Trendsetter Interview #2: Kass Scardino, owner/designer at Finn Denim

A month or so back I caught up with Kass Scardino, an uber cool girl who is the owner/designer of Finn Denim – famous for their reversible denim jeans. I ran a youth influencer group and she had some really interesting perspectives on youth culture and Aussie fasion in particular. He’s a bit on Kass and her label Finn.

Tell us about finn and what your vision for the label is?

 Finn at the moment is reversible jeans for men and women. That’s right you take your jeans off turn them inside out and hey presto

Reversible jeans from Finn Denim

Reversible jeans from Finn Denim

 another pair of jeans, amazing huh! I am however completing my second season consisting of mens and womens fashion, accessories and hats. I have put on exhibitions that have held bands from My Sydney Riot and other artists such as Elvis Di Fazio, Thom Kerr and Danny Clayton (from channel V) What makes finn stand out you say? well it’s a fashion label looking to create something outside of the box through its use of transformation in its designs and concepts. Also collaborating with unknown designers to inject new creative ideas that have not been formed through a trend but more from being inspired by seeing what you can do from pushing limitations. I see finn growing into fields such as video, photography, arts and anything else that it can do for fun. What do you see as the main trends in Australian fashion right now? Black is still oh so black, people love being so cool in their sleek black attire. The rock goddess with the studs, tattoos and the blunt bangs. It’s hip to be a square, collecting formulated vintage and new pieces to create a unique super nerd with nice black frames, ahhhhh…Super size me in t’s, dresses and anything that just looks 5 sizes too big, bring back the Mu mu’s.

Who do you think are the main influencers over what youth (16-25yr olds) are wearing?

TV hmmmmm… No not always. I think its our rebellious youths saturating the magazines, advertising, music (video) scene and television is what the kids are relating to the most. So many of our young role models are such bad arse trendoids. You have the Olsen Twins, MTV host Ruby in the press, Miranda Kerr, but then there are the old lime lights Dita Von Tease, Posh etc the list goes on.

Which subcultures are popular at the moment in terms of their clothing?

 I really couldn’t give you a straight answer. I really dont like to pay too much attention to whats going on around me because I find it blocks my own feelings about clothes and what they mean to me. I really just accept that there is a jumble of everything out there and it’s really the person that makes the clothes, not vice versa.

Which brands do you think are ahead of the curve when it comes to appealing to youth?

These are just observations that I have made. American Apparel with their naughty advertising always gets me. Mooks with Cup rocking campaigns steared towards street culture. Love! Romance Was Born with there fearless approaches to design and styling.

 Describe Australian youth culture in a word?

EXISTENTIAL  – I actually had this printed on the back of my year 12 sports jacket. At least my English teacher though it was funny. But in reality it’s what I think it’s all about ‘dealing with existence’ and what experiences make you out to be. Australia may be a country that’s so far away from the world, and dont get me wrong I think there is a terrible tall poppy syndrome that needs weeding out, but apart from that, it really has the substance for you to give it your own.

Do you think Australian youth are part of a global youth culture , or do they stand apart in terms of the clothes/brands they sport?

I’m not sure about this one but I know there is soooooooo many talented Australian designers out there. I think if they were given more serious attention then perhaps we could compete with the designers and the trends of the UK, Europe, America, Japan etc. We just dont get much consideration because we’re so far away from everyone, and this just doesn’t help when there isn’t masses of people interacting and comparing what’s out there. There are still some seriously fashionable kids out there showing their own edge, but I think there is a majority of people opting for comfort, and well there not very fashion fabulous.

You see a lot of teens/20 something wearing Bonds singlets with Prada sunnies….why do kids ‘mix – mash’ fashion? What’s behind it?

Everything is a mix mash of fashion. Perhaps it’s because they like the psychology behind the branding, or perhaps they just couldn’t think of anything better to wear on a hot summer day. There is no right and wrong answer, if its style that you pull off then that says everything.

