Who here read the Sunday Star Times article on Jaeha's debt in the weekend? I for one was really upset, annoyed and unimpressed by it. First off, let me state quite clearly that I don't condone not paying off your debts, and I don't think it's right to go AWOL when creditors start calling. But I don't think that's what this is really about. Here we have a young designer, Alex Kim, just starting out in business. But he's not just an ordinary young designer. He's the young designer that fashion journalists have named the number one breakout designer to have come from this country in a long time. He's the young designer who has been named in the top ten finalists for the prestigious worldwide Mango Fashion Awards. And, yes, he's a young designer who has accrued a debt of $13,000 to various people around the city.
$13,000. It doesn't sound like a lot of money does it? Because it's not. Especially when there are companies like the Australian Sass and Bide who owe $500,000 to one fabric wholesaler alone. I know for a fact that there are plenty of New Zealand designers who owe a hell of a lot more than $13,000 to various creditors.
So why does Alex Kim get the article written about him?
Because in New Zealand, in Auckland particularly and especially in this microcosm of a fashion industry we have here, as soon as somebody starts doing something a little bit exciting, a little bit original, or starts becoming a little bit successful, people feel the need to cut them down.
We see it time and time again. A prime example is the ridiculous debate sparked by the post I did on Monday, entitled The Kills - dying for Meadowlark Jewellery. A New Zealand jewellery designer sold some jewellery to The Kills while they were in New Zealand for their tour. Is this celebrated? Of course not! Suddenly people are up in arms:
"oh look their also wearing Deadly ponies & company of strangers.. 'The Kills heart free Jewellery...more like!"
"They were actually given some deadly ponies and company of strangers also, which are possibly in the mix and were worn readily... these are shots where a photo has been taken at soundcheck and they were given meadowlark.....possibly by the photographer?? the kills did not search out meadowlark as such and were given alot of gifts when they were here oh to be a rockstar..."
or my personal favourite:
"sorry but i hardly think the kills are 'dying' for meadowlark, i actually find their designs very copied.. that anchor jamie is wearing is the same as one that was made by WHITE TRASH CHARMS a few years back and sold at karen walker. the sword alison is wearing or wore on stage is so so so similar to the one karen walker did in earlier jewellery collections, maybe meadowlark shop at karen walker? i hate copying, its always noticed by those in the know."
Lovely right? When will people understand that if one New Zealander does well, it's good for all New Zealanders? And if we created a more nurturing and encouraging environment for our creatives – rather than chopping them back down to size as soon as they start being 'too big for their boots' – perhaps some of our most creative people wouldn't run from New Zealand as soon as they're able.
I ran into Alex last night at Cassette. He was upset, embarrassed and feeling awful. He said that he accepts that it's his fault, he should have paid the debt and he takes full responsibility for it. It was a mistake, and he's owned up to it.
When will we New Zealanders start realising that this whole tall poppy syndrome bullshit is a mistake? It makes me sick.