“Noisy, punk, hard and fast, but you can lay on it like a pillow.”
Bringing together the worlds of fashion, art and music, GarbageTV is the creative composite project dreamed 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 a growing demand for merch stocks sparked a new idea.
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Walking the line between high fashion and streetwear, GarbageTV’s designs are favored by artists, skateboarders, musicians (see Billie Eilish for Vogue here) and the fashion crowd alike. Loved for their distinct energetic, avant-garde-DIY aesthetic, Kiel and Rhys play with genderless silhouettes, experimental construction and strong graphics. Coming off the back of a new AW22 collection, High AchievementKiel talks about the GarbageTV journey so far.
Tell us about you. What is your fashion background?
My name is Kiel Rogers. I have been working in fashion for 13 years, I got into it in the early 2000s. After my first year of fine art, I decided to switch to fashion. It was a strange move at the time, but something drew me to it. During my sophomore year [fashion school], I worked in the costume department at the Western Australian Ballet; I also traveled to NY to work for Karen Walker.
After graduating and winning the Young Designer Award for my year, I moved to Antwerp to intern at Walter van Beirendonck. Working for Walter has to be one of the highlights of my career.
After Walter, I moved to LA to work for Jeremy Scott. I’ve always loved Jeremy Scott’s work, as it brings a low-key intersection of streetwear and high fashion. While working for Jeremy, I did a lot of track parts. Coming from Walter and the Western Australian Ballet, costumes were my forte. I have 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 and ran Comme des Garçons Black Label. Expired visas meant it was time to return to Australia. I met Perks and Mini and worked for PAM for four years in Melbourne. It was during this time that I started an event called Garbage, and the label started from there.
How did tagging begin? Tell us about the process and 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 Italy, there weren’t many harder music style events. The older heads 100 percent did it before me, just back then, there wasn’t much around.
Someone once told me that they liked to play trash events because it was the only time they could bring [in] music no one else would let them play. This idea stuck with me and continues to this day. I started a small amount of merchandise to sell at the event and it sold out almost immediately. After the first run, my friend Rhys approached me and offered to help financially so I could earn more. From there, the label just grew.
The idea of the GarbageTV label was to create an avant-garde project based on music. Because my jobs have been mainly in pattern cutting and construction, I wanted to create unique shapes and concepts, while also offering a commercial aspect. I think that’s where the challenges have been. GarbageTV isn’t really in a band – it’s always been high fashion for streetwear and streetwear for high fashion. Then there is the event and the music that surrounds it.
Another challenge is that when GarbageTV started, there wasn’t much like it. But [now], because of the internet, social media, and time, it seems like there are a lot of similar things popping up all the time now. The best idea is not to 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 with the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate now through the brand?
The original idea was to 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 do 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 think in general, I would like to communicate this [the label] it is what it is. Like it or leave it. I really just want to push positivity through the label and push music more than ever, work with young people and help everyone around me grow and be heard.
How would you describe GarbageTV to someone who has never seen it before?
It’s the voice. Loud, punk, hard and fast, but you can lay on it like a pillow.
Where did the name come from?
Growing up, I was a punk/hardcore kid. And I was super passionate about what I love and believe. The event started because I felt there was a lot of garbage around and I wanted to instigate something new, so I called it ‘Gerbage’! then [when I was looking for] tag names, I couldn’t mark ‘waste’. [The only domain name] available for the website was .tv, so it became GarbageTV.
What are you most proud of in your work at your label?
I think growing up in a single-parent household with no money, working multiple jobs and hustling to start a label… it’s always been something I look back on and think, ‘How?’ The other would be Vogue. My whole career, all I wanted was to be Vogue and GarbageTV has achieved that.
We have also been asked season after season to send articles and Vogue in Italy has emailed asking for articles. This is definitely something I am very proud of as an artist/designer. Also, seeing people at events wearing trash [the label]… I’m still super overwhelmed every time. It means a lot to me.
What do you wish you knew when you started?
How hard it really is and how to ignore internet trolls. Some people have a lot of time on their hands.
Who do you think is most exciting in local fashion right now?
I think seeing people who dress and buy out of trend doesn’t follow [what’s trendy on] the internet – it excites me. I also like to see people pushing the performances and costumes too much.
Dreaming of local collaborators?
I would still love the opportunity to work for a big fashion house again. If I could choose one, it would definitely be Margiela.
Playlist to go to dinner?
Anything 80s and post-punk or new wave… always a vibe.
Who’s in your wardrobe right now?
Bernhard Willhelm, Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Walter van Beirendonck and loads of tops… 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 dealers.
Anything else to add?
After COVID, we 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 online 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.