Perth native Jackson Blythe (@jacko.blythe) has always leaned towards pushing the boundaries of what is comfortable. Since developing a strong fashion following in 2018, Jackson seems to always be throwing together an outrageous fit that somehow works. To frame it appropriately, he is among the new breed of fashion voices that are redefining how we think of streetwear. He is a young, creative mind that understands the importance of humility, but also acknowledges the importance of keeping an eye out for what is coming next – especially in a fashion environment that is changing so rapidly.
Chatting with PUSHAS in late-2018, Jackson is candid about his experience living in Perth, Australia, and how that has influenced his tastes in streetwear. He also shared with us the sneakers he was rocking at the time of the interview, and what it is like being a fashion influencer in Australia.
CK: What’s your typical day like?
JB: It differs every day, but something like today, I wake up at 8am and the first thing I do is grab a coffee – like I can’t do anything without a coffee. Pretty much after that, I’ll probably do a bit of study at home and then I’ve got classes all day. After class, depending on what time I finish, I’ll try to take some photos for Instagram or spend time on other projects I’m working on. I’m always trying to keep busy.
CK: It’s amazing you’re able to balance all of these things, how did you first get into social media?
JB: Honestly, a lot of the credit goes to my girlfriend who is an influencer (@alvssa_). When I first met her, she had around 15k followers. I’ve always been into fashion but it wasn’t until that point – as she was really passionate and enjoying it a lot – that I chose to put a lot of time into as I really enjoyed doing that with her, and also seeing her grow as an influencer as well. I didn’t expect to become an influencer; it just grew organically from that and doing something with my girlfriend.
CK: How has that affected your personal life?
JB: I think in many ways it can negatively affect you, because if you get caught up in it, you can start to value other people more than what you, yourself, believe is right. And while I’m nowhere near that point [of exposure], still being a small influencer, a lot more people do recognize me than before.
CK: A lot of your fits appear to have a strong skate vibe to them, has the skate scene been an influence at all?
JB: With skating, being able to go out there and get a bit of fitness, it definitely keeps [my] mind creative. When I’m skating, I’ll do new tricks and that kind of helps me creatively – it helps clear my mind up.
But fashion wise, there are elements of what I wear which relate a lot back to skating culture, not so much for shoes as I’m all about that dad shoe vibe, but I like baggy pants and the over-sized tees from skating culture and then that’s kind of like my style. So in that way, skating culture has influenced me a bit but I like to keep creative and not be put into a box.
CK: What do you think the influx of fashion through social media and how that has influenced the way people view fashion?
JB: It’s really good for the brands. Before social media influencers became a thing, brands had to spend a lot to produce ads – hundreds and thousands worth of dollars – whereas now, you can send a product to an influencer and pay them a fixed amount which is significantly less than what you would in traditional ways.
Influencers have all the equipment, the target audience – you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong target audience. [Influencers] already have a tailored audience who want to buy your things, and they’ve got a specific target audience who already like the product. This is so long as you are picking the right influencer of course. The influencers do all the work, so it benefits brands a lot.
CK: How do you view the new opportunities that social media has given to influencers?
JB: The amount of possibilities and avenues I can go off into, and continue to branch off as I grow on social media is amazing. I can go into creating my own brand as I already have that base of people who like my style; even things like this interview, putting my perspective on the streetwear scene is something I didn’t expect would happen. But at the end of the day, I’m still like everyone else – that’s the thing. People think influencers are more special but we’re just like everyone else.
CK: While we’re on the topic of influencers, how did you react when a big influencer like Magnus Ronning (@magnus) gave you a shout out in his YouTube videos?
JB: That’s actually an interesting story because I was holidaying down south and I was with a bunch of my mates outside chilling and then I went on Instagram, and then one of my mates from the US sent me a message saying “Bro you’re in Magnus’ video’, have you seen it yet?” and also a screenshot where it looked like he photoshopped my picture into Magnus’ video and I thought my mate from the US was trying to convince me that Magnus had put me in a video so I didn’t believe it but then my Instagram blew and all of a sudden I gained thousands of followers and it was unreal – I was freaking out.
It’s really cool how influencers are starting to become an almost mainstream celebrity. I was watching Will Smith on YouTube the other day and he was just hanging out with Liza Koshey and I was like, “wow, traditional famous people are hanging out with these people made famous from the internet” – it’s so crazy, you don’t realise how influence you from doing stuff on the internet.
CK: Going in a different track now, what are your thoughts on the current state of streetwear in Australia?
JB: Honestly, there’s a huge difference [compared to other countries]. Well, maybe not Australia in general, but especially in Perth. Usually as an influencer you have to step outside your comfort zone with your fashion to create interest, that’s how you set yourself apart as you’re showing something new to people.
In Perth, because people don’t like to step out of the box here, you kind of get judged. I’ve taken a lot of photos now so I don’t care but I would get heckled almost every time before I had a following. Whereas if you go somewhere like the UK – even in places like Melbourne and Sydney – people are used to the idea of following your dreams, and everyone’s busy doing their own thing that no one cares and aren’t judgmental. Whereas because Perth is small, they always have to have an input on what others are doing because everyone knows everyone. While it doesn’t affect me, it definitely does affect other people.
99 percent of people really support what we’re doing though, and especially people that are really interested in streetwear. It’s nice to hear people come up to me saying ‘you are doing something for Perth’.
CK: So what’s next for you?
JB: Well at the moment, I’m just finish my [university] degree, I mean instead of getting a job in [laboratory medicine], the field which I’m studying in, I’m going to put aside a bit of time into focusing on developing a couple things I’ve been working on: looking at building a clothing and skateboard brand with my brother, as well as a documentary with my friend who’s a videographer which I have no idea when it will finish as we’ve only just started on that.
CK: What are your favourite sneakers at the moment?
JB: Probably the ones I’m wearing right now, the Puma Thunders. They’ve got that technical sole that is quite on trend at the moment. They’re also on the lower price range which I like as it means people are able to look them up and be like “actually, I can get that”. I can wear them with a wider pant as it looks nice paired with them. Other than that, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Waverunner 700s, which I have, other than that, my tastes are constantly changing and what I find interesting is always changing. But right now, coming into summer, the Puma Thunders are my go-to’s.
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By Daniel PUSHAS