Fashion from Australian Designer Ben Pollitt
View recent recent Friedrich Gray collections of Australian Fashion Review Blog.
Self-taught designer, Ben Pollitt launched his menswear and womenswear label, Friedrich Gray in 2006, following his studies in industrial design and stints as a stylist in New York, a delivery driver and as a building site manager. Quickly establishing himself as one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming designers, known for his androgynous aesthetic, layered silhouettes and signature muted colour palette.
Just a year after the label’s inception, Ben was showing his collection at Australian Fashion Week which helped bag him the Fashion Category at the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards. This prestigious accolade saw him receive $10,000 in prize money and a mentor program with iconic Sydney designer Peter Morrissey. Talking of his big win to The Daily Telegraph Ben said: “I’ve always know I can design and be creative, I just need to know more about the nuts and bolts of running a business and getting financing.”
It seemed at first that the mentoring was at first successful, with Ben picking up Woolmark’s Young designer of the Year Award at the 2008 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. The label expanded across Australia, New Zealand, even setting foot in Japan, as well as receiving press coverage in the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Unfortunately, the hype and the accolades didn’t translate into sufficient sales or financial investment and in 2011 Ben announced that Friedrich Gray would be taking a break die to financial and logistical pressures.
“After six years of having the label, it didn’t seem that the positives were outweighing the negatives…I didn’t have an investor, it was just me managing it on my own, so when I had some bigger accounts happening in Asia I couldn’t financially support that.,” Ben said. “And at the high end I was working in Australia, there are just enough stores to support it and it becomes political in terms of stocking different stores. Then with overseas I had the challenge of making two different collections for the northern hemisphere there and the southern hemisphere here, so for a one-man show it became a lot to manage.”
The last collection for the brand was for the Spring/Summer 2010-2011 season, with Ben moving on to spend a year working as a freelance design consultant before becoming the Head of Design at Nicolas The Label in January 2012.
Friedrich Gray: A Timeline Snapshot
- 2006: Self-taught designer Ben Pollitt launches his menswear and womenswear fashion label, Friedrich Gray.
- 2007: Just a year after the label’s foundation, Friedrich Gray shows for the first time at Australian Fashion Week. It was also a year of recognition for the brand taking home the Fashion Category at the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards.
- 2008: The accolades continue, with the brand receiving Woolmark’s Young Designer of the Year Award at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.
- 2010: The Friedrich Gray fashion label opens its first pop-up store in Sydney, on Sunning Avenue in Rosebery, located just next door to Ben’s actual design studio. The pop-up stocked the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection, as well as samples, archive pieces and custom made leather jackets.
The Friedrich Gray Aesthetic
A dark, neo-gothic urban creature, Friedrich Gray is the embodiment of Pollitt’s own sense of style: “If I don’t think that I can wear it, I don’t make it.,” Ben says. Friedrich Gray garments are often visually striking in a dark metaphorical sense. Ben’s advanced approach to fabrication, fusing together the manmade and natural and his immaculate tailoring and signature draping and paneling techniques ensure recognisable quality in his experimental garments. The brand has a timeless approach to fashion, creating pieces that don’t expire from season to season, instead lasting a lifetime.