Mambo is not just another surf wear label. Undoubtedly Australia's most irreverent and outspoken brand, Mambo celebrated 30 years of idiosyncratic Australian humour and perverse national pride with it's own retrospective exhibition featuring the largest collection of Mambo works ever assembled at theNational Gallery of Victoria in 2014. Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence presented all the ground-breaking ideas, subversive politics and off-the-wall larrikinism that have made the label one of Australia’s most memorable brands.
From artist Richard Allan’s infamous farting dog print to rockstar Reg Mombassa’s ‘Australian Jesus’ Hawaiian shirt, Mambo has tackled racism, jingoism and commercialism – and even poked fun at the very subculture they were supposedly targeting with their clothing and accessories.
Irreverent art and humour
Established in 1984 by founder Dare Jennings, Mambo built its foundations on an irreverent combination of art, humour, music and surf. Pitched squarely at the average Australian, under the art direction of Wayne Golding, Mambo is credited with introducing art and humour to the previously logo-driven and humour-challenged surf wear industry.
Self-described as the ‘bastard children of surf culture’, Mambo gave rise to one of the most recognisable, authentic, vernacular, politically incorrect yet intensely political brands to rise out of the excesses of 1980s Australia. Mambo’s social commentary and political astuteness is embodied by all 250 artists that have worked for the label over more than three decades.
From Surrealism to the Sydney Olympics
The brand’s artistic reputation and voice was solidified in 1993, when Mambo was invited by the Art Gallery of New South Wales to exhibit alongside an international collection of surrealist art in the show, Surrealism by Night. In 2000, the label reached new international heights when it was selected to design the Australian athletes’ uniforms for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Search eBay to pick up your favourite vintage Mambo shirt and wear it loud and proud.