Starting a business wasn’t always what Domenic Quaranta and Curtis Vella had in mind. In the beginning, designing t-shirts was merely a hobby. “Initially it was all a dream. As a photographer, I would always mock up plain shirts with random images ,” says Domenic, Lead Designer and Co-owner. “Once I approached Curtis . . . the dream became a reality.”
Think risqué, funky and fashion forward. These are words that describe Sydney’s freshest, home-grown brand, Fluktu8. Since commencing operation in early 2011, without an ‘official date or cute business anniversary,’ Domenic and Curtis have come a long way. Given that they started selling just 8 weeks into the starting up process, it’s easy to gauge the extent of their success so far.
“It started off pretty sketchy . . . looking back now, we really question what was going through our minds – or at least Dom’s mind,” says Curtis, Marketing and Sales Coordinator. With t-shirts depicting semi-clad women, profanities and essentially the clichéd lifestyle of ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, Fluktu8’s clientele is seemingly obvious.
“We aim to target those who espouse similar ideals to the youthful presence of the Y generation – whether it’s hanging out with our mates or being the drunken clown at the hottest house party of the year . . . The young male with an urge to make that amazing first impression on that cute girl at their mate’s party,” says Curtis. With that said however, Domenic and Curtis are also in the process of creating their female line.
Fluktu8’s designs are perhaps the embodiment of the majority of today’s youth – wild, ruthless and revolutionary, with t-shirts depicting an array of artistic, yet provocative images. Curtis feels that the clothing is ‘wearable’ in that it’s versatile, but also ‘boundary pushing.’
They are inspired by brands such as Ksubi and Flux, as they represent the quintessence of who? they’d like to be. They are also influenced by the party and night life scene, and the vintage inspiration of the late 20th century – two components which are undoubtedly visible in their designs.
Whilst Domenic, the ‘design guru’ is responsible for creating the tangible product of the business which involves a complex process of designing and editing, Curtis handles ‘the heart of the business.’ One can be forgiven for thinking making a t–shirt is easy, especially when the finished product is as skilfully executed as those which Fluktu8 produce.
In reality,the process is quite intricate and involves a series of steps, the most crucial being the creation of the designs which is carried out by Domenic. As Curtis explains, this is where he is ‘in his zone.’ “When he gets his famous ‘Artist Block’ as he likes to call it, I’m definitely not allowed to text, call, Facebook or generally disturb him . . . I seriously doubt that he would be deterred from designing by news of my shocking and horrific death,” he says.
While it’s still early days for Domenic and Curtis, the promising duo are just getting started, as reflected in their desire to ‘expand globally.’ In terms of their goals in the short term, they would like to open their own shop somewhere in Sydney – not just for clothing, but a collection of artistic elements. ”An artist’s haven with collective works, a photography studio and of course a design and printing hub for on-demand work,” says Curtis.
Currently, they are selling their t–shirts on their online store and also through Young Republic, Daily Labels and The Marketplace. Their most recent accomplishment to date is being accepted as a stall holder at Bondi Markets. The duo believe there is a lot of potential for young designers to excel. They attribute their lack of prominence in the field of fashion to a scarcity of ‘funds, experience and contacts,’ rather than a lack of talent.
”If this highly competitive industry gave the younger market a hand, it would benefit largely,” says Curtis. Nonetheless, the two do not intend on letting this impede their desire to eventually expand their business through franchising. “Some say this is surreal, but we believe that if we aim high, and if there is a way, there is always a will,” says Curtis.
So if ‘dress to impress’ is the dress code for the next party you’re invited to, Fluktu8 is the way to go. Impress your mates that is, not your Grandmother. But then again, why would she be there anyway? Keep track of their upcoming lines on their facebook page.