As True Blood‘s scene-stealing Jason Stackhouse, Ryan Kwanten plays a hard-partying ladies’ man with a heart of gold…and abs of steel. And at last night’s U.S. launch of Australian skate and streetwear brand MAMBO, we got the opportunity to kick back with Kwanten amidst a crowd of graffiti artists, skateboarders and members of the press. I’m happy to report, dear readers, that the Aussie actor’s pecs are just as perfect in person.
Set to retail Stateside at The Bon-Ton Stores, MAMBO’s spring collection includes patterned flip-flops, streamlined aviator shades and Bondi-Beach-ready bikinis. And while you might not recognize the MAMBO name right off, Ryan said that the label is huge on his home continent. "My first pair of boardshorts were MAMBO!" he told me. "The brand approached me at the beginning of this year. I’d had several clothing companies ask to do stuff with me before, but if I wouldn’t use or wear something, it’s impossible for me to sell it. I’m not a salesman!"
But he is a fun-loving Bon Temps cop…on the small screen, at least. Ryan said that although Jason’s look has become a bit more professional to reflect his new career, "you’d never catch him wearing a suit." And as for the main difference between his character’s style and his own, Ryan laughed, "I think Jason’s jean size is at least two sizes smaller than mine!"
The actor’s new "Mambassador" gig will also see him dipping into the design arena for the first time. "I’m actually doing a couple of the T-shirts in the line," he explained. "I’m obviously going into it from an uneducated design point of view, but I have a very vivid imagination and my ideas were really in line with the MAMBO style."
And even with surfer culture influencing fashion now more than ever, Ryan’s convinced that MAMBO’s Aussie spirit will set it apart from the pack. "It really captures the Australian sense of humor," he said. "We’re very sarcastic, we’re not afraid to make fun of ourselves and we have a naturally adventurous spirit."
Turns out, however, that not everything Australian-branded is the real deal. Nodding approvingly at the Coopers Pale Ale I was sipping, Ryan confided that a certain so-called-Aussie beer is anything but. "We don’t even buy Foster’s in Australia!" he exclaimed. "We export it because it’s that terrible. So it drives me crazy when I pass billboards with these surfer guys on them and it says ‘Australian for beer.’ False advertising!"
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