A former Queenstown resident is starting to get noticed in
Melbourne as he collaborates with Australian street artists
in what is believed to be a world-first project.
Christopher Skyner (31) was widely known in Queenstown in his
capacity as Good Group's events manager, being recognised in
2010 when he was named a finalist in the ''outstanding
hospitality personality'' category in the Restaurant
Association's Southern Lakes Hospitality Awards.
However, at the end of 2011 Mr Skyner, originally from the
United Kingdom, moved to Melbourne ''basically wanting to do
something for myself''.
Inspired by the street art decorating parts of Melbourne, he
decided to work with the artists responsible and provide a
''wearable canvas'' for their work. However, it took almost a
year of work before his dream started to become a reality.
''I'm English, I'm from New Zealand, I have a hospitality
background and I have no experience in retail.
''I approached artists for months, put proposals together,
approached gallery spaces ... it was a bit of a risk for
Eventually, Melbourne-based street artist Steen Jones shared
Mr Skyner's vision and the pair began working together on
Under the collaboration, Mr Skyner locates a street space
where a mural could be created, pays for the materials for
the mural and finds an artist to create it.
The first mural was completed after Mr Skyner raised more
than $10,000 on Pozible, the Australian version of
crowd-funding website Kickstarter.
Artwork is taken from the completed murals and used to create
limited edition T-shirts.
Attached to the T-shirts are swing tags which include
information on the artist along with a barcode which can be
scanned with a smartphone, giving directions to the original
Before the official launch of Authority Clothing last July,
Mr Skyner was invited to showcase the collection in three
Melbourne runway fashion shows.
While the reaction was positive after the showings, ''nothing
''I didn't make sales for two months after that,'' he said.
''I moved out of my house and took the bond from the house
and moved into a hostel, putting the money into the business.
''I moved to a different hostel every three weeks and put up
posters around the hostels.
''I was networking the whole time and building up the
clientele. It's a good way to build a database.''
However, recently, the brand has started to gain some
traction, helped in no small part by celebrity clientele
giving Authority Clothing exposure.
Mr Skyner said he was approached by a PR company based in the
United States wanting to represent his brand for $1500 a
''I don't have $1500 a month to throw at a PR firm in
''I thought I could probably do a better job myself.''
After learning rapper Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, was about
to play in Melbourne, Mr Skyner and a bouncer friend took a
couple of his T-shirts to the venue and managed to talk his
way inside, leaving the T-shirts for him, along with a note.
''It just said 'Welcome to Melbourne, it would be rad if you
could rep local'.''
Snoop did not wear the T-shirt during his show, but a few
days later a photograph appeared on Instagram of Snoop
wearing Mr Skyner's T-shirts - one he also has on in his
latest music video.
Mr Skyner said he recently held a meeting with Snoop's agent,
who told him the marketing value of the photo and video was
Rapper Daz Dillinger, who appeared with Snoop Dogg in the
music video, had messaged Mr Skyner asking for another
T-shirt which he, too, would wear in a music video.
On March 14, Mr Skyner received confirmation Authority
Clothing would feature in New Zealand hip-hop DJ and producer
P-Money's new music video with Gappy Ranks, a British
dancehall musician, filmed in Melbourne.
There was also a possibility the Authority Clothing movement
would go international, with potential for a mural to be
created in New York and the brand appearing in T-World, the
world's only dedicated T-shirt journal, published by Eddie
Zammit, of Australia.
''It's pretty bloody awesome,'' Mr Skyner said.
''It's so exciting.
''I've had lots of breaks, but I work 12 to 15 hours a day,
every day, seven days a week at the moment.
''This is crazy coming from someone who used to pour drinks
for a living.''