Youth Influencer Interview – Dion Appel CEO of Lifelounge Group

This is probably the most insightful interview I’ve been able to get from an absolute influencer in youth culture in Australia. Dion Appel lives and breathes youth culture. He has to. He’s the CEO, Co-founder of  Lifelounge Group

Dion Appel, CEO

Dion Appel, CEO

, Australia’s leading digital resource on youth culture – fashion, music, name it, they cover it. He also runs Lifelounge Urban Market Research (UMR), Australia’s biggest youth market research panel. I was lucky enough to get some perspective on what brands need to do to get ‘cultural infusion’ ( new buzz word 🙂

Tells us a little about why you set up Lifelounge Group  and its role for Aussie youth?

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Having said that James Diver and I were playing poker at a casino in Las Vegas.

The idea was to combine our passions and expertise to create a unique business proposition for brands: offer an understanding of and access to the youth market in a credible and relevant way. My background was in business; managing and marketing action sports athletes. James and his business partner Luke Lucas were professional athletes and magazine publishers. Together we identified a market opportunity to apply our creative and commercial expertise and contacts to position brands relevantly amongst the youth, young adult and lifestyle markets.

What are the 3 biggest trends that you think are influencing Aussie youth at the moment?‘Boycotting the bogan’ – events once only popular amongst those in the know have now reached the mainstream. This may be lining the back pockets of event producers but we have reached saturation point. The mainstream doesn’t hold the same core values to those who made events important destinations in the first instance. 


There is a move towards going underground, creating unique party experiences that leverage the values festivals were once built on.

‘Flesh messaging’ – all forms of digital communications are no longer new, they are mass. There is a lack of control over how and who we communicate with. Technology should be treated as an enabler, it shouldn’t dictate how communication is conducted.

There is a growing preference for face-to-face communications i.e. meaningful contact and conversation.

‘Extreme transport’ – Cycling is now a massive trend in urban cities within Australia. It has already splintered into sub-cultures with the ‘discovery’ of fixies for the road, not the track. This trend is expected to continue with the introduction of government funding for new bike tracks and communal bike sharing initiatives. Not to forget it’s good for the image, cheap to do and good for the environment win-win-win. 

In a world where labels offer little exclusivity, bikes are the new form of branding.

 How would you describe Australian youth culture in a word? Explain?CONSIDERED – Australian youth are deliberate and calculated. Don’t underestimate them.


They’re very careful about how they perceive themselves and how they want others to perceive them. It’s all part of a need and desire to express themselves and ultimately define their identity. During the defining years (18-24) they are more open for trial and new experiences and tend to be less loyal. Once they have defined their identity (25-29) they are more likely to become loyal and flaunt independence. 

Is there such a thing as ‘global youth’?Absolutely, we don’t log onto the Australia Wide Web we log onto the World Wide Web. Access to technology and travel have made borders disappear, seas seem like puddles and the ability to learn new languages a worthy inclusion on the CV.


Are there any youth subcultures which are really popular or emerging in 09?For some time we have been tracking subcultures that emerge from core lifestyle interests I.e. Music, fashion, entertainment and sport however, more recently we’re tracking subcultures that relate to emerging trends such as fixies within cycling within sport.


What do brands need to know about young Aussies?Brands spend considerable resources defining themselves, their essence, personality and image in order to connect more relevantly with desired audiences. We can draw a number of similarities in the way young adults seek to establish and define themselves.


Brands need to be real, honest and brave enough to share experiences through conversations with young adults. With a solid foundation and relationship based on shared values the sky’s the limit. Challenge the status quo and use the power media channels to connect relevantly. 

 Alot of brands these days do ‘co-creation’ – getting young people to co-create their ads/events/products? What’s your POV on this?
Young adults are dubbed the creative class because they are digital natives however, in reality they like to have everything done for them.  Having said that if brands provide the tools for creativity then young adults are more likely to respond. There are a number of case studies that support co-creation from government agencies like the Transport Accident Commission’ Make a Film Make A Difference initiative to Red Bull’s Art of the Can competition. 

Which brands do you think ‘get’ youth marketing and why? Explain

Virgin – Has a strong reputation for trading on a unique attitude with personality. Congratulations Richard Branson on finding a way to commercialise your lifestyle and make your mark on everything the brand does. Virgin’s entrepreneurial approach to business has enabled the brand to cross into varying industries and maintain a consistent tone.  

