B.O.B: Can you please give us a little bit of an insight into your background and how you got to this point to start this expo?
EGO: I am driven by communities, culture, and building relationships. My passion for human connection started back in high school and university studying Psychology. In 2014, I lost my partner of six years to suicide and I was forced to really question the meaning of life and our purpose within society. From this grief and loss, I went through – and continue to go through – this incredible journey of self-discovery and to be an example of resilience and genuine kindness. This then led me to a role running Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival and later, the Australian Tattoo Expos around the country. I fell in love with the industry, the culture and the creative people that lead their lives living their true, authentic self. We all have a Rite of Passage to live without judgment and prejudice and this is a rooted, core value I hold. In March 2017, the idea to start a new cultural event came to my mind and I knew it was time to venture out alone and try to pursue my own dreams.
Q: How do you see the state of street culture in Australia?
EGO: Street Culture in a global sense has really shifted in the most recent years. Streetwear has always been a distinctive style of street fashion. Rooted from the Californian surf and skate culture, it has always been relevant as it constantly evolves to meet modern society needs. However, Australia is also making its own moves in our own unique hustle. Australian street culture is definitely on the come up and the movement is well and truly here come 2018. More and more underground designers are coming through and daring to dream by creating custom labels that reflect their values, experiences, and identity. I think Australian’s would support Australian labels more if they simply knew where to go and how to find them.
B.O.B: What originally gave you the idea for this expo?
EGO: The idea came from seeing a problem with online independent labels. Technology has revolutionized the way consumers shop and the online market is now saturated with so many labels that shoppers no longer have any brand loyalty to brands. For designers, this is difficult to build customer relationships because they rely heavily on online platforms and often have very limited budgets to arrange pop-up stores frequently to build their community. I saw an invaluable opportunity where I could best serve the street community with my skills and experience to curate a unique platform that will give Australian labels a voice to share their stories and meet their customers face-to-face. It all comes back to human connection.
B.O.B: Why did you pick Melbourne to do the first ever Ego Expo?
EGO: As a start-up expo, Melbourne is home. I am born and bred from Melbourne’s South-East and actively participate in all of Melbourne’s cultural activities. Not only is Melbourne one of the world’s best hub for street art, we also rank highly in our street food and streetwear fashion. We have these pockets of wonderful, creative talent from the live music artists in Fitzroy, a culinary of multicultural food eateries in Windsor, street buskers along the Yarra River and street art that floods the walls of Hosier Lane. A streetwear expo in Melbourne just seems like a no-brainer!
B.O.B: What can we expect to see at this year’s expo?
EGO: Street culture encompasses so many sub-cultures. Visitors are going to be blown away by the elements of hip-hop fashion and music, Japanese street influenced designs, and also skate, tattoo and basketball inspired threads. The Ego Expo is the grassroots of Australian Street Culture and the beginning of a large community that has not yet had the exposure or recognition it truly deserves. Expect to shop affordable, comfortable and one-off exclusive designs in tee-shirts, track pants and accessories like watches, snapbacks, and sneakers. We have three Fashion Runways a day that will entertain our guests in music, dance and new collections from our Australian designers. The most innovative part of this expo is that it is the world’s first, “see now, buy now” runway. For the first time in history, guests can download our Partnered Event App and buy what they see on the runway instantly AND take it home with them ON THE DAY.
B.O.B: There are a few expos around the world of similar nature to what you are sorting out to achieve like Complexcon in the US. Can you tell our readers about how these international shows inspired your vision for the “EGO EXPO”?
EGO: Street Culture originated from the streets of America and is a heavy influence in their communities and history of the country. These international shows bring all things pop culture and streetwear to the one place. For one weekend, the crowds flock to the convention to recognize, influence and celebrate the culture in hip-hop music, fashion, sports, and art. I drew a lot of inspiration from these international events because it is my aim to curate such a high caliber of talent for our Australian Street Culture specifically. I believe that there is nothing else like streetwear that shouts individuality and authenticity. This goes deeper than a “streetwear expo”, it represents our own personal stories. It inspires and encourages others to reach for their dream and not be limited by social pressures or fears.
B.O.B: What are you goals for this show?
EGO: As a launch show and the first of its kind, my goal is to open the doors for the community to come and experience something in lifestyle, music, fashion, sport, art, and food. My goal is to demonstrate that sub-cultures can work harmoniously when we look at the sameness of our values rather than separating us on differences. I would love to see the general public support our very own Australian labels and take the time to understand the stories behind the brands. Once this first show launches, this will catapult Australian Street Culture to a larger scale to be recognized globally as it rightly deserves.
B.O.B: Why the name ‘Ego’?
EGO: This is the one word that separates humanity and divides us in our relationships, countries, and religion. The ego is not who you really are. The ego is all about self-identity, it is your self-image and your social mask to the world. This expo is the ego exposed. Just like there is more to us than meets the ego, there is more to us than the clothes that we wear. My aim is to strip away the ego and focus on the fundamental purpose to connect with other humans, share our stories and have the courage to speak with our voice. Ego Expo is partnered up with our Charity Partner, beyondblue to continuously contribute to the research for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention. From losing my partner to suicide, my mission is to do more for the world and remind others that they are not alone in their struggles. Ego Expo is a NO EGO ZONE.
B.O.B: Where would you like to take this concept and show in the next 3 to 5 years?
EGO: I have big plans for Ego Expo and what it stands for. Ego is a platform for independent labels and creatives to come together, network, gain exposure and build brand loyalty with their customers. There is always relevancy for a platform like this because we adapt and innovate to the needs of the market. Authenticity doesn’t go out of date. In 3 years, we will tour Ego Expo to Sydney, Brisbane and hopefully Perth too. We have had an overwhelming expression of interest which indicates to us that this is a concept that is valued and needed. In the 5-year plan, we want to bring an Australian Streetwear Expo to Singapore or Hong Kong to give our Australian labels a global market and experience. This is a small match to spark a flame that will grow into a wildfire!
“Ego Expo celebrates street fashion, the story behind each label and street food.” Says Mel, ”Ego
Expo will also be the platform where we explore the culture of the streets and address all the
underlying issues the streets face, including suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety and
Exhibitor spaces and tickets are on sale now and 100% of booking fees from all tickets sold will go
towards beyondblue, to assist with raising awareness for anxiety, depression, and suicide.
The Ego Expo Australia
Location: Shed 14, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands 3008
Date and Time: Saturday 17 February, 10am – 10pm, Sunday 18 February 10am – 7pm (After party to follow)
Just everyday, regular people trying to make a difference for the culture. Last month's @streetballmadness2017 x @streetballaustralia made history! 🏀🏆 . . . . #egoexpoofficial #respectthestreets #streetstyle #ootd #streetfashion #menswear #clothing #mensfashion #swag #dope #instafashion #apparel #instagood #fashionblogger #hypebeast #outfit #love #urban #lifestyle #tshirt #street #hiphop #skate #fashionista #model #fresh #supreme #nike #urbanwear #sneakers