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This is an exclusive extract from Ragtrader's December edition. For more in-depth industry content, subscribe here.

Toni Maticevski was recently named as the 2016 Australian Fashion Laureate. Here he shares his journey with readers.

There have been many career highlights. For different reasons. Some may seem minor and some definitely are big.

I was surprised at how taken back I was at receiving the Australian Fashion Laureate Award this year.

I think seeing so many faces you know and who have seen you grew and form your business voting for you and standing by you is a massive achievement.

Then there are those moments when you first pick up your first international account. Like Club 21 in Singapore.

And then there are the moments you launch your own eCommerce store, having a standing ovation show at Fashion Week with people in tears because it connected to a part of them, not purely on a fashion level.

Completing a beautiful piece and knowing that it’s something special that people will fall in love with too.

All of these things are definite highlights. Some occur more frequently than others but the unexpectedness definitely makes them special.

I think the greatest career challenge is picking yourself up.

After a bad season, even after a good season.

The pressure can be just as bad with each season. I put so much pressure on myself which always makes it hard for my team I know because they want to help me. But most times it’s not something that can be fixed by anyone.

It’s like finding love, you know when it’s right and no-one can tell you when and how to find it. In order to overcome it, the challenge becomes how to not alienate people and friends and loved ones.

Balancing delicately whilst trying to focus is probably the best solution. And self-belief.

The biggest change I've seen in the industry, locally, is that Australia and its designers probably have the strongest and most unique voice. I think that we have far greater reach than the industry gives us credit for.

We traipse across the world to be visible and unrelentingly drive our ideas. Even though the industry here could and does need work and help, I think we still do an incredible job to imprint our influence.

The only thing is not being part of the clique, but then again who wants to be part of a clique?

A clique exists to carry semi-talented people. That’s why we all back each other but we don’t rely on each other to pave our own way.

Change happens and you have to roll with it or you get left behind. If anything I think that a lot of industry has become transparent in their alliances and how they build their brands/magazines/entity and personal profiles.

In some ways, I don’t see a lot changing because people who are very comfortable with their routine and method have reached certain pinnacles in their career by following the rules and direct means to success.

I don’t believe in following the rules and being led to success.

It is probably harder to be a fashion designer now than before, but then I have been doing it for a long time.

There are definitely more designers in the market now than there were say 20 years ago.

Probably by 100% more. Which I think is great. This means that you have to make your work count and be different.

There is more output in terms of design than there was 20 years ago.

There is more stress on business and infrastructure, the ability to produce in copious amounts and deliver newness.

To stay inspired and to continue to inspire. It definitely feels like an industry on speed. There is a sense of the wheels about to unhinge but that could be again an exciting time for those who can cope with the madness.

Social media did not exist as an opportunity before. It’s been the best thing for me to make my work visible to an audience who would have otherwise not have had any means to discover what I do except if they followed a very select few in the media.

It has meant that my work speaks for itself and sells itself. I don’t have to be visible as much as I used to be which is great as I dislike the social aspect of the job.

I have a direct connection and contact with my customer across the world. I interface and communicate with them daily and love hearing their feedback and how they felt wearing a piece I designed.

One piece of advice I would give to the industry: pay the people you work with, suppliers included, before you pay yourself. If you have their back, they will have yours.

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