Grade Company. Troy O’Shea Handmade. Interview.
Hello, Troy! Tell us a little about yourself before we take a full interview.
Hi, my name is Troy O’Shea and I’ve been making caps for about 2 and a half years now, using vintage sewing machines. I’m interested in all things old, but more specifically workwear, sports and military… and these provide inspiration for the things I love to make.
We know that you are fond of biking, because your range includes a variety of cycling caps. Where does this love for this sport come from?
I’ve always ridden bikes since I can remember, but my love for cycling really started while I was living in Japan. I bought myself a track bike from an ex-Kieren track racer. That bike not only helped me explore the beautiful town I was living in, it also helped introduce me to new friends which is so important when living in a foreign country. It wasn’t until I returned home to Australia when I began road cycling, which I still do weekly.
You specialize in the production of caps. Why exactly did you choose them?
I bought a beautiful handmade cycling cap when I was traveling through the US a few years back. The only problem was that it was too big for me, so I decided to buy a sewing machine on my return and alter the cap to fit. That cap basically inspired me to try my hand at making some myself, and the rest is history as they say.
You are constantly expanding your range, just recently adding absolutely new models of caps. Tell us about your sources of inspiration.
I’m inspired by everything from the past, pieces I’ve been collecting over the years from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. I love recreating these pieces, putting my spin on each of them but never moving too far from the original design. I’m particularly interested in late 1800/early 1900’s baseball style at the moment and have been working on some reproductions of late.
Several months ago you had the first retailers. Who became them and how did they manage to cooperate with them?
I was lucky enough to be contacted by the guys at the Strand Hatters, which is one of (if not) the oldest hat shops in Sydney. I have another retailer as well, Corlection, who are really well-known in Australia for selling some of the best Japanese brands. I’ve always had a great relationship with these guys, so it was only natural that they would stock my product sometime down the track.
Most of your caps are made from Collect Mills fabric. As far as we know, the owners of this factory cooperate not with everyone. How did you manage to win the respect of Collect Mills?
I was lucky enough to be introduced to Collect through a close friend. My wife and I contacted them direct ourselves, and organized a meeting while we were in Japan visiting family. They’re really great people and i feel very lucky I’m able to work with them, and their fabric range is absolutely awesome.
Recently you had a collaboration with one designer, John Tesoriero, better known as Papa Nui. You have absolutely different aesthetics, range and goals. How did you meet and what did you unite?
John actually contacted me about working together on a military inspired cycling cap. I’ve been a fan of John’s work for sometime, so I was very excited to be able to collaborate on something together. John has great vision for his products, and tell’s an amazing narrative with each of his products, so I feel very fortunate to be able to work with him on some limited products.
Last year, the Russian photographer Alexey Eruslanov shot the editorial for your brand. This work was published in latest “Men In This Town” issue. How do you evaluate the result of your teamwork, and should we wait for something similar in the future?
Working with Alexey was amazing. he’s extremely talented in that he understood my brand and vision, and was able to translate into the pictures he took. I’d be honoured to work with Alexey again in the future! If things all go to plan, this will happen sooner rather than later.
Well, we started talking about Russia, what do you think about our country?
I actually can’t say that I know a lot about Russia, but speaking with yourself and working with Alexey has really been a great experience. I would love to visit Russia sometime in the future!
Summing up, share your plans for the future.
I’m going to continue sourcing and recreating interesting designs from the past bringing them back into the present. I’ll be working more with Papanui on military inspired designs as well, which is very exciting. I’m also looking forward to working with more creative and innovative individuals and businesses in the future.