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Pip Edwards – A Passion for Fashion

By Dan Hutton on October 30, 2015 in People

Photo: Georgie Gavaghan

Photo: Georgie Gavaghan

Where are you originally from?
I am from St Ives on the North Shore. I was born in Mona Vale Hospital and moved to the Eastern Suburbs when I was 18. I moved to Paddington. My parents followed suit at the same time and they live in Rose Bay, so we’ve been fully anchored in the east since I was 18, and now I’m 36.

Did you move over with your folks?
No, I moved in with my best friend into Paddington. Because I very rarely went home, and they got over the commute, they moved over too.

So you’ve spent half of your life in the east; How long have you lived in Bondi?
I’ve had a good 12 years in Bondi. I tried to get out of Bondi for a little while; I had two years off and I went back to Paddington. But oh my god, that beach; you just want to be able to walk to the beach.

What do you love about the Eastern Suburbs?
I think proximity of the beaches, to the city and the landscape. It’s pretty gorgeous. All of my friends and my work are in the one little hub.

You’re the design director at General Pants; where is head office?

General Pants HQ is in Alexandria.

Do you spend most of your time out there when you’re working?
I’m there every day. That’s actually the most commonly asked question: do I work every day? Yes, I work every day; I work weekends, I work nights, I work every bloody day. If you love what you do and you do what you love, it’s all part of the game.

What gets your goat about life in the Eastern Suburbs?
It can be too busy. You’ve got to always be ‘on’ in a certain way. If I can talk about Bondi, if you’re going walking down the street, the potential is you’re going to bump into people. Sometimes if you want to hide it, that can be hard.

Does Pip Edwards, fashion icon, get out and about in her trackies and ugg boots?
Absolutely. Well, maybe not ugg boots. Trackies, yesI do, and as the years go on I feel like this is my community so I can get away with it. Bondi is a pretty friendly place and you’ve got to love your little local haunts; it just keeps you real.

Speaking of local haunts, do you have any favourites?
Yeah, I’ve got a few. You’ve got to get your coffee from Sonoma. You’ve got to have a wine at The Shop and you’ve got to have dinner at Icebergs, in the fancy bit upstairs. It helps when Maurice (Terzini, the owner) is the godfather of your child. And a Bloody Mary at the Bucket List after going to the beach is a must. That’s like my favourite thing to do in summer.

If you had to live anywhere besides Bondi, where would it be?
I went to Bronte on the weekend. Bronte pool was so great. It was like what Bondi used to be, not as hectic and more family orientated. If I had to move, I could probably move that way. Otherwise I’d just move somewhere else in Bondi.

Would you ever leave Sydney?

You’re not one of these people who want to move to Byron to live the hippy lifestyle?
It crossed my mind, but it depends on what day you talk to me. I love Sydney though.When you travel and come back to Bondi, you relax when you come home.

You’ve got over 70,000 Instagram followers; what makes you so interesting to all these people?
I don’t know, you tell me. I think I’ve been around a long time. My Instagram really is organic, I’m not one of those paid Instagrammers. I don’t do those kinds of posts. I do things that I love and I work with brands that I love, and obviously I pepper in my lifestyle with my child, so it’s actually a platform to balance out the external judgment that I could have. I love Instagram for that reason. It is what it is. If you like it, great; if you don’t, f**k off.

How true to your life is your Instagram feed?
It’s pretty true. Sometimes I wish I could take photos of the spreadsheets and the desktop, and the running around. But at the same time, it’s about showing it in the best light, so obviously it is a bit skewed. If only I could post the tears, then we’d have a more balanced view. I try to balance it out with my child, so that people remember that there’s something a bit more there than just fashion. Sometimes I don’t like posting photos of him because I don’t want him to be so exposed to all that, but that’s his generation. That’s all they know now.

