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Mambo (also, 100% Mambo and Mambo Graphics) is an Australian surf and street clothing brand. It was launched in 1984, by Dare Jennings and business partner, Andrew Rich in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria.
In the early 1970s Dare Jennings owned a large and successful screenprinting business Phantom Textile Printers, producing t-shirt and fabric prints for a variety of commercial clients. He also owned an independent record label, Phantom Records.
Mambo began life as an “after hours” project in the Phantom artroom. The graphics were initially created by in-house artists such as Jodi Phillis, and by freelance artist, Richard Allan whose first t-shirt graphics, ‘Real Wrestlers, Real Wrestling’ and, ‘Call Of The Wild (Farting Dog)’ were the best sellers.
Richard Allan’s arrival at Mambo was followed by other Australian and overseas artists including, Reg Mombassa (guitarist and original member of Australian rock band, Mental As Anything), Robert Moore, Paul McNeil, Marcelle Lunam, Matthew Martin, Gerry Wedd, Robert Williams (US), Trevor Jackson (UK), Rockin’ Jelly Bean (Japan) and more recently, Josh Petherick, Ben Frost, Kelly Smith, Marty Schneider and Kareena Zerefos.
In 1993 Mambo was invited by the Art Gallery of NSW to share wall space with an exhibition of Surrealist art, ‘Surrealism: Revolution By Night’. The following year the company released, ‘Art Irritates Life’, the first of its three books. The release coincided with the launch of an exhibition of original Mambo artwork at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin. Mambo has also exhibited in London, Bologna (Italy) and in Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and Powerhouse Museum.
In 2006, Mambo held a show of original 3D art titled 'A Bunch of Kunst' at Monster Children Gallery in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Featuring the work of Paul McNeill, Cupco, Gareth Wills, Scott Dettrick, Reg Mombassa, and Gerry Wedd amongst others, the exhibition was a quasi-launch for a series of conceptual concession stands and installations that were installed throughout Australian fashion retailer David Jones' stores nationally.
Mambo opened its first store in 1995. Located in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, called the ‘Mambo Friendship Store’. Stores opened in other Australian cities and in the UK, Europe, Asia and NZ. By 2001 Mambo had opened 25 independent retail stores.
In 1994, the first Mambo ‘Loud Shirt’ was released. The design was influenced by the famous Hawaiian ‘Aloha’ shirt. It was called ‘Blue Hawaii’ by Martin Plaza (a band mate of Reg Mombassa). This shirt became one of Mambo’s best sellers and started the Mambo ‘Loud Shirt’ style.
After the Summer Olympic Games, Dare Jennings was approached by Gazal Corporation to buy the brand. Dare Jennings sold the company in March of that year and took over the roll of creative director. He left the company two years later, in 2002.
In 2012, Mambo has entered into partnerships with key players in the US and Brazil with plans to introduce the brand on a vast scale in each country.