An eye for fashion runs in the Barghout family. As children, Tina and Carol Barghout were inspired by stories about their grandmother’s work as a seamstress and when they grew up, both travelled to Milan to study at the Institute of European Design. Some years later after returning home to Sydney, the pair were struck by a brainwave: they would design their own line of cashmere menswear.

“We identified a gap in the market for stylish knitwear for men that was neither mass-produced nor exorbitantly priced,” explains Tina.

Soon realising Melbourne’s climate better suited their brand, another move was made and their store, Robinson Man, opened its doors on High Street in May 2016. The name has multiple origins. It’s both a reference to legendary adventurer Robinson Crusoe and a nod to their brother’s favourite NBA player while growing up, David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson. This blend of classic and cool is reflected in the boutique’s philosophy.

“Our approach is to supply stylish men’s casualwear that’s suitable to the Australian lifestyle whilst maintaining the highest standards of personalised service,” Tina says. “We make deliberate choices to source better-quality manufactured garments that are complementary to Robinson Man cashmere, from brands such as Aspesi, Dirk Bikkembergs, Massimo Alba and James Perse.”

Prior to launching the store, the sisters travelled to Mongolia, which has some of the highest quality cashmere available, to meet with manufacturers there.

“If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of fine cashmere against your skin, you’ll know nothing quite compares for softness, warmth or light weight. It can be four to eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, and a cashmere garment provides insulation whilst not restricting movement,” Tina explains.

“The best cashmere is comprised of fine long fibres. The goats from Mongolia contend with temperature up to -40 degrees celsius, making their raw downy winter undercoat one of the longest, finest and longest lasting natural fibres in the market today.”

Using Mongolian cashmere has other benefits, too, says Tina. It supports the goat herders’ communities and as they are nomadic, their practices also allow the land their goats graze on time to recover. Plus, fleece is obtained via a pain-free process of hand-combing the animals during moulting season.

As for the Robinson Man boutique itself, it has a distinctively Australian feel thanks to its Victorian terrace shopfront and locally sourced materials. A bluestone table crafted by stonemasons in Ballarat sits on display, while the joinery and floor-to-ceiling dressing rooms are made from spotted gum. There’s even a men’s lounge area equipped with a stylish Walter Knoll leather chair.

It is a true experience of our take on what is Australian luxury… The store concept and floor plan make shopping with Robinson Man much more than just buying the latest trend. It becomes an experience, which is the direct opposition to the pop-up nature of most fit-outs these days,” Tina says.

“[And} like the Robinson Man brand, the focus is on quality and sustainability. In terms of the shop-fit, that is minimising built-in structure to allow the elements to be removed and reused in future premises.”

For men in need of a new spring wardrobe, Tina likes an “effortless look”, achieved via “loose tailoring, soft washed/bleached sportswear – new clothes that have a lived-in quality”. She recommends the Robinson Man crew knit, made from 100 percent cashmere – “It's a perfect lightweight option to take with you on trips and can be easily dressed up or dressed down.”

Since opening Robinson Man over three years ago, Tina has fallen in love with the neighbourhood’s village atmosphere and has enjoyed learning the local history via chats with Kenneth Lay and Peter Leaver of Kenneth Lay Antiques. Her favourite haunts include wine bar Wine 1160, The Orrong Hotel for “the best burgers in town”, Safari Living and Loom Rugs for home furnishings, and Banded Together for timeless women’s fashion.

“There’s an inspiring array of businesses,” she adds. “High Street’s boutique scene is one of the most stylish parts of the Melbourne city.”

Robinson Man, 604 High Street, Prahran. 9510 0071 /

Image courtesy of Robinson Man, Jay Wilde & Karen Woo. 

Robinson Man outfit, image courtesy of stylist Jay Wilde and Photographer Karen Woo

Image courtesy of Robinson Man

Image courtesy of Robinson Man

Image courtesy of Robinson Man

Image courtesy of Robinson Man

Image courtesy of Robinson Man

Lifestyle & Design

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