Kirin J Callinan’s Guide to Festival Fashion


Photos by Lincoln Jubb

Latex gloves optional.

“About time,” says Kirin J Callinan in response to the statement in the media hailing him as “the most fashionable man in Australian music”.

Despite the fact he’s just ripped the entire backside of his favourite leather trousers in the midst of a vigorous squat, his feathers remain fairly unruffled as he mentions he’ll need a new leather man, and soon. “I need to get them fixed up asap, I’m headed to the snow and you need a good cod piece in the snow”.

If you’ve ever attended a Kirin J Callinan show or even just perused his Instagram, you’ll be aware that personal style is not something he takes lightly. Though hard to define, his wardrobe includes pastel tanks, oriental embroidery, silk socks and slippers, a touch of tartan, berets and more, all infused with a literal hat-tip to cowboy culture. And, often—evident in a few photos that stubbornly defy the rules surrounding nudity on Instagram—nothing at all.

So when it came down to who would curate our guide to festival fashion at Splendour, there was no-one else we wanted. I ask him the age old festival question, and one that may be plaguing you as you reach for your outfits over the next few glorious days: what’s more important, fashion or function? “People say fashion and function as if they’re two mutually exclusive things but what’s mutually exclusive to me, is art and function,” he says. “But, fashion exists somewhere in-between the two.” So there you have it.

Look 1 : Fruit Bowl Cowboy

Where you’ll find him: “Skulking around the bathrooms or bursting through the saloon doors of the backstage, without anyone saying a word.”

Find him in the mosh at: “Kirin J Callinan, Queens of the Stone Age, The Lemon Twigs.”

Fashion inspiration: “Paul Mercurio in Strictly Ballroom, Country and Western films and Robert Forster. He wore some wonderful crop tops in his time.”

Stylist’s note: “The banana is pretty small, but it makes me look bigger.”

Look 2: Communist Kobe

Where you’ll find him: “Causing trouble.”

Advice for wet weather: “Latex gloves—you’ll keep your hands clean. Everything else can get filthy but as long as your hands are clean, you’re good. You can even go to the bathroom and wash the latex gloves. There’s a certain level of anxiety created by latex gloves in social situations: airports, festivals etc. It definitely creates a certain tension but so much of it depends on the colour—these ones say surgeon, dentist, germophobe maybe.”

Wardrobe staple: “I own more singlets than anything else. There’s an American brand of tank top I like that comes in a kids range, but I just get the XXL size. And silk socks. There’s a sock stand at these markets in London I like, I get a lot of silk socks to go with my slippers. Well they’re not actually silk, they’re imitation silk.”

Look 3: Cowboy en Blanc

Where you’ll find him: “Watching music at the GW McLennan stage, or hitting the whiskeys, slumped over a bar.”

Wearing white to a festival: “It’s a bold move. I’ve done it in the past at Glastonbury. I was staying at a friend’s house and I only had one outfit. I’d come back filthy at the end of the day and the first thing I’d do would be put my clothes in the washing/dryer. I’d go to bed, wake up and slip on the same outfit; it felt very modern, very totalitarian, fascist society. I looked impeccably clean every day, turning up next to these muddy, haggard British people. I was jumping up on stage with a bunch of bands everyday so I was this shining light on stage, lookin’ wonderful.”

Source this look from: “America. The belt was won in an arm wrestling competition in Montana. I arm wrestled some off duty marines and I’m surprisingly good at arm wrestling, I have a very long arm. I did have some assistance however; my friend jumped under the table and gave him a little fondle. He was furious, but his mates thought it was hilarious.”

Look 4: Campside Cook

You’ll find him: “At the campgrounds a week after Splendour.”

Fashion No-No’s: “No, there are no no-no’s. Everything works.”

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