Luxe serve of sustainable style
Mark Philippoussis says it was his own frustration at being unable to find classic clothing which ticked all the boxes that led him to create a new label from the ground up.
A self-confessed lover of quality clothing and good design, Mark felt inspired to create a fashion brand with an uncompromising dedication to comfort, style, sustainability and longevity.
The result is As We Create – a collection of consciously made luxury essentials in clean classic designs.
Chatting with the Aussie tennis legend who now calls Jan Juc home, his genuine passion for the venture is palpable as he explains how he has nurtured the project along for 14 months, from the initial idea through until last month’s launch.
“I love design – love clothes – but no matter how beautiful something might look, for me, if it’s not comfortable, what’s even the point?” Mark asks.
“If you are wearing something because it’s a name brand but it’s uncomfortable then you are doing it for the wrong reasons, you are trying to impress someone else and that’s not where I am.
“Comfort is everything, I want to wear it, I want to live with it, I want to move in it and I want it to mould to my lifestyle.
“For me the fabric being incredibly soft was number one and the design was about making it simple, not flashy, not too many stitches and zippers.
“A design where you can bring out that piece in 10 years’ time and it’s still going to be good.”
The launch collection in a monochrome palette features a tee, pant, hoodie and sweatshirt – all Australian made using natural organic fabrics. It isn’t Mark’s first foray into fashion and the lessons learned from his Phlip Apparel label, launched nine years ago, have been invaluable.
This time, the man who rose to No. 8 in the world in his chosen sport has taken a methodical approach to business, staying true to his vision and values throughout.
“I’ve got a very specific vision whereas I got a little bit lost that first time,” he says.
“This time I designed all the patterns myself for every single piece.
“I picked the stitching, I picked the fabric, I worked alongside the designer on the logo … I’ve asked a lot of questions and I’ve put my own money into it.
“Honestly, when I got my first order, I was just so excited – whether I sell one t-shirt or a thousand t-shirts, the joy is the same. I look at everything before I send it out because I’m not sending anything out that is below perfect because this person has worked hard for their money, they’ve supported me and bought my product.”
The garments are priced from $90 and Mark has gone to great lengths to ensure the fabric won’t go out of shape or shrink.
He is now working on his summer collection, with a new t-shirt and shorts due for release in a couple of months.
In the meantime, he is relishing the Surf Coast lifestyle with his wife Silvana, a model and author, and their children Nicholas, 7, and two-year-old Maia.
They moved here in January having regularly stayed on the Bellarine and Surf Coast and Mark previously having a holiday home at Anglesea for many years.
“The coast is who we are, that’s what makes us happy and the lifestyle is so positive,” he says. “What we love about Jan Juc is that even when this area gets busy in the summer it’s so well spread out you don’t feel like there are too many people.
“It’s like a small country town community, everyone is so supportive of each other – I love the community vibe, it’s incredibly welcoming and a beautiful place for us to raise the kids.”
Mark says coastal life also caters to his love of surfing which he describes as his “meditation”.
“You get back out of the water and all of a sudden an issue or something you’ve been worrying about, that worry is gone,” he says.
“You can think clearly – it just cleanses you, it’s an important part of my life.”
Family life is his number one priority and a quick scroll through the many happy snaps on his Instagram makes no secret of his adoration for Silvana and the positive life they are building together.
“My priority has always been my family, that’s how I was raised, even when I was playing tennis my family was the priority above tennis,” he says.
“My wife and children are my happiness, they are my inspiration and motivation – it’s what wakes me up and why I want to build this brand to be successful, it’s because of them.”
As for his offspring, the proud dad says Nicholas is a natural athlete and Maia is a dancing princess.
“My mum says Nicholas is the spitting image of me,” he says.
“He has got endless energy this kid. He plays basketball and soccer. I get him on the court a couple of times a week for tennis and he’s obsessed with surfing.
“He loves it all so I’m just throwing everything at him and being there to support him. It’s awesome.
“Maia, the best way to describe her is just a princess. She dances and sings and does shows that we have to sit down and watch which is great.”
If you don’t spot Mark around Jan Juc and Torquay, fans of the TV show SAS Australia will soon see the 44-year-old testing himself to the limit as a contestant on the gruelling reality program.
“The only thing I can say at the moment is that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’m looking forward to watching it on Channel Seven sometime after the Olympics,” he says.
“It was an incredible experience.”
Discover more on the As We Create website and on Instagram follow @aswecreate, @mphilippoussis and @sphilippoussis.