A trench coat is a bit like a canvas. Where so many things we wear come with a pre-assigned identity — a logo, print or silhouette that communicates something about us — a trench coat is a total chameleon, designed to be styled, belted and cuffed to reflect our own personal tastes.
This is why people from all walks of life consider it to be such a staple. It’s also why, when the opportunity arose to assemble, style and photograph a group of young Australian artists, musicians and sportspeople who inspire us on a daily basis, we thought a trench would make an excellent common denominator. And no brand knows its way around a classic trench quite like Burberry.
Here, seven young Aussies driving culture forward put their own unique spin on the Burberry trench, as they reflect on the dreams they’ve achieved – and those they’re still chasing.
Rhys Kosakowski, dancer and choreographer
PERSONAL STYLE doesn’t exist in a vacuum, according to dancer and choreographer Rhys Kosakowski. “People in the dance and fashion industries are very colourful and expressive,” he says. “Everyone is so lively and they’re constantly looking for new ways to express themselves. That definitely rubs off on me and inspires me.”
Kosakowski trained in ballet and contemporary dance, performing with the Sydney Dance Company and Houston Ballet. Recently, the 28-year-old has expanded his creative output to modelling, in addition to working as a movement director within the fashion industry. “Mastering my craft looks like doing it, being happy doing it and coming up with new ideas,” Kosakowski says. “When I was younger, I was very apprehensive of where my life would take me. But I always had dreams and missions that I wanted to do and I’m actually doing them now.”
Fashion played a big part in Kosakowski’s coming of age and he says that clothing is still a vehicle for creative expression. “I’ve brought something fun – something I would wear out to an event or club, to style with my trench,” he explains of the black leather pants he’s wearing today. “The Burberry trench has a lot of movement and my life has a lot of movement, so I think they go hand in hand.”
He likens wearing the heritage trench coat to putting on a new pair of boots. “It gives you that height – you almost feel taller. It’s like that boost of confidence. When I put a trench coat on, it’s like putting that cherry on top. I feel confident.”
As the Newcastle-born Sydney-based creative looks towards the second half of the year, he’s excited to continue broadening his horizons and combining his two loves: dance and fashion. “I’ve been looking at life more positively and being more open. Whatever happens is meant to happen.”
Gemma Chua-Tran, actor
AS THE SPUNKY PINK-HAIRED SASHA in the 2022 reboot of iconic ’90s Australian coming-of-age drama Heartbreak High, Gemma Chua-Tran charmed audiences all over the world. Now that the show has been officially renewed for a second season, she is reflecting on her ambitions within the acting profession.
“Being able to align your craft with something that makes sense holistically, instead of just doing it for the sake of doing it – I think that’s important,” she says. “Also, being able to act and keep my mental health sane; I’m still figuring out how to do [that], but it’s all part of the process.”
Before Chua-Tran contemplated making acting her career, she considered going down a more ‘traditional’ route, like medicine or law. But during school, she’d write skits and daydream about performing on screen. After enrolling in night-time acting classes, she signed with an agent when she turned 14, landing roles in short films and Mustangs FC soon after. Today, she’s right where she’s meant to be, yet still challenging herself with new experiences.
“I just started getting into theatre last year, which has been really exciting and something I’ve always wanted to do.” She’s also a talented photographer and enjoys getting behind the camera when she’s not on set.
“I think trench coats are so iconic. So, bringing a little bit of freshness and youth to it is fun, as a little contradiction,” she says, gesturing to her tights and ballet flats. “Everything is a bit of a mishmash and I think that’s what I love.”
Paulo Aokuso, boxer
“MY NAME IS PAULO AOKUSO, my fighter name is Sweet P and I’m a soon-to-be world champion.”
The 26-year-old from Mount Druitt in Western Sydney doesn’t mince his words. We believe him, too. Since going pro a little over a year ago, the boxer is 4-0, with three knockouts. Before that, in March 2020, he defeated Uzbekistan’s Dilshodbek Ruzmetov, the 2019 World Championship silver medallist, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. There, the light heavyweight lost a razor-thin split decision to Spain’s Gazi Jalidov. Now, the southpaw has his sights set on Paris 2024.
“I’m a sporty person, I like to be active,” Aokuso tells us. “I love basketball too. I love playing all the games.” When it comes to styling himself outside of the ring, Aokuso says he’s “more of a sportswear person. But I can balance it. When I put on a Burberry coat, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel like a successful person, like I’ve actually come far in life, from where I was as a little child.”
He may be on a four-fight winning streak, but for Aokuso, supporting his family is the ultimate marker of success. “My biggest achievement so far in life is helping my mum out with the house,” he says. “Family is a big part of my life so it’s good to give back to my family. My future goal is to pay off the house and give them good shelter.”
In the ring, he’s hungry for more success. “Hopefully you guys will know my name soon,” he says. “I’m proud of where I’ve come from. I’m still the same person. I guess I’ve just succeeded more.”
Guy Vadas, ceramicist
IT CAN TAKE YEARS of relentless practice to master a clay throw, but for Guy Vadas, the process was intuitive. In just five years, the 26-year-old has built Céramiques, a clay studio with three Melbourne outposts that offers workshops, a kiln service and custom pot commissions by Vadas himself. “Being able to create spaces for others to come and connect through clay – I think that’s been my biggest achievement,” he says.
Before he opened a business and began teaching fledgling ceramicists how to shape vessels, Vadas was a model. A natural in front of the camera, on TikTok alone – where he goes by the handle @potteryboy – Vadas is followed by 1.7 million people who tune in to observe his creations coming together, as well as his utilitarian personal style. When working in the studio, Vadas’s uniform consists of boilersuits and denim overalls, as well as the odd apron, minus a shirt beneath.
