“Noise, punk, hard and fast, but you can lay on it like a pillow.”
Melding the worlds of fashion, art and music, GarbageTV is the composite creative project dreamt up by Perth duo, Kiel Rogers and Rhys Scott. Originally launched as a series of Melbourne-based club nights, the GarbageTV brand was founded in 2015 after an increasing Demand for merch restocks sparked a fresh idea.
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Walking the line between high fashion and streetwear, GarbageTV’s designs are favoured by artists, skateboarders, musicians (see Billie Eilish for Vogue here) and the fashion crowd alike. Loved for their signature energetic, avant-garde-DIY aesthetic, Kiel and Rhys play with genderless silhouettes, experimental construction and punchy graphics. Coming off the back of a new AW22 collection, Reaching the HighKiel speaks on the GarbageTV journey so far.
Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?
My name is Kiel Rogers. I’ve been working in fashion for 13 years, I fell into it in the early 2000s. After my first year of fine art, I decided to change to fashion. It was a strange move at the time, but there was something drawing me towards it. During my second year [fashion school]I worked in the costume department at the West Australian Ballet; I also travelled to NY to work for Karen Walker.
After graduating and winning the Young Designer Award for my year, I moved to Antwerp to intern with Walter van Beirendonck. Working for Walter has to be one of the greatest highlights of my career.
After Walter, I moved to LA to work for Jeremy Scott. I’d always loved Jeremy Scott’s work, as it brings a lowbrow crossover of streetwear and high fashion. While working for Jeremy, I made a lot of runway pieces. Coming from Walter and the West Australian Ballet, costuming was my strong point. I also worked privately on custom costume items for Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Fever Ray, Jarred Letto and Glaser.
After LA, I moved to the UK where I worked for and managed Comme des Garçons Black Label. Expiring visas meant it was time to head back to Australia. I met with Perks and Mini and worked for PAM for four years in Melbourne. It was during this time I started an event called Garbage, and the label started from there.
How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.
The label started really organically. The event started at Hugs & Kisses [a now-defunct Melbourne club]. At the time, Melbourne was very disco and Italio, there weren’t many harder music-style events. Older heads 100 per cent did it before me, just at that time, there wasn’t really much around.
Someone once said to me they loved playing Garbage events because it was the only time they got to bring [in] music no one else would let them play. This idea kind of stuck with me and continues today. I started a small run of merch to sell at the events and it sold out pretty much straight away. After the first run, my friend Rhys approached me and offered to help financially so I could make more. From there, the label just grew.
The idea behind GarbageTV the label was to create a music-based, avant-garde project. Because my jobs have mainly been in pattern cutting and construction, I wanted to create unique shapes and concepts, while also offering a commercial aspect. I guess this is where the challenges have been. GarbageTV doesn’t really sit in a group – it’s always been too high fashion for streetwear and too streetwear for high fashion. Then it also has the event and music surrounding it.
Another challenge is that when GarbageTV started, there wasn’t really much like it. But [now]because of the internet, social media and the times, it feels like there are a lot of similar things popping up all the time now. The best idea is to not look and stay away from social media and the internet. Also – of course – COVID has been the biggest challenge.
What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?
The initial idea was to just have something of my own. After working for everyone I look up to and consider some of the best designers/artists in the world, I just wanted to make my own thing, with my own ideas and concepts. [I wanted to] push something new. I never thought it would grow to what it is now.
I guess overall, I’d like to communicate that [the label] is what it is. Like it or leave it. I really only want to push positivity through the label and push music harder than ever, work with youth and help everyone around me to grow and be heard.
How would you describe GarbageTV to someone who’s never seen it before?
It’s the sound. Noise, punk, hard and fast, but you can lay on it like a pillow.
Where did the name come from?
Growing up, I was very much a punk/hardcore kid. And I was super passionate about what I love and believe in. The event started because I felt there was a lot of garbage around and I wanted to push something new so I called it ‘Garbage’! Then [when I was looking for] label names, I couldn’t trademark ‘garbage’. [The only domain name] available for the website was .tv, so it became GarbageTV.
What are you most proud of in your work on your label?
I think growing up in a single-parent family with no money, working multiple jobs and hustling to just start a label… it’s always been something I look back at and think, ‘How?’. The other would be Vogue. My whole career, all I wanted was to be in Vogue and GarbageTV has accomplished that.
We’ve also been asked season after season to send items over, and Vogue Italia has emailed asking for items. This is definitely something I’m so proud of as an artist/designer. Also, seeing people at Garbage events wearing [the label]… I’m still super overwhelmed every time. It means so much to me.
What do you wish you knew when you started?
How hard it actually is and how to ignore trolls on the internet. Some people have way too much time on their hands.
Who do you think is most exciting in local fashion right now?
I think seeing people dressing and buying off-trend, not following [what’s trendy on] the internet – that excites me. I also love seeing people push performances and costumes really hard.
Dream local collaborators?
I’d still love the opportunity to work for a large fashion house again. If I could pick one it would definitely be Margiela.
Go-to dinner party playlist?
Anything ’80s and post-punk or new wave… always a vibe.
Who is in your wardrobe right now?
Bernhard Willhelm, Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Walter van Beirendonck and loads of tees… when I see one I like, I generally buy it.
How can we buy one of your pieces?
Online (new website coming soon!) or from one of our stockists.
Anything else to add?
After COVID, we have all struggled in our own way. One way or another, you never know what someone is going through or how they handle things. Just because they look like they have it all on the internet doesn’t mean they do. We are all equal. Be kind to each other, work together, dance together and don’t take this life for granted. Don’t stop the dance.
Browse the GarbageTV collection here.