Focusing on fashion design half the year and his art practice the other half, JORDAN GOGOS spends the whole year questioning the context of his work, historical value and the concept of sustainability.
Walking into Jordan Gogos’s studio in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, the first thing you notice is how tidy it is. 'This isn’t normally like this,' the 28-year-old tells Broadsheet. 'We just knew you were coming so we literally just tidied everything up last night.'
'It’s never been this tidy, ever,' confirms Gogos’s studio assistant Mary Argyropoulos, who is studiously sewing together fabrics for one of many upcoming projects. There are several on the go – not necessarily all at once, but close to it. Currently, Gogos is creating furniture with fabrics made with the same compression techniques – in which he compacts deadstock fabrics together – he used for his show stopper collaboration with acclaimed fashion designer Akira Isogawa at this year’s Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW; Afterpay has since departed as sponsor).
Surprisingly tidy, yes, but there are still mountains of scrap fabric everywhere, spilling ever so slightly out of tubs or piled on shelves. One corner is a rainbow carnage of colourful yarns and fibres. Gogos gestures to one particular heap, 'That whole trolley right there is going to be about 20 new artworks.'
Does he also live in similarly colourful chaos? 'My house has nothing in it,' he says. 'People expect a lot of stuff, but all I have is a black couch, a table and a metal bench, a TV, three artworks and a great bed. At home I need a place where I can turn the noise off. Pre having a studio, my studio was my house, so for years there was no barrier.'
Artist, fashion designer, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary – a lot of terms get tossed around trying to describe what Gogos does. But the most accurate might be the word 'question'. Gogos is constantly questioning: 'What can I do next? What happens if I did this? How can I apply this method to this next project?'
Since Gogos debuted his eponymous brand, Iordanes Spyridon Gogos, at AAFW back in 2021, there have been plenty of attempts to put him into a neat box. When he’s a guest at the annual Australian Fashion Laureate awards, he’s hailed as a visionary fashion designer. But when he’s exhibiting at Sydney Contemporary or collectible-design gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert in Rushcutters Bay, he’s discussed as an artist who happens to make clothes on the side.
'In short, I just call myself artist and designer and all things in between,' says Gogos, who has recently had four of his fashion creations acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. 'One of my teachers at Parsons [School of Design in New York], Allan Wexler, he’d hand out these blank business cards and fill in the answer as needed.'
Today, if he were to fill in the blank, Gogos might say 'artist' as he is in his 'art half' of the year. 'The first half of the year was my fashion half. I get bored really easily so I constantly want new parameters and new challenges, and [am] finding new ways to contextualise my work.'
'...in the fashion industry, the biggest thing that’s not spoken about is this glossed-over sustainability, [which has] very limited oversight.'
Context, for Gogos, is everything – for example, does the context of his work change if it’s shown at fashion week, versus an art gallery? That context also relates to the location of his studio, and how it might impact the context of his work. 'I was even wondering at one stage – you know how people put tags that say "Made in Australia"? What if I put "Made in the Powerhouse Museum" on my stuff? Does that change historically the value of this piece?'
But whether he’s working in the realm of art, design or fashion, the one consistent question Gogos asks is about the concept of sustainability – particularly in the fashion industry. 'I feel like in the fashion industry, the biggest thing that’s not spoken about is this glossed-over sustainability, [which has] very limited oversight.
'I could get a piece of cotton and literally coat it in polyester and legally I don’t have to describe it as polyester. I just say the fabric composition is ‘X’. This is so interesting to me – I mean, it’s terrible but it’s interesting how people can make up their own rules and their own approach to sustainability. Yet in food, you can’t make up what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. It’s interesting and disturbing at the same time.'
Broadsheet’s Studio Visit series takes a peek inside the creative spaces of Australia’s best artists, designers and makers. This article was first published on Broadsheet in September 2023.