streetwear initially, and higher end fashion more recently. But in the past few years, our tastes have changed dramatically; mine towards conservative tailoring, sweaters, suits and uniform dressing; his towards avant-garde, conceptual menswear, drapery and the colour black. Commoners Alike is Mills’ one year old label, specialising in conceptual, draped, and avant-garde price-pointed basics. Despite our often conflicting aesthetics, I’m a giant fan of his work, and so, it would seem, is the buying public. In Commoners Alike’s first year of business, it had a near 100% sell-through at retail, staggering for any brand let alone a start-up.
Mills says he is wholly committed to growing slowly, building strong foundations in New Zealand before attempting mass global domination, but for the first time, he has brought Commoners Alike to Australia to begin showing potential stockists. “Australia’s really really competitive so I have to grow in New Zealand before I really attempt it here,” he says. “As a buyer from Black Box I know how it works. It takes time, people aren’t just going to take a punt on you. You have to prove that you’re a brand that they want to buy into, that you’re going to stick around and that you’ve got an interesting point of view. I think Commoners Alike has that – on-trend shapes that are good quality for the price.”
As you can see below, he’s sold me.