Auckland street style: Four influencers talk fashion futures

by Johanna Thornton / 17 May, 2017
Photography Guy Coombes

Four distinctly Auckland locations. Four Auckland individuals with their own takes on fashion and the future.   

Eden Vawdrey
Film and TV co-ordinator, model and designer

City Works Depot

Eden wears top, pants and shoes- all from H&M.

Eden Vawdrey describes her dress sense as “happy”. Happy is a good start, but it’s more the type of style that propels you two years into someone’s Instagram archives (@edenvawdrey for anyone who wants to fangirl): think wild curly hair tucked into a turban, gold costume jewellery draped over silk dresses, or high-waisted jeans and a slinky singlet. “What you see on my Instagram is a realistic look into my life,” says Vawdrey. “But only about 30 percent. I enjoy it for what it is, but I don’t take it too seriously.”

Samoan-Canadian Vawdrey works part-time as a model, but it’s not something that feels altogether natural to her. “It’s good to put yourself in situations that make you feel a bit vulnerable and challenged. But then” – she laughs – “I’ve always been a bit of a poser.”

Vawdrey’s day job is as a production co-ordinator in the film and television industry, which has seen her involved in reality TV like The Real Housewives of Auckland. Her latest role is working with charitable trust Connected Media, which aims to promote sustainability through media, in part by inspiring young people to make films. “When I’m not doing that I’m working on my new swimwear line, Edimo, which is a lot of fun. Or I’m writing. Writing is my vice.”

Where does your sense of style come from?
I come from a long line of very stylish individuals. Even my great-grandmother was super hip, getting around London on her Vespa with boy-cut hair, wearing a tube top and retro shades.

Have you always been interested in fashion?
I’ve always enjoyed dressing! Style over fashion, definitely. I used to be obsessed with the website hel-looks.com. I was inspired by the Scandinavian ability to break the rules and be individuals.

What are your hopes and dreams career-wise?
I love to connect with people to share a message. Whether that’s telling stories about people or the planet, I want to make content that resonates with people. Personally, I’m trying to expand my thinking of myself and life. And if I can contribute to that exchange in someone else’s life through this medium [storytelling] and be able call that ‘work’, well then that’s really awesome!

Madeleine Walker
Lifestyle and fashion blogger for 20-somethings

Quay Street

Madeleine wears knitwear, skirt and shoes- all from H&M.

Creating a blog with a built-in expiry date called ‘The Twenties Club’ might seem like pigeonholing yourself, but its creator Madeleine Walker is savvier than that. “I’m realistic about the fact that just because I might survive my 20s relatively unscathed doesn’t mean that my 30s are going to be a walk in the park – so I purchased the domain rights to ‘The Thirties Club’ about a year ago.” 

Walker conceived the idea for ‘The Twenties Club’, a lifestyle blog that covers everything from fashion to food and acts as a how-to manual for young women, while studying arts and commerce at the University of Otago.

Running her own business was always the plan, but it took a couple of years of “brainstorming, designing and writing” before Walker decided to launch the site two years ago. “My theory was that I only have one chance to launch this and I wanted to make sure it was perfect. I like the idea that if you work hard in silence then success can be your noise,” she says. It’s now a full-time job for Walker, and generates around 10,000 unique browsers per month. 

The premise of the blog is that it can be hard navigating life in your 20s – has the blog helped you figure it out?

Figuring it out isn’t the point. What’s more important to understand is that it’s impossible. It’s quite liberating to admit that you don’t know what you’re doing with your life or where you’re heading and just admit that you’re trying your best, even if your best isn’t always good enough. When you’re honest about your own journey, you consequently liberate others to do the same.

The content of the blog is quite varied. How do you decide what to feature?

It has a lot to do with being reactive. No one could have predicted just how much would happen last year in terms of global politics and the rise of modern-day feminism as a response to the high levels of hate, violence and negativity in the world, and that gave me a lot of inspiration. 2016 was a year in which there was always something to talk about. The other half of my content is designed to serve the needs of my followers and my own personal needs. 

 

Kwadwo Malcolm
Graphic designer, model and barman

Karangahape Road

Kwadwo wears jumper, jacket and pants -all from H&M.