 American Apparel – Because they keep their message clear and simple. They don’t broadcast but are smart about the way they advertise enabling the market to discover and make their own minds up about the brand. My first encounter was in New York when the shop assistant told me how good my family jewels would look in a particular style of underwear; I looked up and her necklace spelt the word ‘SLUT’ 

 Lucas Paw Paw Lip Balm – This product oozes quality and makes no mistake about it. The product has effectively achieved cultural infusion particularly with females through word of mouth and very little traditional advertising.

Youth Influencer Interview #3: Didier the Industrie Ambassador




Didier Cohen the face of Industrie and Miranda hot right now

Didier Cohen the face of Industrie and Miranda hot right now

Next up in my interview series, a change of pace. Got in touch with the super cool Didier Cohen, who has become a bit of a hearthrob in Australia as the face of Industrie clothing.  He was recently in a campaign with Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr. He’s not only a cool dude, but like the guys at Post Modern Ink is a posterboy for how body art is becoming super aspirational. Years ago, you’d never see a model with loads of ink, now it’s his calling card. Here’s his take on Sydney youth culture vs LA youth culture and some tips on what will be the next big fashion brand.

Tell us how you got to be the face of Industrie?

Ahhh well they came to the states on a casting trip to find a model for the new campaign. When they came to LA, they asked to see me at Wilhelmina and we just clicked. Was supposed to be a one off job and now its turned into something really fantastic..


What’s your life mantra?

 Ha thats an easy one. Always keep going no matter what. Whatever it is in live you gotta just keep striving and working hard and i promise you, nothing and no one can stop you…


The BEST and WORST thing about doing what you do?

 Ahh the best thing about what I do was definitely coming to Sydney. I mean if it wasn’t for my career i would have never came over here and met all the wonderful people who I consider family now.. Sydney is my second home. The WORST thing about what I do has to be the stereotyping. I mean people just think they know the type of person I am because they see me in advertisements and they think all models are full of themselves,air heads, ect. Im not going to lie, a lot of them  are, but to base an over all opinion strictly on stereotypes is not right.. 


You sport some serious ink, what does body art mean to you?

To me, my body art is a symbol of my life. My biggest pet peeves are people who just get tattoo’s to look cool and there is no meaning to them at all. It should have a deep meaning, something that will be a positive, constant reminder to you through you whole life..


How is Australian youth culture different to what you’ve experienced travelling overseas?

Well I was born and raised in LA, so based on that, they are very different to me. The reason i’m so attracted to to Sydney culture is that its so much more genuine and real. LA cant get pretty plastic and fake. People in Sydney have such a better idea of what life is all about and just are happy and positive. LA is a lot of bullshit filled with people who are not in touch with real values and reality. Dont get me wrong I LOVE LA and you can find genuine people, but the overall youth culture of the place is a bit out there…


How would you describe Australian youth culture in a word? 

 One word? Hmmmm, Refreshing… Everytime i get off that Qantas flight and meet up with my mates its soo refreshing to me. My mates remind me about real values and what matters most in life..


What styles/designers do you think are going to be big for the rest of 09?

 Well in Sydney, Industrie is killing it right now. Haha Im not just saying that because I’m their ambassador. They are really stepping their game up to put some real stylish pieces out. Also there’s these two cats out of Bondi  i met through my boy Tenzin. Their line Pete Versus Toby is banana’s. Love their clothes and cant wait to come back so they can get me looking right. They have this crazy red leather hooded jacket, ahhh man, nuts…


Trendsetter Interview #1: Stephen Farrelly, Editor, PostModern Ink magazine

The first in a series of ‘Trendsetter Interviews’ with leading arbiters of cool in Australian culture. I caught up with one of the coolest cats in Sydney –  Stephen Farrelly, Editor of new tattoo culture lifestyle magazine ‘Post Modern Ink‘.  He’s supremely savvy when it comes to youth culture in Australia and  so I through a few q’s at him and here’s what he had to say. Thanks Stephen.

Stephen Farrelly, Editor of Post Modern Ink

Stephen Farrelly, Editor of Post Modern Ink

New tattoo lifestyle mag, Post Modern Ink, Issue 1 featuring Kat Von D

New tattoo lifestyle mag, Post Modern Ink, Issue 1 featuring Kat Von D



What’s your main goal with Post Modern Ink?

