Moments before jet-setting off to Paris Fashion Week, Ed Maradona, Founder and Creative Director of Perth-based designer streetwear boutique Cabinet Noir, sat with us to chat about streetwear culture, the struggles of ‘brick and mortar’ retail and how a love for sneakers and breakdancing turned into a fashion career.

“We’re finding our customers want to see the people behind the company and that our staff become part of the experience of coming into the store.”

At age 17, Maradona’s love for hip-hop began and he started a career in break-dancing. Growing up in the 90s hip-hop era, he was introduced to streetwear culture at a young age and was always an avid sneaker fan with an extensive collection.

Maradona fell into the fashion ‘culture’ when he realised it could be used to create your identity. What followed was the launch of the first curated streetwear boutique in Perth ‘Cabinet Noir’.

As the director of a predominately streetwear-focused boutique, Maradona says, “the style has become a platform for big designers to reach out to the younger demographic. But many don’t realise that original streetwear dates back to the 60s disco funk and 70s New York mobsters eras. They used fashion to represent who they are. Nowadays streetwear is all about the aesthetic.”

“You see kids wearing metal band t-shirts but they’re not into hard rock, they just like the look, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just where we’re at.”

In an online dominated industry, Maradona had some insights to share on what the road ahead looks like for quasi-offline retailers. He says, “with online stores offering free shipping, express overnight delivery and incurring zero overhead costs — how the hell do we compete with that?”

Cabinet Noir’s response to online fast fashion is to slow things down. Taking a scaled-back approach to retail, the team is focusing on bettering the in-store experience. Maradona says, “the future for shopfront retailers lies in creating a unique experience for customers, so they come in for an interaction that’s more than a quick swipe of the credit card.”

“Our number one product is our service, without that were like any other store. With online brands popping up every other day, retailers need to focus on maintaining their longevity.”

The Perth streetwear boutique has installations, pop-ups and future collaborations with international brands in the works. Maradona draws inspiration from brands like Supreme and Louis Vuitton who have had successful pop-ups in Bondi, Sydney, he says, “that tangible experience is something the online brands cannot compete with.”

He likens buying for his boutique to the experience of fine dining.

“Going to fashion shows is like going to fresh food markets, you need to pick the best produce and learn how to cook it”, says the streetwear enthusiast.

Maradona’s commitment to the craft and love for what he does, not only keeps Cabinet Noir thriving but recognises him as one of the Faces of Future of Fashion Perth.

Stay tuned for the next face.

Interested in a career in fashion styling? Register your spot for our next Perth Workshop here.