If you live in Melbourne, you’ve probably taken a walk down Brunswick Street: looking for a new café, something exciting to wear, or a gig by a band you’ve never heard of. You’ve probably passed by a vibrant little boutique called Melko.
Melko is a place of dreams, mission, and art, and is brought to life on the streets of Melbourne from the designers of South America.
Maybe it was destiny, that after visiting the Melbourne Filmoteca my grandmother came back and excitedly urged Jess and I check out a clothing company that had been featured. We were presented with a catalogue, a confusing description of where the store might be located, and the name: Melko.
Lured by the bright colours and gorgeous designs, we visited the next day.
Where is Melko?
It turns out Melko is not too hard to find, despite the directions we’d been given. They have occasional pop-up stores in the CBD and occupy 3/232 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Melko Garage, 98 Bridge Road Richmond played host to our meeting with Melko’s Managing Director Guido Melo.
A man with seemingly boundless energy and a propensity for impassioned political discourse, we were both incredibly impressed by his warmth and friendly demeanour, as well as his passion for the company he runs. We spoke about Brazilian stereotypes, current politics, life goals, and of course: gorgeous clothing.
What does Guido do?
Guido is the main point of contact between Melko Australia and the clothing designers in Brazil. He liaisons directly with most capital cities in Brazil, as well as Lima and Peru. He also takes photography for Melko’s look-books, visual merchandising, and is the point of contact for marketing.
What is the idea behind Melko?
“My original dream”, said Guido, “was to show that South America had fashion, beyond the banana cliche and the carnival. I wanted to show that we have artists, we have creatives.”
Before Guido started Melko, he was a computer technician, and used his weekends to sell baby socks from Brazil. He and his partner Amy started the brand 11 years ago, and it has flourished under their passion and love for what they do.
They only design certain aspects of the clothing line. “It’s not so much a creative process”, he says, as much as it is picking certain options. “I can pick the process, but I’m not a creative”.
While the inspiration for the brand came from the quality of art and culture in Brazil, Guido admits there was also a personal side to the stores’ creation.
“There is a constant search for me to prove my worth in the world, I guess”, he said.
“Growing up as a black man in Brazil – or as a black man, period – people are always in doubt of your capabilities and I think that always was a point for me. I don’t have to, but those things are stronger than your rationale.”
How ethical is Melko?
Guido ensures to the best of his abilities that everyone along the line is being treated fairly. Beads for some of the jewellery is sourced from the Amazon, and Melko trades directly with Indigenous populations. They make sure to pay fair working wages to all those involved in the creation of their products.
Guido seems aware that while there will always be a market for stores like Melko, the majority of consumers are driven towards cheap, mass produced items. But when we asked what he plans for the future, he stayed upbeat and explained that he wants to further develop their online presence. He told that he’s excited to get the message our there of what Melko is and why everyone should love it. “There will be a focus on the facts: everything is handmade, everything is from South America.”
More than fashion
At the end of our interview, Guido presented us with a CD that contained a playlist of Brazilian (and Brazilian-sounding) songs. It’s something they give out to all their online customers so that they can immerse themselves in art and sounds from the place their clothing came from. Even though Guido insists he isn’t creative, Melko also has a Spotify playlist with the same idea as the CDs, with a more hands-on twist for the customer. It’s a collaboration that opens new doors for the company to communicate to those who love their clothes, and we think the idea and music itself is very much like Guido and Melko: passionate, upbeat, and inspirational.
This article was first published in late 2016.
Know of any undiscovered boutique or labels in Melbourne? Send an email to email@example.com
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