It’s hard to believe that just a few years into the fashion industry, Jody Paulsen (right) has established himself as a household name in the South African fashion scene. Following a collaboration with founder of Adriaan Kuiters, Keith Henning (left), Paulsen joined the brand as one of its designers. In this interview he tells us more about his career in fashion.
Tell us where your career in fashion began?
I guess my fashion career began when I was studying art at UCT and joined Boss Models. During my Masters in Fine Art, I met Keith when he casted me in his first show. We have been working together ever since.
Where did you receive your training in fashion design?
I did not study fashion although I did quite a lot of research about fashion during my MFA. Everything I know comes from working in retail. I spent a year working in Keith’s store before he gave me the opportunity to design for the brand.
In your opinion, what is the best part of being a fashion designer?
I really love designing so it’s hard to choose a particular aspect of design that I like most. But I would say that one of the best parts of designing is seeing the clothes I design being worn by people that you do not know.
Which fashion trends are you currently obsessed with?
I really like how Alessandro Michele has changed Gucci since he has been given the role of Creative Director. I’ve even treated myself to a pair of his furry loafers!
During the course of your career, what is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
The more you do, the more you can do. It’s important not to overthink everything because nothing gets done without actually doing the work.
What keeps you motivated?
Seeing the completion of a task is very satisfying and keeps me motivated. I also feel extremely lucky to do what I love, so I am always reminding myself to push through and carry on when things get tough.
Are there any local designers you’d like to collaborate with? If so, who and why?
I would love to do a collaboration with Vans South Africa – even though they are not particularly local. I think that our aesthetics could merge quite nicely and I have a lot of nostalgia for the brand. I wouldn’t mind doing a children’s range for Woolworths – that would be a dream come true.
Which three South African’s would you like to have dinner with and why?
What advice would you give to young people hoping to pursue a career in fashion design?
Start somewhere. Whether it’s in retail, studying or interning, one thing leads to the next. There are no shortcuts. The more you do, the more you can do.
How do you measure success?
I measure success by knowing that I am able to live my life doing something that I stand for and believe in 100%. I feel extremely honoured and lucky being able to sustain myself as an artist/designer and that I have the freedom to grow and explore my ideas.
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