– by Elizabeth Sonter
When Brisbane Lions forward Marco Paparone started his label, Scaly Mates, this year, he wasn’t expecting that the first shirt he created would be one of the last gifts he would give to his father.
The passing of Claude Paparone this year, shortly after Father’s Day and Marco’s birthday, has given the 20 year old more perspective and drive to continue his passion of design, thanks to the support of his mum and siblings.
“[My father] never got to see the chosen styles that were released for The Summer Scaly Collection that went live on the first day of summer. Even though my father has passed away, I know that he is smiling upon us and very proud of us, keeping his spirit of playfulness, mateship and connection with the ocean and the earth alive.”
Paparone started the label this year, but in truth it began as a child, making use of the drawing board that was set aside for his father and sister’s ‘grown-up’ projects, finding motivation to learn more about clothing and fashion.
“When I was growing up, I loved sketching and tracing in my spare time. Dad would spend hours drawing up plans for the new house he designed or my sister would be tackling university design assignments. Whenever [the drawing board] was free, I would draw and play with various designs.”
The young athlete-turned-designer chiseled the Scaly Mates label out of prized moments with his family; catching fish off the beaches, snorkelling for octopus and crab hunting in the moonlight during summer adventures in Busselton and Exmouth. As is the case for many Australian families, surf bands were a staple in the Paparone household. Comfort was never out of reach in his wardrobe with a “ridiculous” collection of board shorts to accompany annual 5 week fishing bonanzas with his father and brothers.
“Since a young age, I watched my brothers continuously buy labels from surf brand clothing like Quicksilver, Billabong and Rusty. My sister always followed fashion and would spend the majority of her pay on new clothing and would shop with me for new wardrobe essentials.”
Next year, Marco’s brother Cabe, is part of a team participating in the Rottnest Chanel Swim under the name “Swim for Claude”. The team has been sponsored by the Australian Cancer Research Council to help raise awareness for the many faces of cancer and its heartbreaking role in many Australian’s lives. Each member of the team will be donning Scaly Mates shirts during the 19.7km swim to honour Claude.
The shirts are understated and ocean specific, each one sporting a different critter: the West Australian Dhufish, the Prawn, the Blue Swimmer Crab, and the best of all marine life, the Sailor.
The Scaly Mates horizon is as endless as the West Australian coastline, with big plans for collections including hats, swimwear for men and women, children’s clothing and a boutique store, built on the admiration of numerous local and international brands. Marco names a few he would collaborate with in a heartbeat.
“Salty Shoes, my local go-to in Fremantle MiLife, High and Lowes and international brands such as 24 Kilates would be an opportunity that would be very cool.”
It is obvious that this label represents more than an entrepreneurial expedition for the young designer. Each question was met with the reinforcement of family values, bonds between mates and the importance of enjoying today.
Photo Credit: Scaly Mates
For more information and brand info visit www.scalymates.com.au
And check out their Instagram @scalymates