SHAUNA TOOHEY &
Since their inception in 2000, P.A.M. (Perks And Mini) have gained an international cult following thanks to their distinctive graphics and excessive attention to construction and detail, traversing the worlds of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste, music, art, fashion and more, whilst constantly pushing the boundaries of contemporary clothing culture. We delve deep into the brains behind Perks And Mini, Shauna Toohey and Misha Hollenbach, to talk collaboration, mutation, and building your own creative universe.
MH - Misha Hollenbach
ST - Shauna Toohey
For those that aren’t familiar, what is the guiding ethos of Perks & Mini?
MH/ST: PAM is about Better Living. It’s a celebration of life, both on this planet and any other we are on.
You’ve developed PAM for over 16 years working as a couple. What’s your working dynamic? Do you think it’s been a key to the brand’s success?
MH: PAM is still what it set out to be: a way to share the life that Shauna and I (Mini & Perks, our original graffiti names) are living. We’ve always enjoyed travel, creativity, and fun with friends, an experience shared with others. We love our (this) life and want to share it with anyone that cares for discovery, interest, adventure, and the odd psychedelic.
ST: PAM started as a collaboration between us, and it still is. Collaboration meaning we both bring something and respect what each other bring. Misha and I are both fire signs so we push each other, and we don’t like ‘comfortable’ or ‘easy’. That can be hard for people around us (read arguments in the studio) but that’s the dynamic. We share a belief that what we are doing is needed, that we have something to share and to bring to a larger conversation.
P.A.M. (Perks And Mini) Lookbook Imagery
Misha, you got your first break working with Erik Brunetti. What did you learn? Any particularly strong memories?
MH: Erik and I connected with each other before there was the internet. We used a fax machine to send each other visual messages (an analogue DM), and soon after I moved to LA to work with him at FUCT. I didn’t have a laptop, so on the first day we went to Kinkos and took one.
Shauna, what was your route into the creative world?
ST: I think it’s inside me. I have always been attracted to independence and I have largely followed my interests and my heart doing what feels right. From an early age, I wanted to design clothes – my grandmother was a couturier, but I didn’t want to make dresses, I always wanted to make streetwear. I took photos as a teen which is something I continue to do and I was keen to make ceramics for a time, something I want to get back to someday. I ended up going to fashion school but I was always doing other things as well as designing clothes, like making zines, taking photos, writing short stories, or making graphics. I was lucky to get my first job as the design assistant for the womenswear designer of Stussy in OZ. She was one of my first mentors, looking back I was/am lucky to have a few of them to help strengthen my resolve.
The underlying theme of this season’s men’s collection is RE_SEARCH. Can you explain a bit about that?
MH: Re_search is the constant flux of looking and re-looking. It’s digging, and it’s finding. Scratching the surface isn’t deep enough but, even then, the truth may be revealed. There are LIZARDS amongst us…
There’s a lot of mutation references running through the collection. How come?
MH: We have to keep moving. We have to keep changing. Not necessarily evolving, but changing, mutating. With every day comes a new day, and to be truly open and ready we have to be able to adapt. Nothing ever stays the same. Nothing is a given. We also would like to stay outside of the everyday. It’s about the new day. We are also interested in breaking, not cracking the code. Breaking patterns, sometimes through making new ones.
ST: Mutation is one of the frequent themes PAM uses. We like it because it conjures feelings of unconventional or unexpected revolution. It’s something we value and desire.
If you guys could have a mutated body part, what would it be and what would it do?
ST: I would like to have a third eye. I know it’s obvious, but it would be amazing to have that vision, although a tail would be pretty sexy.
MH: For me, my being to turn into liquid.
This season’s women’s collection looks towards the idea EXHALE. Can you explain a bit about the graphics and their inspiration?
ST: The graphics were to communicate the simple idea of remembering to breathe. Everything from a plush toy with a huge head (that’s what happens when you don’t exhale), and the Three Graces classic painting reminding you to party and let loose (this encourages breathing), to wind instruments and other things that make you breathe.
MH: BREATHING is life. EXHALING is going with the universe.
P.A.M. (Perks And Mini) Purple Hoodie and Mutagenesis Bomber Jacket.
You both recently moved from Melbourne to Paris. How have you found the transition?
ST: It’s been a few years now, so the dust is settling. It’s been an adventure, I feel blessed to have the freedom of movement to be able to do this. Spending time in a foreign country with a foreign language has created a lot of personal growth and perspective. The beauty and trash of this city are inspiring. We have also had the chance to do a bunch of residencies which has pushed our work and continued our interest in art and publishing.
MH: Paris rules. The energy is super strong. We live in a vibrant, hyper, and extreme part of the city. This is excitement. Every moment there is something mind-blowing; a random Holyman, the beautiful light, and gangs of teenage gypsies. The city is full of life.
What books are you currently reading?
MH: À Rebours, a novel on taste and decadence by Joris-Karl Huysmans. It’s a story of reflection on a disgusting life of decadence in Paris, and a retreat to the countryside to spend a life of aesthetic contemplation. Also, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben which is about how trees communicate with each other. I also just read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, a voyage of self-discovery and the quest for Nirvana.
ST: French textbooks - it sucks, my brain feels like a rock.
What would your ideal day off look like?
ST: Sleep until noon, eat & drink then go back to bed
MH: Sleep ‘till almost noon. Start cycling/trekking, walk to an amazing lunch, then further cycling/trekking into the night with the possibility of finding mushrooms en route and adventuring into the wee hours.?
Your approach to graphics is quite rudimentary – cut & paste as opposed to sourcing imagery from the web. How come?
MH: Jamal Moss (Hieroglyphic Being) wrote on a (most excellent) mix CD ‘sound quality is not an option’. I believe in the message and the concept. The production is irrelevant. Also, I’m self-taught and still use old versions of software. I also prefer to cut straight from books/photos, and I also realised that I can’t really see without glasses (a revelation) so I have basically been fumbling/feeling my way…
ST: I agree, the message is the point and the reason for being.
How do you feel PAM differs from other graphic-focused brands?
ST: We’ve made our own aesthetic. We have built a world not just with clothing and graphics but with music, parties, food, books, art and fun. It’s deep.
MH: We want to explore concepts and messages, and share experiences. It’s not business or ego-driven, it’s a celebration of the world around us.
Snapshots by Shauna and Micha from a recent trip to Milan, Italy.
There’s a recurring sense of psychedelia throughout the brand. Why?
ST: We use it to invoke freedom.
MH: "Once the doors have been open, they will never really shut."
Describe your best trip in 3 words.
MH: I can do it in 3 letters: OMG. In 3 words: Perks and Mini…xx
ST: Elastic time folds.
What can we expect next from the label?
ST: More exploration of the super things that humans can do and that the world offers if we just open our eyes. We want to inspire and turn people on. We want to be a positive force and continue to build a global community of freedom fighters and free thinkers, with good style.
MH: MUTATION. We don’t know what comes at the beginning of every waking day. Let’s see. This is an exciting way to live.
Finally, what emoji would you put on an acid tab?
MH: The mushroom emoji.
ST: I guess the door emoji or the black hole in the floor.
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