“I tend to gravitate towards very earthy tones with pops of green and colour,” Vadas says of his personal style. “It’s sort of in alignment with the work I’m creating, because I’m mainly making vessels and pots for plants and flowers.” Needless to say, the iconic black of Burberry’s heritage trench coat forms the perfect backdrop to Vadas’s brighter pieces. “I feel like I can wear it to any occasion,” he says, as he ties the belt around his torso. “It’s very classic and timeless.”
When the five-year anniversary of Céramiques came around this April, Vadas found himself reflecting, not only on what he’s achieved professionally, but personally, too. “I’m a lot more self-assured and comfortable in my own skin. And I think that’s been the biggest change for me. I’m just me, as opposed to trying to be someone else.”
With ambitions to expand his empire to 10 or more spaces within the next decade, one thing’s for sure: Australia’s amateur ceramicist population is set for major growth.
Vincent Goodyer, producer, composer
HE’S CO-PRODUCED TRACKS for Kid Cudi, co-written for Cordae and Young Thug and arranged, composed and recorded the strings for Lil Nas X’s debut album Montero, for which he was nominated for a 2022 Best Album Grammy. But Vincent Goodyer says one of his greatest achievements happened the night before our photoshoot, when he took his sister to the 2023 Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) awards.
“It was really cool showing her the world I work in. It was actually really sick,” says the producer and composer, who goes by the alias 18YOMAN.
Goodyer, a proud Bunaba man, works across multiple music genres and says the variety of his work inspires his own approach to fashion and life more broadly. “Moving between genres has meant that I get exposed to a lot of different fashion, so I think I’m a bit of a collage at times,” says Goodyer, who wears his Burberry trench with faded blue jeans. “I feel like a spy when I pull it on,” he says with a grin. “I feel important, like I’m on the run, which makes it an exciting day.”
Goodyer’s talent also extends to TV and film: in 2022 he composed the soundtrack for Australian TV drama Mystery Road: Origin, which included contributions from an array of emerging Australian artists. When looking towards the future, the producer is excited about helping others discover their voice and sound.
“In 10 years? I’d like a couple more tats. I would like to be happy, comfortable and not working too hard. I want to be helping other people,” he says. “Mastering my craft is something I feel like I’m always going to be doing. I feel like it’s important just to show up and be consistent and get the best out of myself.”
Serwah Attafuah, artist, musician
WHEN DIGITAL ART AND NFTS became a global phenomenon, Serwah Attafuah was – and still is – at the cutting edge. Based on Dharug land in Western Sydney, the multidisciplinary artist worked with oil paints before experimenting with computer-generated compositions. Today, her cyber dreamscapes are characterised by afro- futuristic iconography with strong ancestral themes and the world is paying attention. In 2021, she was selected to take part in Sotheby’s inaugural NFT auction, ‘Natively Digital’, where the auction house described her as a “highly important and visible artist opening up discussions and giving presence to empowering images of afro-futurist identity in the NFT space”.
In addition to creating digital art, Attafuah is a musician. “I’m really proud of the fact I’ve released three albums so far, before I turned 25,” she says. Creativity, she adds, is a “continual journey . . . You don’t arrive at being a master. Learning is definitely a key part of the journey”.
Her aesthetic is influenced by the music she listens to – death metal and “more extreme styles” are fixtures on her playlists. “I definitely embody that genre. My personal style is based on having a really cool jacket, or something to sort of hide inside,” she offers.
She’s got a TED Talk and has collaborated on NFTs with Paris Hilton and pop star Charli XCX. But Attafuah isn’t finished ushering greater representation into the digital art sphere, which is predominantly white and dominated by male artists. “I think if I was to describe myself to a younger version of me, I’d be explaining how proud I will be of myself,” she tells us. “I’ve become the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
Shaun Daniel Allen (Shal), artist, tattooist, musician
LIKE AERIAL SNAPSHOTS of the river systems that snake up and down Australia’s East Coast, Shaun Daniel Allen’s paintings seduce the eye and take it on a captivating journey. A proud Yugambeh- born Bundjalung man, Daniel Allen – or ‘Shal’ as he’s known by most – began painting in 2020 as a way to feel more connected to his country and culture. Soon after, he was introduced to ochre, the natural pigment that would form part of his signature style.
Today, that style extends from public murals into the homes of private collectors, as well as the walls of Australia’s most important cultural institutions – in late 2022 Shal was asked to paint the ribbon that would be ceremoniously cut to mark the official opening of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s new Sydney Modern extension.
But painting isn’t Shal’s only creative outlet. “I’m a tattoo artist and I play music in a band, all the hyphenated things,” he says with a modest chuckle. You could call him a jack of many trades, because the artist doesn’t necessarily believe in mastering just one. “If it’s something you truly love, then you’re going to be learning every day and that is mastering it to an extent, because the love is still there.”
When it comes to style, the artist says that “it’s function over fashion half the time”. “I feel like everything I own is covered in paint and ochre, or ink from tattooing. Everything is kind of messy. I definitely feel like that’s me as a whole.” But like anyone with strong personal style, Shal’s ‘messiness’ is part of what makes his uniform his. As he explains: “I’ve coupled my Burberry trench coat with the pants that I wear in the studio, so they’re covered in paint. Tying them with something classic – I guess I would call that my style.”
Amy Campbell is Esquire Australia’s Features Editor.