GEOFFREY J FINCH: ANTIPODIUMFebruary 16, 2013
On an unassuming street in deepest East London, well away from the bustling high street and nestled in among neat little houses, there’s a small studio and inside that small studio is Antipodium. It seems appropriate that the brand should live here in this modest yet offbeat location. A bunch of Urbanites (that’s us) got the chance to raid the studio and workspace while we interviewed Creative Director and nicest man in the world, Geoffery J Finch, mere days before their first catwalk schedule show at London Fashion Week.
The catwalk show was this morning and we’ve been silently applauding Geoffery and his team ever since. Read on to find out how he made it from intern to top dog in only two years, who his surprise influences are and what the hardest thing about roller blading is.
First of all, how’s it all going before fashion week?
Erm, we are surprisingly organized? I was just saying to the ladies that its weird cause we are expanding a lot of in America at the moment, you have to have a collection ready for them early, so I came back from New York on Monday morning. We flew over there and we shot our own showroom look book, we have a few last minute things to do. I am waiting for that moment when I hate it all actually.
Is this the collection behind you?
That’s the line up for it, that’s for our showroom. The show won’t be too dissimilar.
That yellow pleated dress is awesome…
Yeah so there is a whole gradient of colour. We have a lot of colour this season, but there are some neutral options…
It’s really nice!
Yeah, we have collaborated with Craig & Karl. Karl is based here and Craig is based over in New York, they do amazing things and are very old friends of mine, Karl’s actually my flat mate. But yeah we are super old friends from Australia and I guess they have this amazing graphic penash and sense of colour is amazing. Yeah so I guess that has sort of very much influenced the collection.
Its seems very much more like block, you always do sort of block colours but it seems a bit more… It seems more grown up?
Yeah a lot of people have said that, yeah maybe it is. Maybe it’s the texture that plays, a little more grown up. But you can see from their work that it is. They’re super clever, so I guess that had a lot of influence on it. Also, my stylist this season is also another really good friend of mine. We actually all go on holidays together, and she has sort of encouraged the faboosh.
Who’s the stylist?
Yeah she is an incredible Texan girl.
Have you has any last minute changes right before it went out?
Yeah, there were a couple of changes today, and there were a few ladies that had to get busy with the pattern cutting on a couple special pieces we’ve done for the show. I mean it could all change again, I remember last season, our show was at 5 in the afternoon on the Saturday and its 3 am on the Saturday morning and we decided we didn’t like how it was looking. That’s the thing with fashion you can actually change it really quickly. We collaborated with an architect last season and he was just like, “it’s really bizarre in fashion that you can just change it like that”…
And what can we expect from the actual show?
So we are showing at the London Film Museum, it’s a very graphic environment; it’s sort of all black and white, so yeah it should be good. Sharon Stone has had a very strong influence on this collection, particularly in Sliver? Which isn’t the worst movie ever and also in Basic Instinct, yeah she is incredible in it. I just remember as a kid being like ‘she is so glamorous’! Now you watch it and you are like ‘this is like soft porn’.
We love all the little weird influences you have that we would never think of. But you always hear that designers are inspired by the weirdest things. Have you got any others?
Well yeah CCTV inspires me. The first one is called Candid Camera, I get really fascinated by surveillance cameras and I kind of like the shapes and how they communicate with each other. It started with this image and then moved on to effect robots and how they influence people, and we also have Double Take which is Sharon looking through a telescope and we can see that famous Basic Instinct sign that we see in the other one.
I guess there is so much sharing going on under surveillance. I think it quite bizarre in a way, and the phycology of the selfie, the weird voyeuristic kind of things that people enjoy. I think it is an interesting dynamic to look at the modern times.
I actually I was reading a really good article by Suzy Menkes, about how years ago they would all arrive at shows. You know underground, down town places wearing all black. But now you arrive and it is Anna Dello Russo, I think it has gone from crows to peacocks. It’s interesting.
Are you a people watcher anyway?
That’s not a weird question is it?
I am, I guess the thing I am most interested in is people. I don’t think we are a fashion brand with a capital F. We are about underlining the personality of our wearers. So, yeah I am very interested in people. I think if I didn’t do fashion I would do sociology or something. You know, looking at Instagram you learn so much information so quickly from it.
It’s interesting to see what people find interesting to Instagram.
Yeah, I am sort of looking at my niece who is 15 in Australia. What ever happened to depressed self-conscious teenagers?
They have been replaced by super confident, super chilled, very attractive teenagers.
Yeah, why can’t you be fat with a big gap between your teeth like I was?
I hope she doesn’t read that…
Speaking about how you look at people, and underlining peoples idea about your brand. Is it more important to present a show that people will love, because they love Antipodium, or for it to be brand new and exciting constantly?
It’s a gentle blend of both, I think as a designer it is really important to be pushing yourself and also I think that the real challenge in that is to stay true to your brand, and actually making subtle changes if you have changed to make. I think the wonderful thing about shows is that you get to flesh out ideas and actually with pre-fall collections you are constantly like, ok you know that style didn’t quite make it for that collection, actually it was bloody awful. But that sleeve was really nice so we will work on that for next season and make it really good for then. Ultimately that makes it better for the consumer aswell.
