Toowoomba is not the most likely place to start a fashion career, but it’s not surprising given the dominant theme running through Geoffrey J. Finch’s life seems to be embracing the offbeat and breaking the mould. As the son of a farmer and a dressmaker, 25 year old Finch recognised early on that boys in country Queensland are definitely not brought up to be fashion designers and cites his childhood as one that has developed a great sense of determination. ‘In a design sense I’m so glad I grew up in Australia – it brings a unique irreverence, pragmatism and casual elegance to my work.’
Finch’s label Ant!podium, of which he is Creative Director, began it’s life in 2003 as a London based retail store, PR and wholesale agency for Australian and New Zealand fashion and has now evolved into a stand alone womenswear label with over 100 stockists in 11 countries…pretty good for a boy from the bush. Ant!podium’s first collection raised the eyebrows of British Vogue and his team decided to get serious about their leap into designing their own line for both an overseas audience as well as back home in Australia.
Aiming to crack the Australian market as an ex-pat has not been without its critics. Finch says it had been hard trying to get his buyers to understand what Ant!podium was aiming to achieve by being abroad, but the market has warmed to his deceptively simple aesthetic, obsessive attention to detail and a eye for quirk, particularly evident in product names such as ‘No Romance Without Finance’, ‘Frilled To Meet You’ and the latest collection ‘Beyond the Pleasuredome’. When asked about his unofficial status as an Australian fashion ambassador in London he responds, ‘We seem to have developed this reputation – we really just like to support friends who are doing great things’, not without it’s pitfalls though he goes on to say, ‘this can result in my flat being a half way house from time to time!’
Like most creatives, Finch draws inspiration from a wide variety of sources but his constant inspiration is his friends. ‘My friends are my biggest inspiration – they are always so thoroughly modern! I love creating clothes for them and their lifestyles whether they are in Melbourne, New York, London, Tokyo, Paris etc.’
And what of the future for Finch and Ant!podium? Already he is branching out into different realms such as the famous East London ‘No Romance’ club nights, The Ant!podium magazine and a few other as yet unmentionable collaborations on the boil. Personally, Finch would like to branch into menswear and accessories and put together a novelty underwear range, no doubt with all the cheekiness he can muster. In any case, the future is looking as bright as can be for this young Australian designer as he literally takes on the world.