The Boy From Oz

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Geoffrey J. Finch with Antipodium's capsule collection for Sportsgirl
Tucked away in an innocuous back-street in London’s east is ‘Anti Towers’, the business hub and workroom of local label Antipodium. It’s here the brand’s Creative Director, Geoffrey J. Finch, designs the successful young label, known for its subtle simplicity and quirky charm.

The workroom itself is sun soaked and buzzing on this particular autumn day, filled with the mix of charming Australians and Europeans that make up Antipodium’s team. Finch is quick to offer a fresh pastry on the arrival of his guests and is dressed casually in a grey jumper and white trousers, with trademark spectacles. He’s welcoming and chatty, in that amusing self-deprecating way that Aussies do so well – it’s easy to see that working for Antipodium would be a lot of fun.

But then, it seems that Finch has a lot to be happy about, regardless of the current doom and gloom of the economic climate. Antipodium is on a roll. Business is thriving, despite the recession that has seen bigger labels fold in the past few years. Having just added the prestigious Barneys of New York to his stockists list, a successful show at September’s London Fashion Week and a collaboration with massive Australian brand Sportsgirl, Finch is humbled and thrilled by Antipodium’s success so far. “I’m very proud of what I have achieved and my team has achieved with me,” he says. “It’s a very difficult environment at the moment and I think for an independent business to get as far as we have got is really quite remarkable. I am really proud of that and there’s lots more that I want to achieve, I think you have to count your blessings when you can.”

Antipodium's Spring/Summer 2012 collection from September's London Fashion Week


It’s hard to believe that, as a fashion label, Antipodium is just over five years old, with how much has been achieved in that brief amount of time. From what started as Finch creating a few basic pieces to fill a gap he saw in the store and PR showroom, that he and business partner Ashe Peacock had at the time, Antipodium grew from being a small part of the business, to being a fully-fledged label in its own right. That is thanks partly to the encouragement of fashion store Liberty and British Vogue. It’s now stocked in some of the world’s best fashion stores, has developed a cult following and has stylish celebrity fans including the likes of it-girl Alexa Chung (who has been wearing Antipodium since the beginning) and supermodel Claudia Schiffer.

Although he’s been dubbed the ‘accidental designer’ for the way his label came to fruition, there is nothing accidental about Finch’s innate creativity and desire to succeed in the fashion industry. Whilst cutting his teeth in retail, first in his hometown of Toowoomba, in Queensland’s dusty regional heartland, he was already dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. Then, like thousands of young Australians before him, he moved to the bustling metropolis of cool that is London, in search of new experiences and to follow his dreams.

While London has been his adopted hometown since 2004, Finch’s Australian upbringing has a definite influence over both his design aesthetic and the business side of Antipodium. From collaborating with Aboriginal artists, naming a collection after the infamous Aussie television series ‘Brides of Christ’ (naughty Catholic schoolgirl behaviour at its finest!) to being stocked in the upmarket David Jones department stores and showing at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, it’s clear he is determined to maintain a strong connection with his homeland. “I go out there about three or four times a year, but we actually just employed a sales and PR agent in Sydney, which I think will be a good move for us,” says Finch. “We have just been feeding information out from London, but we probably need to give the Australian media and the buyers more business. It’s very much about looking at the customer service and making sure that we are doing training clinics with all our sellers etc. It’s actually amazing how much manpower has to go into selling bloody clothes!”


More images from Antipodium's Spring/Summer 2012 collection


Meanwhile, Antipodium’s recent collaboration with Australian high street brand Sportsgirl has garnered the attention of the press and further cemented his successful year. Finch designed the nine piece capsule collection with festival wear in mind. It’s got a nineties influence with Antipodium’s signature quirky style, including a tiny version of Finch’s face, glasses and all, included in the print. “It was a really interesting experience to design for that consumer and to also manufacture to Sportsgirl’s standards and to achieve their targets,” he says. “It’s actually been really good for our business as a whole and it’s meant that even at our entry price points we have been able to be keener on those price points, which has opened the doors to working with Urban Outfitters in Europe.”

He’s currently preparing Pre-fall for 2012, an addition to his creative calendar which will see Finch design four collections a year from next year, including two full collections for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, plus Pre-fall and Resort. It’s clear a label is doing well when they’re adding to the production schedule in this way, and for Finch further recognition of his success came recently in the form of an invitation from Buckingham Palace, to an exclusive reception for accomplished Australian ex-pats in the UK.

So how did he feel about being invited to such a once in a lifetime event with the opportunity to meet the queen? “It was actually a real honour, it didn’t really sink in,” says Finch. “We had so much on getting ready for the show, then I was in Milan and Paris and Sydney and then flew back the morning of going to Buckingham Palace, and so it wasn’t until other people were talking about it, that I realised it was quite a big deal.” Close friend and fellow Australian, model Andrej Pejic, accompanied Finch to Buckingham Palace, where he did indeed get to meet the royal family, an experience he loved and feels incredibly fortunate to have been privy to.

Next up for Finch is the launch of Antipodium’s online store this month, before he begins designing his next collection. “I’m working on quite a bizarre collaboration for A/W 12” he says. “It’s a bit of dead stuff and we will see what happens with that. I think it will be quite interesting and it will push me quite a lot. 2012 will be an exciting year.“ It’s safe to say that the future looks bright for the boy from the bush, as he continues to bring his unique flair to the fashion world, from his own antipodean corner of London.


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