May 5 - 11, 2024: Issue 624


Suzy Morrison's Duke & Hustle

Duke & Hustle:

follow @dukeandhustle

"Made for Heartfill, not Landfill." 

Suzy Morrison, Founder and Creative Director of Duke & Hustle, is a former Newport girl who grew up immersed in the salt water and salt air until that slow stroll that comes afterwards, with crystals of salt still shining on your eyelashes, rainbowing up everything you look at, became part of her self.

That world view from being beside the ocean hasn't changed and has inspired her current venture to celebrate ALL beaches around the whole of Australia in the form of the softest most well made tees, tanks, and hoodies inspired by the coastline. The business uses 100% Australian cotton, practices ethical production methods, and donates a portion of its profits to support marine conservation efforts.

''While rejoicing in it, we know our extraordinary coast hasn’t always been well looked after. We’re getting better at it, our growing awareness is evident, and there are so many positive stories when you look for them.

Duke and Hustle has an opportunity to contribute to that good story. It’s early days yet, but for now we’ll send 5% of our profits to the Australian Marine Conservation Society. By promoting both the beauty and fragility of our country’s coast and its wildlife, the passion of caring for it also spreads. To pick up the plastics and rubbish. To think twice about our stress on the marine and coastal environments. To make decisions that put sustainability first.

So love your local, and love that every Duke and Hustle purchase contributes to a donation to the AMCS.'' Suzy explains

Duke & Hustle will be at the Palm Beach markets for 26 May. This week a small insight into the Duke & Hustle brand and Suzy.

You grew up in Newport and spent time at Careel Bay – what did you do for fun as a youngster?

Although I don’t remember any of my years while we lived at Newport (we moved just after I turned three!), my times of having sleep overs at my grandparents at Careel Bay bring back strong memories of the Careel Bay Marina, where Grandpa kept his boat, Anitra V. We’d walk over from their George Street home and the intoxicating smells of boat engines and fish and general “saltiness” was all pervasive! As a kid it was fascinating, so much load for all the senses, and so many dangers! I loved it! 

I remember we’d wander the sands at low tide poking at crab holes, see movies at the Avalon cinema (I saw Storm Boy there when I was four and of course cried!), swam in backyard swimming pools (with the odd “snorkelling” funnel web), and Grandma’s bottomless supply of “Thirst” flavour and Peppermint Lifesavers kept us with a fresh-breath sugar high as needed. 

At night time the clinks and chimes of boat masts were the soundtrack we fell asleep to. I’m sure as a kid I never entirely appreciated the enormous beauty of it like I do now, but being there was always special – grandparent time!!  

As older kids we’d have our family beach days at Bungan Beach. That walk uphill to get back to the top of the road, when you’re an exhausted and possibly mildly sunburned child… Early school holiday summers were spent down on the south coast for weeks at a time, running around Bendalong with the other kids like mad chickens on the loose, and getting up to all that carefree kid stuff. 

Fabulous environments to be a kid in, and grow up around. Being near the coast has always been a huge part of my soul.

Who is your great grandfather?

On my mother’s side, my great grandfather was Arthur Rickard. A familiar name around many parts of Greater Sydney and beyond! As a realty subdivision specialist he sold land and named, hmm, let’s just say, “a few” streets across the Northern Beaches… 

Where does the name ‘Duke and Hustle’ stem from?

I was living in Freshie when this concept hit me, so the “Duke” was inspired by the great Duke Kahanamoku, and the spirit of the waves and ocean he embodied. The “hustle” stems from the energy we exert to get into that ocean as fast as possible! 

Why did you want to start your own business in the challenging and competitive clothing area?

I’m a graphic designer by trade and I love fantastic, well-considered designs! I’d already run my own client-facing studio for over two decades, and gathered plenty of resources and knowledge from that experience. Looking back, I wasn’t thinking about the competitive industry challenges so much as the joy of creating Australian Coast shirt designs people could love. I guess a little ignorance was bliss? Actually – it still kind of is!

I started Duke and Hustle in 2019 when I saw an opportunity to design bespoke t-shirts to celebrate our coasts. In my beach walking I saw plenty of generic looking beach tees (such as Manly Beach and so on), but was never bowled over by the graphics, which often lifted the look of an American college shirt. I was also determined to use Australian suppliers in the production chain wherever they were available. And from the beginning, D&H has been a slow fashion, made-to-order brand, to rally against the waste and landfill of the textile industry.  

What is ‘slow fashion’?

Slow fashion is the antithesis to our growing problem of “fast fashion.” Fast fashion, loosely defined, is short term fashion trends, mass-produced at low cost, often using synthetic fibres, often manufactured under poor working conditions, polluting our oceans, and likely ending up in landfill.

Slow fashion speaks to quality textiles, utilising natural fibres, made well and made to last, irrespective of fashion trends, as well as upcycling, ensuring workers’ rights, and respecting the environmental cost of manufacture. Our “made to order” model aligns with that slow fashion ethos – quality shirts, made for heartfill, not landfill. 

Where are you sourcing your base materials from?

We use Australian businesses wherever we can. Currently, our shirt blanks come from a family-owned business in Melbourne, and are made from 100% Australian grown cotton. All our vinyls and transfers are ordered through three different Australian businesses in Queensland, we use compostable packaging from another Aussie business, and we have a local garment printer/embroiderer here on the Central Coast we also rely on. 

Why is this approach so important to you?

This Australian coast, that we all love and adore, and all that amazing marine life, it all needs protecting. Fast fashion is a problem for the ocean – microplastics from synthetics, textile waste, excessive pollution and chemicals. 

We know we need to stop taking the planet for granted, put the brakes on the damage we’re doing, and create better habits and options with the choices we make in any object’s life cycle. Slow fashion is one simple way where we can change how we use our resources, and just be prepared to invest in fewer, but higher quality pieces that will last longer. 

I do think about my nieces and nephews and this planet – which, as the saying goes – we borrow from them. I think you always want to return something in better shape than it was given to you. 

Apart from the Duke and Hustle website – is there somewhere people can see/feel these tees? 

Yes! Absolutely – we’re thrilled to be coming to The Beaches Market @ Palmy on Sunday 26 May!

We’ll also head back to Avalon Market on the Green for 21 July, and, we’re road tripping it up to the Sustainable Living Festival in Medowie up in the Port Stephens region for 18 May.

In between those dates, you’ll often find us at Avoca Beachside Markets, and we’re exploring other market opportunities, particularly on the Northern Beaches and Central Coast. We’ll post info across our website and social media accounts as news comes in!

What else is on offer in the slow fashion range Duke and Hustle currently offer?

Our current range offers up short sleeve cotton tees in mens/unisex, women and kids styles, along with hoodies, long sleeve tees, muscle tanks, totes, and caps. We have a few plans in the wings to add to our range – still in research and development phase! 

Our original designs are all about celebrating the Australian Coast – you’ll spot specific beach location tees like Palm Beach, Avalon, Mona Vale, Crescent Head for instance, and our D&H “Origin Collection” tees which capture the feels of life on the coast. 

The beautiful benefit of the made to order model means if you spot a design you like, you can pick almost any tee style and colour you’d like to have it on – and then we make it for you. 

What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?

Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk is a favourite for the bush, the cardio, and those spectacular views. I love any headland with some elevation and distance views, it gives such a broad story of the nooks and crannies of a coastal environment and its inhabitants. Not to mention the whale watching opportunities. 

I’ll always have a soft spot for Bungan Beach. (More cardio!) And Palmy – what a glorious, golden stretch of … well, gloriousness. 

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?

Be ridiculously grateful!