Andy South: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Andy South was the youngest gay contestant on Project Runway this season, and made it into the final three contestants who got to show an entire collection at Fashion Week. He may look familiar on the site because he wrote an article for Oasis about his thoughts on fellow contestant Mondo Guerra revealing he was HIV-positive on the show a few weeks back.

Sadly, Andy didn't end up winning the show, but he seems very aware that Project Runway is an opportunity to build on, and from now, it is up to him to succeed.

We spoke last weekend, two days after the finale aired, and the first day he remembers sleeping in for a very long time, as he transitions from being a reality show contestant back to being a full-time fashion designer.

Here's what we said:

So, I guess it's been a bit of a crazy week for you...

Yeah, it's been kind of hectic.

I've always been curious, and normally I do these interviews while the shows are still going, so I never get to talk about this part, but I'm curious what this experience is like for you, because from the moment almost the show starts airing, you know the result. And at the same time, you then have to play along with everyone online and in the media as it unfolds when the show starts to air. Is that a strange thing?

It is! Everyone is so excited, and 'I hope you win!' and in the back of my mind, I already know what happened. Even watching the episodes was kind of strange for me, because that happened months ago, and I've already moved on from it. I was talking to a friend last night, and I was telling him it's almost like I was living in two worlds.

One world was where I am, I'm moving forward, looking at the fall collection, I'm looking at a new business endeavor here. And then, on the other hand, I'm still living in the world of Project Runway, where everyone is like 'What's going to happen? What's going to happen?' and is so excited. So, it was hard to focus all my energy on moving forward when I still had to wrap things up with the finale.

And how do you think you'll use Project Runway to help launch your career?

A lot of people are surprised when they find out, like, 'Oh, they're not going to set you up with investors? Or put you in contact with people?' But that's not what they do. It's a reality show and the best thing I gain is publicity. People watching all over the world now know my name.

So, it's up to me now, while it's still hot, to make things happen. Especially before next season airs, because once next season airs, I'm going to be old news. That's the case with all of us.

So what's important is what I do now that the show is done and what choices I make, and to do things on my terms, because on the show you're in a competition, there are constraints, so you can't do things on your own terms, on your own time, and at your own speed. Now I'm using the name they helped me to promote.

Now, being in Hawaii, you're probably not interacting with a lot of other designers, do you think you have to move to New York? Or even just the mainland? Or can you set things up there, because ultimately the clothes speak for themselves?

This is something that I just had a change of heart on in the last week. Maybe up until a week or two weeks ago, I said my goal was to move to New York in the next six months and I was focused on relocating to New York and making things happen there, because so many opportunities are there.

But at the same time, I'm not ready to make that move to New York, and it's a huge risk, which I don't mind taking, but very recently I've had a lot of propositions here in Hawaii to start a company and, for me, my heart now is telling me I can make a beginning here, and start here because my name is already established.

There are so many supporters in Hawaii who will help me achieve what I want to achieve and, eventually, I do want to move to New York. It's not like I'm going to be jumping into a pool of thousands of designers trying to compete if I stay here, where if I move to New York, that's going to be the case. I was just on a reality show, it's not like somebody is going to hand me all these things.

Not to mention, the size of the place you were working at in Hawaii...

It's a really good space, yeah.

Was it Christian Siriano where it seems like he was almost on the floor, designing under the stuff that was hanging, and that's where he was cutting and doing stuff...

That's the kind of stuff I did before. There was one year where I slept on my cutting table because I worked out of my garage. And the year after that, we moved and I didn't have a space for my workspace, so I had all of my equipment in a tent in the backyard. And that's what I did until the tent gave in and it was flooded out, so I had to move things indoors. But that's the kind of stuff that designers will do. Anyone who's passionate will sacrifice everything they have to be able to do what they love.