Meet Your Maker: Sam Cottee Of Vanguard

  • Style
posted by Kate McCart

I caught up with Sam Cottee, one half of the sibling duo behind one of our favourite Aussie coast to curb labels, Vanguard. Known for their range of ‘Serial Chiller’ printed tanks, tees and sweaters, upon meeting Sam you’ll see the brothers didn’t dig deep to come up with the laid-back slogan – he’s pretty nonchalant himself.

As the brand’s Creative Director, Sam shared his picks from the new season collection, as well as the scoop on what goes on behind the scenes at their Burleigh Heads warehouse, the beats he’s been blasting and their latest collaboration with model and blogger, Mimi Elashiry.

So, you guys are brothers? Any sibling rivalry?
A little healthy brotherly rivalry is always going to be constant in our dynamic, but for the most part we’re a pretty solid team.

How did Vanguard come about?
Almost a decade ago a couple of young dudes who had no idea what they were doing decide to print a range of tees in the family garage – it all stemmed from there.

The fashion industry is a bit of a hard one to crack, how did you guys get your foot in the door?
Ignorance is bliss! We just approached a bunch of stores with our first collection of tees. We got in a few doors and  have kept looking forward.


Walk us through your design team’s innovation process for the spring summer 2014 collection?
I will spend a few of weeks trawling stores, markets and the inter-webs for garments, art and print references to  put together a clear mood board and range theme which we can use as a reference point for the rest of the design process. Every print and garment has to fit within that brief to form a cohesive collection. I’ll brief our graphic artists, draws new shapes and liase with suppliers to gather fabric, wash and fit references. Then we will put the prints together with the garments, create tech packs and send them off to our suppliers for manufacture.

Tell us about the collaboration you’ve been working on with model and blogger, Mimi Elashiry?
The Mimi x Vanguard collab came together pretty organically after she and her mates had been shooting our product while on a road trip in Byron Bay. I met her at a party while down there and knew we had to work on something bigger together. She’s the imaginary poster-girl we dreamed up when starting Vanguard 9 years ago.

Designing collections over a year before they hit the shelves, how do stay on trend?
You just need to stay on top of what’s happening in your market all the time. We look at what is working for the brand and see how we can advance that and make each collection stronger than the last. It’s also really important to stay true to the brand message so that the consumer is not getting mixed messages.


What will we see you wearing from the new collection?
It’s getting pretty damn warm in Queensland now, so I’ve been running the Serpent Safair Beach Short, Chillers Muscle Tee and Roots Snap Back – it’s a pretty dope summer getup. The Hood Rats Tee and the Ballin & Chillin Muscle Tee are also personal favourites.

Describe your workspace?
A couple of years ago we moved into a warehouse in Burleigh Heads and fitted it out with mezzanine office space fully constructed with ply. The stained timber desks look  pretty rad against the industrial interior of the warehouse. We have a heap of space downstairs for samples and product storage, as well as a little drop down photo studio. Being less than 5 minutes drive to Burleigh Point has its perks too!

Walk us through a typical day at Vanguard HQ…
Emails, meetings, design work or whatever random admin, marketing, sales or PR task that needs to be done that day.


Tell us a couple of strange/quirky things that take place behind the scenes?
Me and our graphic designer losing our shit over stupid puns we come up with for prints and the the ‘bizness’ man (Jono) coming over and shutting it down.

What’s been playing in your head phones lately?
I blast it through the office, but anything from old Wu Tang, Arctic Monkeys, Black Lips or Skaters.

Describe your morning routine…
Wake up, surf, throw shakas, brekky, coffee, work.


Local watering hole?
My mates balcony on top of Burleigh Hill.

Post-surf grinds?

Magic board?
Dead Kooks twinny with flame spray for extra speed.


Next surf trip?
Central America or Mexico

What’s the next big thing coming out of Vanguard?
Plaid drop crotch pants for extra gangsta lean!

Check out Vanguard’s clip for their new collection, Moneyball.