So we heard that you became a Creative Director within two years… how?
I arrived in London and was working in retail. I come from a wholesale background in Australia. Prior to that, I been living in France and studied the principle of haute couture, had an interview at St Martins, and they were like we love you, yeah come over. But foreign student fees were like no… that’s not going to happen. So then I decided to take the back door to fashion, then started to work in retail.
I had a huge experience while working in London, in Australia I was earning loads of money and I discovered that I was quite good at sales. I come over to London and was like woah. I started interning at Antipodium, when it was a shop/wholesale and PR agency, then started running the operation there. I don’t know we just saw a bit of a gap in our rails.
What do you think is the most important lesson that you have learnt along the way?
I would say that it would probably be, and sounds really cliché, but you just have trust yourself really, that is such a cliché thing to say. When getting in to the stages where you’re dealing with big department stores, not particularly in this country. But then you are like ‘do a sequin dress… okay!’ and its just looks fucking ugly… and your like actually this isn’t me. Stick to your own aesthetic, sometimes it goes wrong but its pretty good to learn from that.
And what is your proudest moment to date?
Getting my first ever order from Barney’s and that was a really like OMG moment. September 2011 it was my birthday on the 19th October. I went out and got really drunk, I then had an osteopath appointment the next morning. I was waiting for the osteopath, steaming through my hangover. I look through my phone and then the Barney’s order came through and I started crying. The osteopath was sort of like ‘Are you okay?’
Will that still be your greatest success?
Yeah I guess, I refocused the brand and straddled between Australia to here in our first three years. Then I decided that we needed to be more focused in London, because I wanted not be giving half and half. London has been good to me, and I feel very at home here. I decided to bring it all over to London, and with Barneys coming on board that was sort of a marking point. We have had a lot of success with Japan and since then, last year was a crazy year where we doubled the business. It was like hold on to your seatbelts, it’s shaping up to be another double this year.
What could you not do your job without?
You have to say that because they are here.
No really, they make it happen. I would be absolutely lost without them. I’m really proud that I have a nice team, and we all have a lot of fun doing it. The work very hard under quite difficult circumstances.
They seem very happy
I actually just drugged them all before you arrived.
Do you consider yourself more Australian or more English?
Well yeah, I’m still pretty Australian. I lived here for 9 years.
Wow, that’s a long time
I mean you do pick up a lot from 9 years, and also preferably because I love the culture here and I love London so much, you pick up more of it. Sadly the accent hasn’t come yet.
Do you really want it?
No, I kind of look at friends in Australia who have Kylie accents, you have to really work at that. You can take the boy out of Toowoomba, but you can’t take the Toowoomba out of the boy.
Do you make your own clothes?
Sometimes, well we used to do a lot of menswear and where our ladies business has grown so much. Menswear has been a side burner at the moment.
Is it because you are surrounded by clothes all day, that you can’t be bothered when you are on your own?
Yeah, I guess so. I literally haven’t had any time with shopping. The last time I went shopping was on Boxing Day. We travel a lot and when we see things we are actually looking at retail and are sort of like, that’s nice we will come back to it. Hopefully this year will be more about me.
What’s the most exciting thing that your work has enabled you to do?
Meeting lots of interesting people, loads of freaks… But good freaks. Also because we deal with a lot of collaborations with different artists every season, we get to hear lots of interesting stories.
We want to know a little bit more about the freaks?
Well yeah, you sort of encounter lots of people along the way. We once did collaboration with an aboriginal artist who lived in the desert in western Australia. We went to the desert and one of them ate lizards. You sort of meet people like that who are standing in the foyer of American Vogue, showing one of the editors and Anna Wintour was there sort of reined on. So yeah you get to meet a lot of interesting people. Well fashion people really are freaks but that’s what is loveable about them.
Fashion people are freaks… that’s the quote we are using for the top. Do you ever hear anyone talking about Antipodium or wearing your clothes and feel like running over and saying… That’s meeee?
I do have this weird fascination but it depends on the situation. I try not to be too creepy about it. I have found out a really interesting element to it, seeing how people have adapted to their wardrobes, to see if they have done it in a good or bad way. It would be quite awkward to be like ‘No your not wearing it right’.
What’s going to be big next season?
Colour, I think we will see a lot more of sort of head to toe colour with an off element.
So like one colour?
Yeah, then it will be more plays on textures and I think that will be quite big.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Oh dear, I’m really good at flower arranging. We actually don’t have any flowers, which is really embarrassing. I get quite obsessed by it.
Can you tell us a joke?
It can be rude
What’s the hardest thing about rollerblading? This is actually my favourite joke *giggles*…
Telling your parents your gay
Check out some of Geoffrey’s magnificent creations…
Fresh from the look book.
Excited about London Fashion Week? Look at THIS.