There are a number of places you may recognise Blake Sutherland from. If you've lived in Sydney for a while, perhaps you've seen him on the street. At 6"1 with a swarm of curls around his face and personal style that makes people sit up a bit straighter, he's hard to miss. Perhaps it's been on Instagram, where, on a Saturday night, he might appear in a mutuals Instagram story, doing runway walks in the club. More recently, it's probably from TikTok, or a recent Paper Magazine article, which celebrates his runway-specific approach to being late or doing other everyday tasks.
"I love to reference shows in looks I do, and that outfit itself was inspired by Couture FW19 though I used the soundtrack from SS20 which most people know from Leon Dame's iconic walk. It wasn't ever really a conscious thing in the beginning, I just saw it as a way to show what I was wearing at that moment and it just kind of took off, " he tells us.
Since then, the references have become more specific, like his recent "when you're taking out the trash but in a Balenciaga AW22 kind of way" video, where dressed in a Vetements hoodie, boxy black blazer, and jeans tucked into knee-high boots, Sutherland charges down his hallways carrying a trash bag to BFRND's Storm looking as though Demna's apocalyptic snow globe spat him right out into an apartment complex.
@blakeislivelyThis was the funniest one to film I promise♬ Storm - BFRND
Sensationalised runway walks are hardly a new concept on the video app, with users constantly begging for the drama on the runway to be brought back like it was in the 90s, and almost everyone – interested in fashion or not – has now witnessed Leon Dame's iconic walk for Maison Margiela SS20, a moment Sutherland is certainly aware of, too. There are compilations of Bella Hadid's runway evolution and mock videos of Balenciaga's eerie Fall Winter 22/23 Haute Couture show. But the best part about Sutherland's contribution? He's giving runway history lessons with such astuteness, and it was practically an accident.
"I don't think it was ever my intention to educate specifically although if that's a take away from the videos then I am super happy," he says. "I really just love to walk and to make people laugh. I try not to take myself too seriously so when I do there's always humour somewhere in it. Seeing people recreate them has been really cool."
@blakeislivelySorry Im back 💙♬ Horíme - Brutalismus 3000
For Sutherland, fashion, and specifically memorable runway moments have always interested him as a way to both find escapism and affirmation in people who are "a bit weird looking." This in depth understanding of historic runway moments is what makes his new niche feel so authentic.
"I really always want to learn as much as I can. I discovered fashion in its entirety when I was a teenager on tumblr. I was obsessed with Abbey Lee and Lindsey Wixson and anyone kind of celebrated for being a bit weird looking." He says. "I probably followed every high fashion blog there was, and found a community of other kids escaping life through fashion. I would download show soundtracks on my iPod and runway walk to and from school pretending I was in some elaborate show a world away from where and who I was. That kind of gave me the basis of whatever knowledge I have today and I've been involved in the fashion industry in probably every capacity ever since."
@blakeislively FIve stars I promise #fashion #runway #celine ♬ Rudeboi - Eli Brown
The same teenage, iPod fuelled runway walks, alongside a look that would make Hedi Slimane go rabid, lends itself particularly well to his newfound role on TikTok, and in his real life modelling career, too (yes, you can book Blake to walk your shows with the same serve he gives at a local Kmart). As far as how he pulls it all off with such accuracy goes? His secret is as much the music as it is the styling.
"Sometimes I'm wearing something that reminds me of a specific show or designer and sometimes maybe only the shoe or jacket does so I do a bit more research until I find something similar but sometimes it's not specific at all and I just make something up. Sometimes I reference the way a model walked in a show (almost always Steinberg). I find that the song choice plays a big role in the way a video is received and most of the time the actual show soundtrack for the reference isn't good or available so I just use whatever I think people will respond to. I think the specific nature of the references is what makes it funny even if it's not always entirely correct."