NEW YORK If recent events are anything to go by, skateboarders and their laid-back lifestyle are back in fashion. Like Red Bull and Malibu Rum before it, Bon-Ton Stores brought a pack of skaters and half-pipe ramp to an indoor venue on Wednesday. The gathering at Drive In Studios marked the U.S. launch of—and the Pennsylvania-based retailer's exclusive relationship with—Mambo, an Australian clothing brand popular with skaters and surfers. But rather than host a fashion show and presentation, production outfit Studio HS opted to build an informal setting to evoke the more mellow culture of the brand and its home country, as well as underscore the key ideas of surf, skate, art, music, and humor.
For the 250 guests—largely journalists and brand executives—the west Chelsea venue felt like a secret underground club for Aussies. Skateboards and surfboards littered the space, colorful graphic designs from Mambo's collaboration with various artists coated an array of surfaces, and waiters dressed in T-shirts, board shorts, and flip-flops passed bites, while two artists squared off in a live graffiti battle. To close out the evening, Sydney-born True Blood star Ryan Kwanten, the night's host, took to the stage to introduce the band Ill Fits, which performed live.
To incorporate Mambo's spring/summer collection into the event, Studio HS fashioned a handful of vignettes. The largest was a vintage Volkswagen van parked in a corner and surrounded by T-shirts, shorts, and shoes pegged to a clothes line, propped beside surfboards, and draped over driftwood. As a tongue-in-cheek reference to food trucks, servers handed out tacos from inside the van.
In fact, the Pinch Food Design's menu was very much a part of the overall aesthetic and included Down Under favorites like Vegemite (a food spread) and toasted cheese sandwiches, meat pies, and Tim Tam-style chocolate biscuits. Some dishes were even presented on skateboards.
Attendees didn't leave without souvenirs—in addition to sunglasses in the gift bags, guests could get their photos taken with surfboards and have a T-shirt screen printed with one of four graphic designs from Mambo.