Grab your brightest doof coat. Club clothing is back

After languishing in sweatpants,designers assured us that dopamine dressing would satisfy major fashion withdrawals but for young customers millennial pink andBottega green barely scratch the persistent itch to express themselves.

Searching for something stronger to wear at revived festivals and reopened nightclubs,instead of dancing at home with nobody watching,has encouraged strong sales of lurid coats and psychedelic printed T-shirts.

Club wear retailer Jade Matthews (front left) with staff at store Tibbs and Bone.

Club wear retailer Jade Matthews (front left) with staff at store Tibbs and Bone.Joe Armao

For the first half of the year at club wear specialists Tibbs&Bones,on Melbourne’s nightclub-laden strip of Chapel St,sales were up by 300 per cent on previous years,including before Covid-19. Sydney’s Double Rainbouu in Paddington is also attracting those who start nights out in the early hours of the morning with clothing for all colour cravings.

“After a couple of years of no parties there has been an influx of sales,” says Tibbs&Bones co-founder Jade Matthews. “There were plenty of parties and doofs over summer and sales have stayed strong with people planning their outfits for the next wave of events.”

Doofs are outdoor dance events,requiring doof coats,fluffy,multi-pocketed items that can cover metallic vinyl bikini tops or golden hot pants in early morning Uber queues. Imagine the sound you hear standing next to a speaker playing psytrance music at deafening levels while you sway beneath the gum trees and the doof description begins to make sense.

Colour and bold prints are all the rave at Double Rainbouu as fashion optimism takes to the dance floor and beyond. Models Myka and Aidan Ouma-Machio feel the groove.

Colour and bold prints are all the rave at Double Rainbouu as fashion optimism takes to the dance floor and beyond. Models Myka and Aidan Ouma-Machio feel the groove.Nick Moir

“They’re our most popular item,” Matthews says. “You can’t go out without a doof coat at night,or you will freeze. You need the pockets,the hoods,the works.”

For Matthews renewed retail optimism fits the store’s mission to make people feel comfortable expressing themselves in ways that grey hoodies and sensible slacks won’t allow. While they compete with other club specialists in the digital market space the in-store experience encourages personal growth alongside sales.

“Ours is a very safe space,” Matthews says. “It’s a place for people to come in and experiment. We get young people trying a different way of dressing for the first time,that’s more niche than what mainstream retail chains can offer.“

Mikey Nolan,designer of Sydney urban surfwear brand Double Rainbouu,sees the kaleidoscopic rush spreading from beneath the mirror balls in the outback to city streets,with the label’s latest collection raiding the Pantone colour chart’s brightest moments.

“We were surprised at how popular colour and print stayed during lockdown,” Nolan says. “I think people needed a lift of some sort. Since then,we have turned it up a notch in celebration of a more free world. With the return of travel,festivals and clubs,this is just going to continue.”

Flame print jeans,neon palm print Hawaiian shirts and fluffy green hats are fuelling the party spirit,although Nolan’s inspirations are found closer to Burning Man and Coachella in the US than Australian bush doofs.

“Our muse was a young eccentric southern California artist type,” he says. “Even if it’s not literally worn to the club it has an inherent sense of escapism and it personifies a sense of hedonism that has been missed in recent times.”

The music world is part of Double Rainbouu’s eclectic DNA,with Nolan having collaborated on pieces with DJ/musician Flume in 2020 and worked managing party nights in nightclubs before pursuing a career in fashion.

“Back then I was wearing black jeans and a black leather vest,” he says. “We were obviously more worried about getting things dirty.”

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Damien Woolnough is the acting National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

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