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Colour me Qweer

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After being a hit at Pride festivals across the USA, Qweer Clothing has opened its first showroom in Sydney, writes Danny Corvini

Joshua Bouman moved to New York “on a whim” and lived there for 10 years. Describing it as “a place where anything goes; the epicentre for queers and creative people”, he discovered the skills there to create his own fashion label and market it properly.

After trying a few other things along the way, including a vintage clothing shop and a label featuring digital prints, Joshua created Qweer at the start of the pandemic.  

“I thought, ‘Is it a good idea to start a business at this moment?’” he admits. “I still went ahead and opened an Etsy shop selling baseball hats and because everyone wasn’t doing much and wasn’t spending, it went off!”

Sales exploded further in the American summers of 2021 and 2022 at pop-up Qweer stalls at Prides across the country. “It was just t-shirt, t-shirt, t-shirt, t-shirt, hat…” he laughs. 

He returned to Sydney last Christmas following the death of his father, and stayed on to look after his mother. “It was a very eye-opening part of my life,” he says. “Things were going great, career wise, but losing him was just devastating.”  

He acknowledges that his decision to leave the States was also influenced by the rise of hate crimes and anti-LGBT sentiment, which left him questioning his safety.

He opened Qweer in Sydney’s Newtown just before WorldPride and did a pop-up shop at Mardi Gras Fair Day.

“That was the same euphoria that I felt at New York Pride,” he says. “It was the first time that Qweer was presented to Sydney and the amount of feedback I got from that was just very encouraging and sweet.”

The shop is located down past the station on South King Street, which only seems to get better as a shopping destination. 

“The beauty of Newtown is it’s such a queer area,” he says. “It’s definitely the spot.”  

While he’d have to produce his clothing in a tiny apartment; now Joshua has the luxury of space with his large premises.

“For me, it’s a studio space that just happens to have a shop. All the screen printing and all the embroidery is done here. I don’t do the tie-dye here as I like to do it outside, so I go home for that.”

While we were doing the interview, someone came in to buy one of the tie-dye hoodies with a ‘Qweer’ logo on the front. There’s a large range of tie-dye t-shirts and crop tops featuring words such as ‘faggot’ (which is about taking back ownership), ‘dyke’, ‘respect my pronouns’, ‘love wins’ and ‘I can’t even think straight’, rainbow-clad beenies and caps and newly introduced tote-bags. 

If you can’t make it into the shop, fear not. You can find Qweer online.

432 King St, Newtown