We have an ethos of coverage that involves: Tattoos, Art, Lifestyle and Culture. To the naked eye, these things could be perceived as part of the same entity (especially when talking about tattoos).However, the world of tattoos really is just the root of a tree with numerous branches. Our goal then is to climb the tree, and remind each of the branches where they come from, and express what the other branches are doing.


We ultimately want to be a platform informing, educating and entertaining the all-encompassing culture of tattoos. It’s a big task, because the higher you climb the aforementioned tree, the more diverse the various offshoot branches become. But there really is nothing else like this out there, so it’s equally our goal to maintain this early level of exposure and authority. If you want to know about underground, art culture, we want you to come to us first.

 Who does Post Modern Ink appeal to?

We’re aiming at a majority youth market (but we’ve managed to nab a lot of older people as well). Basically it’s for people with tattoos, people considering tattoos, people aspiring to get tattoos (ie younger than 18) and people just interested in tattoos as an art form. But as we grow as a brand, we want to be known more as a youth/underground art magazine with “our finger on the pulse”, to use a buzz phrase.

Do young people today get tattoos for ‘collectivism/belonging to a group’ or ‘individualism’?

I think it’s a little of both. But ultimately, tattoos have hit the mainstream. You see young people working in retail with tattoos, young professionals working in the corporate world with tattoos and so on. I think it was only a matter of time before this happened. From the advent of the punk rock explosion in 1994 with the likes of Green Day and the Offspring, this underground world of individualism was exactly what the mainstream world was looking for – something unique, new and marketable.

Now you see bands like Good Charlotte, Avenged Sevenfold, AFI and so on… selling out arenas everywhere, and the youth are mimicking this because these are the new youth heroes. Equally, the popularity of tattoo celebrities like Kat Von D, encourage young people to be individual and mark themselves. I think the interest and enthusiasm is sound, but I really want to use our magazine as a platform for educating the easily influenced into understanding the finality of tattoos in hope they might wait and make the decision when they’re a bit older.

What’s the psychology behind getting bodyart?

It’s fashion. Plain and simple. At least the mainstream element of it is. At the moment, a tattoo is no different to wearing your favourite band t-shirt, or having your hair a certain way, which makes the above desire from us even more poignant.

How does body art help young people express themselves?

 It helps them feel like they belong to the modern day. It helps them feel they’re ahead of the curve, even though the curve itself – at the moment – is a stationary form of fashion. I don’t think tattoos are going to go away, but I do hope the ‘fashion’ push of the art is dumbed a little.

Which celebrities do you find are most influential to young Australians in terms of body art?

 I mentioned bands and Kat Von D, but there are also sports stars such as David Beckham, or a lot of our own rugby/afl players who sport ink.

Do you think we’re seeing a ‘creative renaissance’ in Australia at the moment, with the growth in body art?

 Absolutely. And it’s not just tattoos, it’s piercing, body mods (scarring, branding, etc), hair style, fashion and more. The explosion might be quite big (and slightly scary), but it’s great to see Australia embracing outlandish individualism (or ideas of individualism) so completely.

How would you describe youth culture in Australia today? 

 That’s a pretty broad question with an equally broad answer.  I would describe youth today as ‘savvy and in control’. Youth take ownership of their own image today, with spaces like Facebook and MySpace offering them their own “movie poster” so to speak. You can just check someone’s MySpace or Facebook and you have an immediate idea about them. It’s also reflective of how deeply ingrained advertising has become in our lives. Years ago, advertising yourself like this would have been seen as self-indulgent but now it’s commonplace. And it’s instant. Youth today know what they want, and they want to share their desires with immediacy to their peers.

Are we seeing gaming and body art come together at all? Inspiring each other if you will?

 To a degree. It’s cool to like videogames now. Even clothing stores like JayJay’s sell Mario t-shirts that look like they were printed in the 80s. It’s cool to be kitsch and old-school (ironically), so many people get videogame tattoos. It’s no different to people generations ago branding themselves with images of Bettie Page – she represented something then, and now, kids and young adults have grown up with videogames; different heroes. So yeah, the cultures do converge, though not as completely yet as I expect them to in say, the next 10 years.