Christine St Clair, buyer and Asia-Pacific representative, Comme des Garçons

The design is one part of a big picture with Comme des Garçons. That’s what I love about this brand – they are constantly challenging.

A career in the fashion industry is something most avid shoppers would dream of, but most of us wouldn’t know the first thing about how to go about breaking into the industry. Christine St Clair has worked in the fashion business for years, globetrotting and seeing the latest trends evolve. Eight years ago Christine joined iconic fashion house Comme des Garçons and was tasked with opening Pocket stores around the country. Christine is responsible for the buying duties for the Comme des Garçons Pocket store at GOMA, ensuring the coolest items are regularly stocked. We heard that some new gear was on its way to GOMA for the winter season, so we caught up with Christine to talk Comme des Garçons and her career to date.

First of all, when did you develop your love for fashion and style?
I started very young – in high school. I chose ‘needlecraft’ as an elective and it continued from there.

What was the impetus for pursuing a role in the industry for a career?
I was lucky I knew from day one I wanted to study fashion design. I was too impatient to do a three-year university degree, so opted for an eighteen month tech course. I wanted to study and quickly start working.

What was it about the Comme des Garçons brand that drew you to them eight years ago?
The design is one part of a big picture with Comme des Garçons. That’s what I love about this brand – they are constantly challenging.

How did the decision to set up at GOMA come about? What is it about the gallery that fits well with the Comme des Garçons ethos?
I wanted to open a Pocket in the best public art gallery in Australia – GOMA! I wanted the Pocket space to involve the design of the space, and the Gallery’s atmosphere. I have been fortunate to travel overseas and visit some amazing galleries and GOMA is world class.

We heard whispers of some new stock coming to the GOMA store soon. What can we expect to see arriving in the near future?
Well, I can’t give away too many secrets, but I suggest to follow our Instagram – our feed incorporates the latest Brisbane news!

What do you think is the key element that makes Comme des Garçons resonate amongst fashion consumers?
Our ability to remain ahead of everyone else.

How do you go about picking product for Australian shoppers?
By contrast with overseas markets, Australia is relatively conservative. So I keep this in mind when selecting styles for our market. Whilst we appreciate ‘colour’, we feel much more comfortable purchasing black or navy in jackets, pants and skirts.

You often travel to Paris for buying and research purposes. From your perspective how does the Australian fashion scene stack up on the global stage?
With the introduction of larger fashion brands entering the Australian market I think this has made us become less complacent and more competitive. We can learn a lot by travelling overseas and seeing how other companies merchandise their stores, train their staff and create an overall atmosphere. The future for fashion retailing is to create an ‘experience’ for the customer.

If you were to host a dinner party with your top three style icons, who would you invite?
For me style is not about what you wear, but more how you lead your life. If I was hosting a dinner party I would also want to be surrounded by good conversationalists! I’d invite Carine Roitfeld (former editor of Vogue Paris) – so effortlessly chic, Amal Clooney (brains and beauty, all rolled into one) and Sir Paul Smith. I was fortunate to attend a talk he was giving in Melbourne about three years ago. He was so charming and witty. I remember thinking “Now there’s someone I would love to sit next to at a dinner party!”

What is inspiring you currently?
Too many things to single out!


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