Dou­ble Click

Nicole Warne on picture-per­fect mo­ments as Gary Pep­per Girl

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

Nicole Warne—the power blog­ger, street style star, model, and so­cial me­dia ex­traor­di­naire, oth­er­wise known as Gary Pep­per Girl—should know first-hand how for­tunes can eas­ily change with an In­sta­gram post, let alone the dif­fer­ence a cou­ple of years can bring. Af­ter all, her tra­jec­tory to the top of fash­ion’s hi­er­ar­chy is of­ten de­scribed as noth­ing short of re­mark­able. Along­side the likes of Chiara Fer­ragni of The Blonde Salad and Aimee Song of Song of Style, the Aus­tralian beauty’s me­te­oric rise to fame in the dig­i­tal wave has also be­come the text­book ex­am­ple of how en­tre­pre­neur­ial blog­gers have be­come fash­ion’s new power play­ers.

The half-Ja­panese, half-Korean Warne’s unique sur­name comes from her adop­tive Aus­tralian par­ents who took her in when she was just 3 months old. “My fam­ily lives in Tas­ma­nia and there’s, like, so­lar power, a rain­wa­ter tank, and 18 chick­ens there,” she says fondly of the pil­lars in her life. “My par­ents had noth­ing, but ev­ery­thing. They are just the hap­pi­est peo­ple in the world and worked for them­selves.”

The hard­work­ing ethics of the older Warnes rubbed off on their pre­co­cious daugh­ter, who by age 8 was ex­press­ing her­self through clothes in ways her peers never would. “I re­mem­ber go­ing to this car­a­van park called Bus­sel­ton in West­ern Aus­tralia for hol­i­days and I al­ways couldn’t de­cide what I should wear,” Warne says. That meant mul­ti­ple out­fit changes at the ex­pense of miss­ing out on mini fish­ing ex­cur­sions to the lake with her cousins, for ex­am­ple. “At the end of it all, I’d step out in some hideous two-piece rain­bow out­fit!”

Through­out high school, Warne har­boured dreams of be­ing a fash­ion de­signer. And like many be­fore her, clothes were Warne’s ar­mour. “Ev­ery­one has a bit of a tough time in school. I didn’t go to a mul­ti­cul­tural high school. I was the odd one out, so I thought, if I’m go­ing to be bul­lied for the way I look, I might as well be as dif­fer­ent as I can be,” Warne adds mat­ter-of-factly. Fash­ion quickly be­came an es­cape. “One day, I found vin­tage and sim­ply fell in love. It al­lowed me to be unique.”

In 2009, while in­tern­ing at the Aus­tralian editions of Grazia and Harper’s BAZAAR, Warne re­alised that the climb to the top of fash­ion’s food chain would be a long process. “It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence, but I wanted things to move faster. And then, I had an epiphany. Why not try my own thing? If it doesn’t work out, I can al­ways go back and start from some­where again,” she says.

So she de­cided to ped­dle her, by then, size­able col­lec­tion of vin­tage clothes through an eBay store and blog named Gary Pep­per Vin­tage. Six months later, it be­came a reg­is­tered com­pany and Warne was sell­ing her care­fully cu­rated finds to women all over the world. The en­ter­pris­ing Warne quickly cap­i­talised on her soar­ing pop­u­lar­ity and shifted her fo­cus away from sell­ing clothes to build­ing the Gary Pep­per Girl per­sona. Brands such as Chanel, Valentino, and Chopard quickly took no­tice. In 2013, Warne bagged the hon­our of be­com­ing the first blog­ger in the world to be signed to IMG.

Since then, there’s been no stop­ping Warne’s as­cent to promi­nence. All the mile­stones in her life— from the time she made her front-row de­but at fash­ion week, to her pho­tog­ra­pher fi­ancé’s ro­man­tic pro­posal amid cherry blos­som trees in Tokyo—are made avail­able to the tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors to her web­site and more than 1.6 mil­lion fol­low­ers on her In­sta­gram ac­count.

“A lot of peo­ple said to me in the beginning, ‘If you want, just ask for help.’ But I didn’t want to call in favours,” Warne re­calls do­ing things her own way. “I re­alise now that there are peo­ple who’d go all out to guide you, bring­ing with them 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. Don’t be afraid to seek help.” To­day, Warne is backed by an in­ti­mate team of three whom she trusts whole­heart­edly to take her brand to greater heights.

Without a doubt, Warne is a ben­e­fi­ciary of the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion’s im­pact on fash­ion. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of the smart­phone in our daily lives has, in some ways, led to the crum­bling of fash­ion’s high and mighty walls. But Warne in­sists that fash­ion’s as­pi­ra­tional value never de­creased de­spite it be­ing more ac­ces­si­ble to the masses. And in her books, so­cial me­dia is a beat that’s get­ting big­ger and louder. The in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties that brands will use to har­ness the power of this ever-evolv­ing tool have Warne ex­cited about the fu­ture. “We live in times that are ex­per­i­men­tal and in­spir­ing; I don’t think peo­ple know what’s right or wrong for dig­i­tal. Ul­ti­mately, it’s about ex­press­ing your­self in the most creative ways,” Warne ob­serves.

At the end of the day, one of Warne’s main aims with her so­cial me­dia plat­forms is to cre­ate a safe and pos­i­tive haven for girls who look up to her. The Gary Pep­per Girl, she of­fers, will al­ways be some­one who finds beauty in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion. “It doesn’t have to be the way a cap­tion is writ­ten or the way a photo is edited,” she says. Whether she’s cap­ti­vat­ing the au­di­ence with her in­sight­ful prose or breath­tak­ing pho­tos, Warne is also learn­ing the im­por­tance of liv­ing in the present in­stead of al­ways seeking the next. Only then can she truly call it a picture-per­fect mo­ment.

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