Do you find that social media is a chore or do you love it?
Sometimes it can be a chore. I just don’t like things to be forced, so trying to portray what I need to do in a very organic way with integrity is actually really hard, especially when you’re feeling off and when you’re having a shit day. You don’t really want to take a photo of yourself, but sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

Do you think the world was a better place pre Instagram (and social media in general)?
That’s a really good question. Sometimes I wish we had Instagram back in the day. When I was at Ksubi and Sass & Bide, there were some really awesome things there, but part of the illusion of that was that people didn’t know and it was more about hearsay, and that was creating the excitement. Now you know everything about everyone and when you see someone you can roll into a conversation when you don’t even know them. You know exactly where they’ve been; it’s too voyeuristic and there’s too much information. It also stops you from communicating, because I just look at my f**king phone all the time. It’s premeditated and so much of it is ‘authentic’ staged moments. That said, I’m so current with what’s going on because of it.

When did you first discover your love for fashion?
When I was about three, my mum says. I was having meltdowns and tantrums over what she was dressing me in. I’ve always just loved it. My mum was a very stylish woman. She grew up in the Middle East and she was always very well put together. Growing up, I always had to be quite well presented. She actually thinks I’ve gone downhill since then, and I’ve gone a bit shabby for her. To answer the question, it’s come from her.

Where in the Middle East is your mum from?
She was born in Bethlehem. She’s Arab.

How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
I was working at Price Waterhouse Coopers. I’ve got a commerce/law degree, but all of my friends worked in the fashion industry, and I was very close to the guys at Ksubi. They were my best friends and they just said, “Come and take the plunge”. I really wanted to work in fashion, so I just started with them. I started their PR department.

What were you doing at PWC?
Risk management and corporate restructuring. I did that for nearly three years.

Do you look back on that and go, “What the f**k was I doing?”?
No, I loved it. It was what I studied for and I quite enjoyed it. I ticked that box mainly for my parents, but I did it. I left and it was really funny, because a few years later when I was well and truly into Ksubi, they kind of asked me to come back as an industry specialist. I could have gone back, but I like to make things and I like to leave a bit of a legacy, and I felt the corporate world was a little too ‘middle man’ for me.

Are there any particular highlights from the Ksubi years?
The whole thing was amazing. It was a like a cult, and it was a team of friends coming together just to do what they believed in, regardless.

How surprised was everyone that it actually took off?
Having lived through those glory days, you didn’t even think about it. We were just going ahead, going forth doing what we wanted. It was pretty amazing, but at the end of the day it’s a business so you need to sell product… the perils of fashion.

Did you have a fall back plan if the fashion thing didn’t work out?
There was never a fall back. It was always fashion for me. There was a bit of music; I’m a trained musician in piano. I just think that those creative elements were always going to be it for me.

Do you still tickle the ivories?
No, my piano’s at my parent’s place. I did it hardcore growing up because I had to, but music’s always around. It’s always in my ears and it’s always inspiring.

Are you teaching your young man any instruments?
I had a little go. He’s had a little tinkle. He’s actually got perfect pitch, though. He’s the most amazing singer, but he’s just at that age where he’s so sports orientated. He’s not prepared to give that up, but he sings all the time. When we’re in the car and we’re belting out songs, he tells me to shut up. He likes all my music too, thank god.

Do you have good musical taste?
I think I do. I’m a jukebox and I love all kinds of music. I was trained classically, so my favourite era was the romantic period. I’m very emotional and then what comes from that is electronic music, so that’s the progression. I’m big into my electronic and French music… everything’s French.

Besides the obvious transitions in trends, what has changed most significantly in the fashion industry since your career began?
Social media. It’s really impacted not just trends, but access and exposure. Basically you used to wait for trends to hit, now they’re all emerging. It’s really affected what you see and where you get your inspiration.

Right now, who is Australia’s hottest designer?
Let’s talk about Ellery. She just shut down Paris. It was amazing. She’s got an amazing eye, she’s an amazing designer, an amazing stylist, and her shows are impeccable. She just showed at Paris and I basically want to wear the whole range. She’s hot and she’s really nice.

Do you have a career highlight thus far?
I think coming to General Pants and taking the knowledge from working at Ksubi and then Sass & Bide, two major iconic brands that I’ve been privileged enough to have insight into, and putting that knowledge into a retail sense where you can impact the mass market, is possibly the biggest highlight. You’re speaking to a lot of people, and that’s exciting.

