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Industry Insight with Andrew Claridge: How the Gold Coast can be Accepted as a Fashion Forward City

Updated: Jun 2, 2020



Let me introduce you to my friend, mentor and creative associate Andrew Claridge. Known for his client list including Dior, Vogue and Harpers Bazaar and regular contracts with global modelling agent IMG, the producers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, there's one thing you can be certain of, Andrew knows the industry inside out.

I love the Gold Coast, we have so much to be thankful for. I grew up here back in the early ’90s and have so many fond memories. When I decided a couple of years back that I needed a change from living in the big cities, it was a no brainer to come back to the Gold Coast. I travel a lot for work and wanted to live somewhere that wasn’t too small but gave me the serenity of being out of the big cities when I didn’t have to be in them for work, and we really do have everything they have…if not more!

There is a “but” though! Having lived and worked in the fashion industry not only in Australia but also in Europe, I’ve found that we’re still limiting our possibilities here on the G.C in certain areas, particularly when it comes to the fashion industry here as a whole. When I say fashion as a whole, I’m referring to fashion design, shows, photoshoots/campaigns, agencies and even the models within those agencies. Now don’t get me wrong, we have some amazing talent here but we’re not always looking at the bigger picture or recognising that not everything has to be about the sun, sand and surf. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen in this industry, the thinking a lot of the time is still stuck in a small town. We have competed extraordinarily well with our larger counterparts in so many other areas. We have amazing cafes and restaurants with diverse offerings in wonderful locations, some of the best shopping experiences, modern facilities, wonderful infrastructure and architecture and some of the world’s best beaches and attractions. But for the most part, we’ve remained a little stagnant when it comes to fashion, what we create, how we present it, wear it and market it.

When I reflect on what people in other cities or countries say about the Gold Coast, it’s always really positive, but there’s still this notion that we’re just a beachside town full of big lips, fake boobs and bikinis, and we’re certainly not known for our fashion or our models. There’s only one reason for that, and it’s not because we don’t have the talent, it’s because we’re boxing ourselves in and only thinking local. We can be so much more and we can absolutely be taken more seriously if we start thinking more broadly, creating fashion that’s more than resort or swimwear, shooting campaigns away from the typical beach briefs and utilising other infrastructure and landmarks available to us whilst creating fashion events that are more high end and in line with bigger cities. I’m not going to lie, and this may cop me some flack, but the fashion shows I’ve seen here are tacky, disorganised and scream nightclub bikini competition from the ’90s. And don’t get me started on photoshoots and ad campaigns either, if I see one more model looking to the sky with the back of their hand on their brow I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.

If we want to change, we need to look at what the rest of the world is doing. Now I know many of you might say “but we don’t have the budgets here”, and while that may be true in part, we’re also not doing ourselves any favours to generate interest, break the stereotypes and market ourselves to the masses outside of the Gold Coast. There’s a big world out there and as I mentioned before, it isn’t just about sun, sand and surf, so we must adapt to cater for other markets if we want to be seen as a fashion-forward city. Not only this, but subtle changes in how we present and market our fashion can and will also make a big impact on how outsiders perceive us. Being creative and moving away from the skimpy beach photoshoots, utilising our landmarks and venues as backdrops and putting some clothes on our models can make all the difference. Teaching models how to walk for high fashion runway rather than the bouncy, smiley walk frequently seen here can take a fashion show from being tacky to all class. Branch out and use models that have more of a high fashion look rather than the typical blonde bikini girl. I’m not saying that there’s anything at all wrong with this look but if we’re going to be noticed and taken seriously outside of the Gold Coast when it comes to fashion then we have to take note and adapt to other markets. None of these things takes a lot of money but means all the difference in how we can be perceived. It’s these things that can start the revolution and societal change that we need to put us on the par with our interstate counterparts. Working to break stereotypes associated with our region will create interest and open us up to the rest of the country as a real player in the fashion world.

I challenge anyone reading this, to start adapting, start looking at what other cities are doing and let’s start creating some “classy” content. We have everything we need here to do it and we’re only limited by our imagination. Now is the perfect time to reset, start fresh and start creating in line with our counterparts. We don’t have to move away from what makes the Gold Coast wonderful, we just need to try new things and branch out so we can show the other cities that we have what it takes, we have the talent and we’re not just bikinis and kaftans.

Thank you Andrew for your insight into what the Gold Coast fashion industry could be achieving. In a post-pandemic climate there is certainly space for conscious change that benefits those working in our industry and those living in our great city. For those ready to make change and wanting to get creative Andrew is currently offering an exclusive online Modelling Masterclass designed for existing models, models in development or those completely new to modelling. It's an incredible opportunity to garner knowledge from this incredible industry heavyweight.

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