Former soldier invades world of motocross fashion
SEEING a young Afghani man wearing a DC Clothing t-shirt during a deployment with the army in 2010 was a life-changing moment for Mark Fonte.
It was at that moment the former full-time soldier was inspired to create a label that would spread around the globe.
The 30-year-old Birtinya resident has since swapped his camos for a hard hat to work in the mines at Middlemount, near Emerald, to earn the money to fund his foray into the fashion industry.
His motocross-inspired label, Throttle Riders, was born on one of his many ventures to the Parklands Motocross Park in Kenilworth in 2011.
"I was sitting beside the motorbike track looking at the throttle and trying to draw it and the idea for the label name and the designs just came to me," Mr Fonte said. "There was no point in waiting, so I trademarked it and began producing the range."
With online sales and growing interest from local businesses to stock the brand, the one-man business has already begun to expand.
Asha Reeves recently came on board to handle the administration, giving the passionate enduro rider more time to spend on the trails.
Meanwhile Mr Fonte's partner, Airlie Simpson, is lending her artistic skills and feminine flair to the creation of a women's line, which will be launched later this year.
The Throttle Riders range includes nine different styles of t-shirts in six colours, plus singlets and caps and the range is always growing.
Mr Fonte was ecstatic to see young men on the Coast don his designs and hopes one day Throttle Riders will be up there with trusted motorbike brands Thor and Shift.
"When people wear those brands, you know they are riders," he said.
"My next step is to go nationwide and to sponsor riders from every state who are hopefully getting podium places.''