Andy South: Interview

Being a youth site, we wanted to get you on Oasis, because you were the youngest contestant on the show... but all along, I was wondering, how do you get as committed and as good as you are at this at 24? I don't think I knew what I was doing at 24, and you're making your own pleated fabric as part of a dress, and then you're weaving something else, so where do you learn all this?

For me, I think I found my passion a little later, because I didn't fall in love with fashion until I was 16 or 17. Up until then, I didn't know what fashion was. I didn't know what this world was about. I had no clue.

I went to high school wearing T-shirts and basketball shorts and, like, flip-flops every day. You know? Because that's just the lifestyle here. That's what I love about Hawaii, too. And I embrace it. There are days here where I rock board shorts and a tank top, and that's it. I don't have to get dressed up every day, and that's what I love about fashion. You're not locked into one thing.

It's an artistic expression for me, and that's why, with my work, it's more artistic. That's why I'm so conceptual and thoughtful about what I do because, for me, it's an art. I don't so much follow rules, except for design and proportion, and things that are visually appealing.

A lot of the designers on the show, they're all older than me, and they were all very impressed that I was 23, when I competed, and at that age they were all 'I didn't know what the hell I was doing,' and they didn't know until I told them, either. They all thought that I was in my late twenties, approaching my thirties.

But I decided that I really am an old soul, as Tim Gunn has told me many times. But many people have said that to me in my past and continue to. I don't think everyone finds what they're passionate about the same age. Some people find it really early and know what they want to do from age six. I didn't.

But once you find it, it's something you can't imagine yourself not doing. You can't go a day without thinking about it. You can't fathom a life without it. And that's what this is for me. And because of that, I'm able to be so focused on doing this. It's the one thing that can make me happy.

Now that I'm coming off of the show, people are like, 'How is it to be a celebrity?' and I'm like it's nice sometimes, but I'm not that person. I'm not the celebrity person (laughs).

It was never my goal to be famous in life. It was always my goal to be successful, and when you set your mind on that and living a happy life, sometimes being famous comes with it. That's what this show has been. I know it's going to settle down soon, and my life will come down once this passes.

I was talking to my friend earlier, before I spoke to you today, and I just told him, I'd be happiest just working, being able to create, and being able to see something succeed and see my company grow, gain momentum, and take off... but, I'd rather be behind the scenes. I would rather work and work and work and have people just be interested in my work rather than me.

Being on the show, people are kind of interested in both. But I love it when people are just interested in the work, and then they can be impartial to what I create. That's what's important to me.

With reality shows, you're being filmed every moment you're awake, and we hear the runway shows are six or seven hours long... do you think we did get to see the real Andy on the show? Or did you decide to portray yourself a certain way, like 'I'm going to be quiet' or...

No, that's really me. (laughs) Do you mean was I playing a part on TV?

Well, some people say 'Normally I'm a bit more bossy, but here I'm going to pull back and not give my opinion all the time,' and not do things that might put a target on their back....

By being outspoken, yeah. That's true, very true. I know exactly what you mean, because normally I am very quiet, and I'm actually very happy with how I was portrayed on the show. I think it's very true to who I am. And a lot of people who know me can see that.

If you notice, in the beginning, I didn't get a lot of camera time. Even towards the end, I didn't get a lot of camera time until the finale episode, and that's because I'm not a lot of drama. I'm not going to be catty and talk about someone's work in a manner that's going to be as interesting as maybe someone who's going to talk crap about someone's work, and be really blunt. That's just not who I am.

I joke, because it's like I grew up Asian, I'm just not like that. I have my opinions and I talk to people about my opinions, but I'm not going to be all 'Oh, I hate this person's work.' It's just not me. I really hate that.

As an artist, I know how to love certain things about everyone's work. I try to understand where people are coming from, because there's always something I like and always something that I don't care for. It's not a matter of right and wrong, and that's where people get mixed up.

Especially with how Gretchen, for example, voices her opinions, like it was a right or wrong sort of thing. But I understand that everyone has a different point of view, and I respect that, first and foremost.

I may not be in the same place as them. I may not care for the same things that they like. But I understand that also changes, you know? I know my aesthetic changes and evolves. So, I'm never going to judge someone based on that.