Did people in the industry think you were ‘selling out’ a bit when you went to General Pants and became ‘mainstream’?
There might have been a flutter of that, but the difference is that the General Pants aesthetic is my aesthetic. It’s not a far stretch. I’m casual, I love my denim, and I’m based in denim. It’s the vibe of it and to be honest, it’s not selling out. It’s what we wear every day. You tell me who doesn’t shop at General Pants. General Pants was my first retail job at Pitt Street Mall. I had such a great time working there. It was amazing to go full circle and come back and work in the other side of the business. I’ve earnt my stripes.

Is there some sort of end goal or aspiration that drives you on a day to day basis?
The people, the team and the energy is what drives me at work. I love it. My end goal is just to make great things that people love to wear.

What’s it like when you see people in your clothes?
It’s amazing. I think that even if you can impact one person, it’s great, because clothes are an interesting thing. They set your demographic and they set your lifestyle. They’re your second skin and they can be emotional. You can hide behind them and you can amplify them, so I think that anyone who takes an interest in something or relates to an item is awesome.

What’s your definition of success?
Happiness. Just to be happy with where you’re at. We always want more and there’s no limit to success, so it’s how you view yourself, I think.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Really getting to understand your customer, I think, and really understanding the lifestyle. That’s where General Pants does things well. It’s not just clothes on a rack. You’re really identifying your customer, you’re working out what they want to do and then you provide them with the tools to do that.

Is it hard work, or is it all photo shoots and cocktail parties?
You can only showcase so much on Instagram. Retail is a competitive market so we’re always thinking, we’re always moving and we’re always adapting. Of course a photo shoot here and there is okay, but it’s not what I do every day.

What do you get up to when you’re not working?
The beach, soft sand, beach, swim, beach, shop and… beach.

Are you a shopaholic?
Not really, but I used to be. I like to see what’s going on out there. I’ve toned down my shopping as other responsibilities have kicked in.

Speaking of other responsibilities, being a single mum, is it hard to achieve work/life/family balance?
Yeah, it’s super hard. The only way to do it is with my family. My mum and dad are just incredible. Mum basically does the school drop off and pick up, because I have to work. I wouldn’t be half the person I am without them.

Do you think your son, Justice, will follow you down the fashion career path?
He’s got a strong opinion, that’s for sure. He tells me what to wear and he tells himself what to wear, but he’s quite the mathematician. He’s really good with numbers. I feel like I could have this ‘Ab Fab’ moment and he will turn into Saffy and become a full on accountant. He could go anti fashion and say, “Mum, turn that music down”!

Do you have any big personal projects in the pipeline at the moment?
There are always projects brewing. A big love of mine is fitness. I’m big on fitness and I love soft sand running. I call it my moving meditation; it’s my time out. Fitness is a big part of what I do. I think the whole active wear trend is really at the core of me, and obviously that’s what’s going on out there. So something to do with that I guess. All I can say at this stage is watch this space.

Besides your piano playing, do you have any hidden talents that people probably don’t know about you?
I play a bit of tennis, but I was more the musician at school. I couldn’t really play much sport because of my fingers.

Were you the nerd or the cool kid back in your school days?
I was nerdy. I did quite okay in the HSC, actually.

Do you have any advice for youngsters looking to make it in the fashion world?
I think you just have to stick to your guns and follow your dream, and I think you’ve got to put the work in. You’ve got to know where you’re going and get yourself out there and meet people; relationships are key. Personality is key too, and then backing that up with some kind of substance and talent, then you’ve got it.

Do you support any charities?
Yes. White Ribbon is a big one. I’m actually a bit of a feminist. I’m all power to the women, so what’s been going in terms of domestic violence in our country has just been horrific. I think it’s awesome that Turnbull has made a bit of a statement about it.I’m big on White Ribbon and we’re about to go into a big campaign with it through General Pants. All of our staff will be wearing T shirts that say ‘No Excuse for Abuse’, and we will be selling wristbands and ribbons in all of our stores.

In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Pip Edwards?
What does the future hold? Who knows? I think definitely all things PE, so all things to do with Pip Edwards. More family is definitely on the cards too. I’d love a few more kids. Justice is nine and I know how much he loves other kids. I’m an only child and I would love for him not to be an only child, not that it’s bad or good, but I know that it would be nice for him to have another friend.

And career wise?
I love where I am right now. I can’t see a change. You know when you’re just at the right place at the right time; I’m here. I really like where I am, and I’ve not been able to say that for a long time.