“I don’t think I’m a good model,” says England-born, Ghana-raised, and now Grey Lynn local Kwadwo Malcolm. “It was just an experiment really. I wanted to see if I could do it.” That’s Malcolm’s ethos with everything in life: try it, do it, don’t just think about it. Since moving to New Zealand two years ago (with short stints in Australia and America on the way) from the UK, where he studied industrial design at Coventry University, Malcolm has done everything from freelance graphic design (his key focus for now), bar work at Karangahape Road restaurant Gemmayze St, and the aforementioned modelling and acting. “I’m juggling so many things because I want to be able to control my own life and not be stuck somewhere all day doing something I don’t want to do,” he says. “I want to make as many of my own decisions on the day, every day.” 

For a ‘bad’ model, you look pretty natural in front of the camera. How did you get into modelling?
I had a girlfriend and for ages I’d been joking to her about how I wanted to be a model. I don’t even know if I actually wanted to be one, I just like to get into something instead of thinking about it. I got put in touch with an agent from Milkshake Models and some photo shoots followed. Now I’m also with Ryan Talent.

What is your key focus work-wise?
At the moment, it’s graphic design. I want to start a business in New Zealand because it’s a good place for start-ups. There’s a growing trend of people trying to make shit happen here. I can’t go into too much detail with the business but it’s basically redefining the gifting experience for the current age and it flows from there.

Tell us about juggling your different projects – what drives you?
Everything I’m doing is a stepping stone to something else. With Gemmayze St, I’m helping them but I’m learning a lot. So that fits with my philosophy, because I want to learn. The freelance work is adding to my skills in design while giving me a lot of freedom – I can find my own clients. The modelling is because I wanted to be less nervous and shy. I knew it was something I wanted to conquer within myself, so I did it. Whatever I’m doing is a test for myself to see whether or not I can do it.

 

Aki Ang
Fashion blogger with a penchant for glamour

O'Connell Street

Aki wears dress, top and boots- all from H&M.

Scroll through the pages of Malaysia-born blogger Aki Ang’s one-year-old website ‘The Sleek Avenue’ and the first thing you notice is the fashion: there are top-to-toe Gucci outfits, Fendi purses and an array of elaborate designer sunglasses. Ang works full-time as a designer at advertising agency TBWA and contributes to ‘The Sleek Avenue’ in all the hours in between, but that doesn’t explain the killer wardrobe. “If you can’t afford to buy a house and you work too hard to go travelling, then invest in things that you love,” offers Ang. “For me, it’s those designer clothes.”

Ang began cultivating her enviable style in 2010 while working as an art director for The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping malls, which came with a generous clothing allowance. She bought her first pair of Louboutins and hasn’t looked back. “I’m lucky because that started the wardrobe and now I fill in the missing pieces.”

Ang’s instinctive ability to put an outlandish outfit together, which she displays to perfection on her street-style Instagram account
@thesleekavenue, has been noticed by the likes of Trelise Cooper, Andrea Biani, SKYCITY, and jewellery brand Silk & Steel, who task her with creating native content for social media or larger photo series for her site. “If I’m working on someone’s campaign I want to be more than just the face or the model; I come up with a concept for them. I try to create a really premium look that’s packaged well.”

What has been a highlight since starting ‘The Sleek Avenue’?
A big deal for me was getting my pictures re-grammed by Fendi. It’s good when big brands like that appreciate your work. A long time ago, I thought the perception of beauty was nice curves, tall and tanned with beautiful cheekbones. But for me, being appreciated for your work and your craft means more than being appreciated for beauty. If you tag me, credit me as the creative director, not the model because I am very proud to be the mind, more than the face.

Who takes your photos?
I do. I set up the camera on a tripod with a timer and yes, I look crazy. Lately, my boyfriend has been supervising because I keep complaining that there are strange people talking to me. You’d never know the hard work that goes into these shots. Especially if you’re the model, you have to look good, your hair has to be on fleek, your garment needs to sit right, you need to worry about the lighting and you need to look like you’re not sweating. It’s a lot of trial and error.

Instagram is a successful platform for you. What do you like about it?
If you ask questions there’s an instant response. As an art director, it’s good to hear feedback, especially on how I photograph things. It’s an assurance for me that I’m going in the right direction.

 

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