Photos by Zachary John

Representing EQUALITY

1. Can you tell us about your journey into fashion, your career highlights and what led you to be so passionate about it? (

After graduating high school I was accepted into a prestigious university with an offer to study a double degree of Law & International Relations, majoring in International politics. Needless to say I found the long hours of reading the Australian constitution very dry and tedious. I fell into styling through a friend who is a well respected fashion photographer and he suggested that I foray into the world of styling and creative direction. I dropped out of university and never looked back.

2. Representation in fashion is a key issue in 2019 from gender, identity, race, religion to orientation & culture. Where do you see brands succeeding in creating a more inclusive environment? 

In the last 3-5 years representation & diversity has become a paramount issue of importance in the fashion industry. The world as a whole has become a lot more vocal about societal issues and it has come largely from marginalised groups & their allies who have found their voices and are now pushing to be heard and represented. Brands & publications are becoming a lot more aware that the masses do want to see a broad spectrum of diversity throughout all sectors of the fashion world. I think now more than ever people of colour are being given more opportunity than ever before and also to those who identify on all spectrums of the gender spectrum. However we still have a very long way to go.

3. What particular areas of our industry need improvement and reform to create a more inclusive environment for all identities? (

I think every aspect of the industry still has along way to go in creating an equal playing field. I think every creative team whether it be on a photo shoot, the production team on a runway show, a creative marketing/advertising team for example all need to have a diverse selection of employees. There needs to be a significant shift from the stock standard team of white, cis gendered creatives who have dominated the industry for a very long time.


4. Earlier this year you announced your identify as gender non-binary. Can you tell us a little about that journey and how the announcement has changed things for you?

In January 2018 I decided to come out (a term I hate because heterosexual cis-gendered humans dont need to come out as straight do they? Food for thought...) as non-binary or gender non-conforming.

For a long time I  grappled with what it meant to live and be labelled as a gay male which is how I initially was living my life and realised that even though my genetic make up is that of a male I have never really identified fully with being a cis male. I believe I am an amazing mix of both feminine, masculine & alien. I can be my own creation.

I came to the realisation that cis-normative society truly does tend to dictate how people should present and identify but I decided that I would no longer conform. Trans, gender non conforming and homosexual people own this experience and it is not for others to control how we live out our existence. Everyone will always voice their own opinions but we know how we feel inside and their opinion/beliefs  cannot invalidate our truth.

I have always been comfortable dressing in a more feminine or androgynous  way if you will, and now I am truly unapologetic. Fashion opens the door to express how you feel on the inside and I also communicate that through my creative work. The binary gender cannot describe me. I may be both, another, all, none or beyond and that is how I also feel about the fashion industry.

(5.  What does the future of fashion look like to you? What will we be wearing, how will we consume clothing and who will we be looking up to?

I cant give a definitive statement on what we will be wearing in the future because I dont think we should dictate or question how we will present in our exterior form. However I will say that I do believe that we will be Much more aware of how we consume and how much the fashion footprint plays an integral part on our global economy and our environmental future.

I tend to not follow trends or influencers so I think we will be looking upon ourselves to create a world where we are represented and create a legacy.

6. How do you see fashions relationship to gender changing in the future? (

I think it will be ever-evolving. If you study the history of fashion it is clear that gender stereotypes were not as rigid or enforced in decades and centuries past. The current climate we live in is still extremely policed by close-minded people who believe in archetypal protocols of outdated belief systems and that trickles down into many different communities and societies. It is up to the young people of the world to stand up and create a difference.

7. What do you believe is the most important thing people can do to progress the gender conversation to move towards a more equal society? (

F*** with the patriarchy.  Tear down the walls of bigoted beliefs and aggression to those who live their lives differently to the norm. Also to try and educate. Education is key.

8. Lastly, your instagram stories are fascinating, what inspires you to link all these pop culture references together to tell a story, is there a message behind them? 

It really just is an eclectic collection of all of my favourite things. I grew up as a musical theatre kid so my love for the golden age of musical movies is always a strong presence. Obviously I post a lot of my favourite runways from the 90s and early 2000s which in my opinion was the height of couture showmanship. shows ranging from Galliano for Dior, Mugler (when Manfred was at the helm), McQueen and Isaac Mizrahi. All whom have made a great impact on my personal style and creative work.

And dont forget my guilty pleasure, reality tv. Real Housewives forever =�

Ryan CotterillComment