Matt Cuddihy and a couple of locals at the annual Deus Nine Foot & Single a couple of years ago . . . so where to now? Pic: Giang Alam Wardani
Dare Jennings, co-founder of Deus Ex Machina – and now some of the best operators in fashion are throwing euros at the label. Pic: Louie Douvis
13 November 17
They say lightning doesn't strike twice. But 15 years after he sold hip surfwear label Mambo, Dare Jennings has done it again with surf motochic Deus ex Machina.
From the Financial Review, by Brook Turner:
It's easy to glide straight past Deus Ex Machina's global headquarters, situated on a particularly unlovely corner of a particularly unlovely road in Sydney's inner west. The dark grey, glass and brick façade, opposite a service station, merges into the river of bitumen that is Parramatta Road. Inside the 16,000-square-metre former factory, little seems to have changed in the 12 years since Mambo-founder Dare Jennings first flung the roller up on his next big adventure – part surf shop, part mechanics, part clothes store.
In among the bikes, boards and cycles, tables groan with denim, belts, helmets, T-shirts, sweat-shirts and useful-looking jackets. A glass case contains no-fuss wallets (Deus Leather Essentials), Lawson watches and the Raen Arkin sunnies equally beloved of surf stores and American luxury retailer Nordstrom. The shop still gives onto the workshop at the back, so that punters can follow the fumes, segue from buying a shirt to, say, customising a motorcycle. The same grand graffiti, In Benzin Veritas, still looms over the café like the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. It's still the same ode to postmodern blokedom that Jennings' old mate, H.G. Nelson, back in 2006, christened a "temple of boyish enthusiasm".
Jennings' bold experiment in the future of retail was based on a prescient hunch that – even as the era of the tamed and topiary-ed metrosexual peaked, long before the first hipster forgot to shave – boys just wanted to have fun. Just wanted to be boys again, part of the gang mucking around with bikes, motorbikes, surf boards and snowboards. In the years since, the world has caught up.
When The Australian Financial Review Magazine first darkened Deus' door a few weeks before it opened in 2005, it had the whiff of possibility. A decade on, the place has settled into itself, intensified, like wine in a barrel. Revenues have grown to the equivalent of a medium-sized surf brand, turning over $30 million a year. Deus has pushed into new territories – flagship stores in Byron Bay, Bali, Los Angeles, Milan, Tokyo – licensing and partnering when capital was needed, but as often relying on Jennings' tab.