Fortriu began in 2013 as a passion project for long-term mates Adam Giles and Ben Abraham. Created as a counterpoint to the safe conservative style choices presented by other companies with hollow identities and massive cookie-cutter collections, Fortriu aims to provide something different in the Australian marketplace by offering unique and contemporary headwear alternatives, built around their ideology of self-expression and individuality.
Currently operating predominantly in the fashion world, Fortriu at this stage offer 5 specially designed snapback style hats, all with a heavy emphasis on self-expression for the user. Fortriu isn’t interested in pigeonholing itself though, and is open to expanding their business into other realms of fashion should the demand arise.
We got in contact with Co-Founder and Chief Fashion Director Ben Abraham, who at the time was over in London overseeing the brand’s first visit to the prestigious London fashion week.
Eamonn Warner: What was your background before starting Fortriu?
Ben Abraham: My partner, Adam Giles and I originally met working as colleagues in a completely different industry – sports management, back in 2009. Whilst he has continued to develop his career in the same industry overseas we’ve continually kept in contact and always bounced business ideas off each other. It is only recently that he has returned home to focus on Fortriu.
In contrast, I’ve been searching for my passion at uni; starting off studying interior design before transferring to Law/Commerce and now on the path to complete the singular Bachelor of Commerce degree (majoring in management) half way through 2015.
EW: The name “Fortriu” is an interesting one. The closest definition I can find for it is “the name of an ancient Pictish Kingdom” (they were a medieval people in Scotland), or “Fortius”, which is the latin word for stronger. That doesn’t seem like the traditional inspiration for the name of a clothing company. What was the inspiration behind the choice?
BA: You’re not as wide of the mark as you may think. The links between the two are very important. Yes, the name originated from the Pictish Kingdom in what we now call Scotland – but it means so much more than that. How Adam and I interpreted the name “Fortriu” is the reason why our ideology isn’t coined with some minimalist term like “salt”.
The significance begins with the notion that Fortriu was THE Kingdom; it was the Provence ruled by kings. Fortriu was a kingdom of passion and prosperity. It was at the centre of the region. It was the stronghold for the entire nation.
It is from this impression combined with the notion of “Fortius” that has created our ideological brand. Fortriu isn’t some meaningless name that sounds cool and different. The name represents strength, vitality and prosperity.
EW: “Uncompromising. Unapologetic. Unique.” Those words seem to be a kind of mantra surrounding a lot of the material on the website and social media pages. What was the origin of that phrase?
BA: These words encapsulate what we’re all about. They articulate the heart and soul of the brand just like the phrase “Express Yourself”. Together they both depict the irrefutable essence and spirit of the brand. They truly communicate Adam and mine’s passion along with all the other significant stakeholders involved with Fortriu.
Uncompromising – Yes we are continually looking at ongoing trends and styles within the marketplace but don’t expect us to conform to society. We’re continually changing but we will always be true to who we are.
Unapologetic – Our approach and style. What we do and what we have here at Fortriu is difference. We are redefining individualism as a style. If you’re content with normality that’s cool, but you’re not for us.
Unique – We are different. We are original.
EW: You seem to take a lot of inspiration from photography and art that you find through Tumblr. What do you think makes that platform such a good source of inspiration for your designs?
BA: I’d use the cliché saying that art is everything. It is literally everywhere you look. So when we speak of inspiration, we can also refer to art. It can essentially be anything, anywhere at any time. This is why we absolutely love using Tumblr as a platform to articulate our thoughts, passion, feelings etc. It is an online network not only representing people but also their interests, feelings, motivation and inspiration.
EW: The “5 Designs” is an interesting concept. What made you settle on that?
BA: In this day and age there is never a scarcity of designs. If you think of already established headwear brands they’re coming out with 40+ product collections. So whilst we are entirely focused on delivering only the finest we’re realistic enough to understand our position in the marketplace. We’re starting small to ensure we focus wholeheartedly on each and every individual product range so that quality is never compromised.
EW: Have you got a particular favourite among the designs? (Personally, I like the Luminous. I think it’s the silver badge.)
BA: For me, it’s hard to pick one standout from the range as we’ve looked to create a range with varying design elements and flair. But if I had to choose I would say Luminous.
I really love the vibe Luminous gives off. It’s slightly different to the others with the black on black and leather on wool combos. But it’s actually the purple tones that I feel really tell a story about the user – passionate, creative, fun and a little edgy.
Fortriu’s collection can be found on their website here. They are also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.