Mambo has arrived! After depriving Americans of one of our country’s most iconic labels for over 25 years, Mambo is finally bringing their irreverent melange of surf/street/skate wear to the USA. How does a brand renowned for their unconventional approach achieve this long overdue leap? Simple: Throw an all-out banging party replete with scantily clad swimwear models, an indoor quarter-pipe and a indie rock super-group amidst the galleries and lofts of Chelsea in Manhattan. Billabout donned its best vintage Reg Mombassa and went to check out the party.
Hosted by the brand’s new “U.S. Mambassaor” and sometimes designer, the actor Ryan Kwanten (of True Blood fame), the event was actually an authentic-feeling, unpretentious warehouse party for 500 of New York’s hottest downtown revelers. As Kwanten held court with journalists in a corner, only the occasional American accent could be heard above the pumping fray of New York’s Aussie community. The pleasures of little Aussie touches like mini-meat-pies, even-more-mini-vegemite-sambos and free flowing Cooper’s beer were not wasted on this appreciative crowd.
Much of the room was given over to a platform of hot swimwear models meant to espouse the 100% Mambo/100% Australian surf ideal, but far more authentic was the throng of party-goers mobbing the table where they gave out free swag. Guests were treated to displays of indoor skate feats, an ongoing graffiti battle and a performance by the Ill Fits (an indie rock supergroup including members of MGMT, Amazing Baby and others).
The night also served as a preview of Mambo’s 2012 Spring collection. Mambo’s aesthetic has evolved little since it’s mid-90’s heyday, and 2012 will be no exception. The brash, tongue-in-cheek prints and slogans that made Mambo famous are central to Australians’ own humor and Larrikin self-identity, but whether a more straight-laced American market, more often immune to irony and lewd jokes, will fall for Australia’s beloved musical dog remains to be seen. So Billabout will be the first to sport our favorite four-legged friend on the streets of New York this summer.
Mambo will be sold exclusively in Bon-Ton department stores. If you’re in New York City, feeling nostalgic after the party and need to get your hands on some new Mambo kit, just Google driving directions to Brick Plaza Shopping Center, Brick, New Jersey to find out.
By Schuyler Weiss