CHRISTOPHER SCHAERF IN SYDNEY
In collaboration with the Strand Arcade in celebrating Australian menswear with Music, Martinis and Muses, I’m excited to be hosting our third MITT Studio Talks this Thursday night at 6:30pm. I’ll be joined by some of the Strand Arcade’s brightest menswear designers and shopkeepers to talk about what the Australian man is looking for when it comes to fashion.
Ahead of Thursday’s event, I was lucky enough to meet with one half of the Strand Arcade’s newest residents, Christopher Schaerf of men’s footwear boutique, Double Monk.
WHEN DID YOU AND YOUR BROTHER NICK START DOUBLE MONK?
We opened our first store in Melbourne in December 2012, but it involved planning for well over a year. We made a few trips overseas and personally met with all the brands we wanted to stock. It was a bit difficult to get them all on board at first, most of the brands were operating at full capacity and weren’t looking for new customers, so we really had to sell ourselves. We ended up getting all of them in the end.
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION IN OPENING YOUR OWN MEN’S FOOTWEAR BOUTIQUE COME FROM?
I think it came from our trips, experiencing retail in places like North America and Asia, we became fond of these brands we were discovering that just weren’t available locally. So we set out to create a new destination back home in Melbourne that didn’t really exist yet.
YOU RECENTLY OPENED YOUR SECOND SHOP IN SYDNEY’S STRAND ARCADE, WAS EXPANSION ALWAYS THE PLAN?
We always wanted to expand to Sydney. We thought that Melbourne and Sydney were the two markets that would make a good foundation for Double Monk. In the first few years, we already had a solid customer base that would fly in from Sydney, so it was a good indication that there were potential customers and fans of the products we were representing. Being in the Strand Arcade was also a perfect fit for us, being off the ground level, it made it more of a destination like our shop in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful heritage building and we’re amongst other incredible brands like P. Johnson Tailors and Mister Mister, which all compliment each other.
WHERE DID YOUR INTEREST IN FASHION AND FOOTWEAR COME FROM?
Growing up, I was always in jeans and a t-shirt, even studying law in University, I lived in Birkenstocks and denim. But I think it began to evolve when I started doing internships and clerkships, having to wear a shirt and tie, I had to invest in my first suit and a good pair of shoes. I still remember having to save up all my pennies and I got my first made-to-measure shirt made by a tailor in Melbourne. Same happened with footwear, got started with wearing some bad made in China shoes that were really uncomfortable, so I looked to invest in something better. You find these brands that have been making shoes for over 100 years and you really notice the difference. If anything, it’s all about the comfort.
ANY OF THOSE ITEMS STILL LIVING IN YOUR CLOSET?
I have a pair of John Lobb shoes that I bought over 10 years ago and still wear them regularly. My shoe collection has definitely expanded over the last few years but you always have your favourites you go back to.
LASTLY, IS THERE A PIECE OFF ADVICE YOU’VE BE GIVEN IN LIFE THAT HAS STUCK WITH YOU?
In terms of menswear, it’s about dressing for yourself. Being comfortable and confident is one of the most important things.
Come hear more voices from the Strand Arcade (412-414 George St, Sydney) this Thursday at our third MITT Studio Talks, starting around 6pm.