My first experience of Australian menswear sensation M.J. Bale was when I received a necktie and a copy of their in-store magazine Manual in a gift bag from an event hosted by Q.T. Canberra last year.
The necktie that I received is a gorgeous pale blue wool affair in a very interesting shade and texture, and I was instantly captivated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn it since I received it, but I am always complimented when I do, and to this day it remains looking brand new.
I was naturally intrigued then to learn more about M.J. Bale, and subsequently purchased two pairs of the best-fitting chinos I have ever owned in my life from their Sydney store. These chinos are sadly out of commission at the moment (break-up kilos, let’s not talk about it); but their design and the quality of the fabric used in their construction is really something else. I find it a little hard to believe that pieces of such high quality are from an off-the-rack chain, but that’s sort of the whole point of M.J. Bale really.
Founded in 2009 by former Herringbone front man Matt Jensen, (the ‘MJ’ in M.J. Bale), and is inspired by Jensen’s desire to use only the best local fabrics available, namely Australian superfine wool and Australian cotton. Jensen wanted to create a uniquely Australian menswear brand that would appeal to the common-sense mentality most men tend to have when shopping.
Jensen is quoted as saying that for years the Australian men had only the choice of over-priced international brands, or relatively lower quality Australian labels. Seeing a very large gap in the market for well constructed and locally sourced menswear, Jensen sought to provide the Australian male with high quality garments that were reasonably priced, and could compete in design and quality with other premium international menswear labels.
Jensen’s desire to provide a close supply chain between the Australian woolgrower, Italian weavers, Japanese tailors and the ultimate customer product. has lead to a truly remarkably developed brand with a loyal customer base which plays an active role in the direction the label takes, with the introduction of sub-labels—Blue Label, Classics, Collection and Custom— which cover all bases of the good/better/best/sublime quality versus price spectrum.
M.J. Bale offers strong competition for local and international menswear labels on the Canberra scene, and I for one can’t think of a better gauntlet to throw for the consumers like myself who are captivated by quality and a polished menswear look, but who can’t necessarily afford to shop at Pitti Uomo; and I am excited to see what the 2016 Fashfest collection will showcase from the brand.