Michael Lenaghan: Canberra’s Fashion Mogul
Michael Lenaghan is a 19-year-old Canberra creative and the founder of his own fashion label, PUR, which can be found online at www.purclothing.com. His keen business skills have resulted in renowned national and international musical artists owning his clothing, and even granted the brand its own store in Braddon for a period of time. At the same time, Michael is far from a superstar, being fresh out of school, living at home, and taking on odd jobs such as being a pizza delivery boy in order to fund his dreams. I sat down to speak with him about his foundations and his goals for PUR.
Q: Where did the thought of starting a clothing label come from?
The short answer is that it was something that I was interested in and then decided to pursue after vaguely seeing my brother and a few other people attempt it. Those ideas were really interesting to me and it made me think, “Oh, that’s something I want to do.” But the long answer is that I was interested in business from a very young age, and my mum took me along to all these business conferences. I was just observing business constantly, and after a while I realised that I wanted to practice what I was seeing, and that’s when the opportunity came to open up a business like PUR.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?
The people that inspire me the most are people who have extraordinary work ethic, such as Gary Vaynerchuk. And then in terms of fashion, my biggest inspiration is probably Kanye West because of his versatility with the arts, being able to go from music to fashion, from fashion to music, almost like a little Da Vinci in the way that he experiments in different art forms. That’s something that I eventually want to do. And of course, he’s black, which is a huge thing because it showed that it was possible to be able to achieve in a world so dominated by white people.
Those are the two that jump out at me, but there are people that have inspired me from all aspects of life. Jesus is one; I grew up in a Catholic school. I don’t believe in religion like that, but just the stories and the ability to have the whole world around him are amazing. A huge amount of people believe in Christianity because of his teachings and his ability to speak, and his leadership. Those are the three, and that has no religious connection, that’s purely a G respecting a G.
Q: How did you get the money to start and continue the brand?
I think I was in year 10 or year 11, I don’t remember too well, but the way I got the money was working at McDonalds. I was just working and I saved up $200, and my friend, Joshua Yarde, who also started the company with me, saved up $200. He’s no longer with us. The maintaining just came from working, I guess. There was a lot of business failures, and there’s still a lot of business failures, but investing in ourselves is almost our strongest asset. We all have our own little ways of earning money to then put back into what ultimately stimulates our brain, which is business and clothing and design.
Q: Does being a Dominos driver build character?
I only recently quit Dominos, last year; my first year out of school at 18 or 19. Dominos definitely builds character because…it’s f*cked. You have all this time in a car, alone, thinking about whatever the f*ck you think about, which was really just a way to manifest thoughts, and think about what the f*ck I’m going to do so I never have to drive in a Dominos car again. It was also a way to reflect on sh*t, but it was probably the leading to the worst point in my life, because I overworked myself, scrubbing those floors at 1am, which f*cked me up. But it built me up.
Q: Which fast food restaurant has the freshest employee uniforms?
I think the trashier the uniform the better. I remember rocking up to a party in Dominos uniform once, because it was fresh. But the best uniform, just because it’s so trashy and it’s so popular, is McDonalds. If you wore McDonalds purely for aesthetic – holy sh*t.
Q: In your eyes, what has been the biggest success to come from PUR?
I don’t know if I give a f*ck about one particular success, or if I ever will give a f*ck about one particular success. I think for PUR, it’s more about the journey and the progression. The whole progression of it is one major success that continues to feed my hunger. I think if I was rolling off that, I wouldn’t be doing it, just like half of these brands that quit way too early because they’re trying to strive for a particular thing. Your goal shouldn’t be how many clothes you can sell or how much money you can make, it should be about the journey and finding where you fit, and ultimately finding how you’re going to revolutionise the industry.
Q: Where can we purchase some clothes?
Online (at www.purclothing.com), and through the OGs. Come find us.