Whilst our fashion and styling offering have been heating up here at Mr. Fierze, today we’re excited to launch something a little different and that holds a lot of meaning to us, our ‘In Praise of Gents’ series. We get to meet and dress gents from different walks of life every day, and are continually encouraged with inspiring stories that they share of overcoming challenges and hardships that life has thrown at them.
We just celebrated Mens Health Week with a focus on mental health care, and here at Mr Fierze we hope that in sharing these amazing inspiring stories, it will help and encourage men everywhere to open up and share their own stories with each other.
To kick off our very first series, our Director Joel Anthony sits down with a special guest.
Athlete. Model. Empowering Voice.
These words don’t even begin to describe our first gent in our “In Praise Of Gents” series, the incredible Stephan Rochecouste. Having moved from playing Wheelchair Tennis to Wheelchair Rugby League for Australia, this multi talented gent is devoting his energy to playing the most important game of all: Life.
His role, as he sees it, is to use all of his life experience, skills and platform to shine a light on the many inequities in our society that the disabled demographic face. Stephan is empowering others with a disability through the modelling and fashion industry, and his mission is to break down stigmas and the current normality of main stream modelling by introducing more and more people with a disability. In doing so, he aims to help create action plans that maintain a goal of normalising disability within the fashion world.
Today, we ask Stephan a few questions and get behind his mindset and see what makes this gent tick.
Featured look: Dom Bagnato Dark Green Velvet Jacket
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What was life like for you growing up?
A: Well I grew up in south-west Sydney and I am of Mauritian background. Growing up in terms of how I got from A to B and how long it took me to do things was always different to those around me at school, but my upbringing in how I talked to people and had respect for everyone I met was a testimony to how my parents brought me up as a child. I was born with spina-bifida which is a birth defect to the spine and around the time I was born, early detection wasn’t as great as to what it is now in the accuracy of picking it up.
I have a huge passion for all things sports, in particular rugby league and football (the round ball game). I’m growing increasingly fond of fashion and every detail in between it also.
Q: It's great to hear that the hardships you faced growing up didn’t stop you from following your passions. Speaking of which, what is the impact that sport has had on you?
A: Sport has played a huge part in my life as it’s given me a sense of connection to the able bodied people around me, for a while it gave me a sense of belonging also. Now it’s a key reminder of what makes me who I am and the purpose I serve for not only myself but everyone around me that also wants to be involved in an inclusive sport like wheelchair rugby league.
Featured look: Daniel Hechter Cream Shawl Tuxedo Jacket.
Q: Just to dig in a little deeper on your mental space growing up. It would have been so easy to for you to fall into a dark space or just give up mentally. How have you managed to remain strong and resilient growing up to this point?
A: Sports in combination with my tennis coach taught me very early on to have an open mind and a no-judgement approach to every situation. Now, everyday my partner and I practice a mindfulness exercise that requires us to communicate whether it be through text or in person two things that we are grateful for each and every day.
I am also generally a positive person, I know that there are people that are facing must worst in other parts of the world. We have clean running water that flows from a turn of a tap. What else is there to complain about?
Well my car broke down over the week which made me late for work - so maybe not thankful for that haha!
Q: I admire that you’ve found yourself a place that really makes you feel like it’s where you belong. Circulating around this sense of belonging, who would you consider to be your idols?
A: I definitely look to my family, for without them I wouldn’t have had the upbringing and opportunities I had growing up. I’ve been blessed in being brought up in a family where food is one of the ways you show love to someone and that’s truly something special to me.
Other people include; Benji Marshall, Cooper Cronk and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Q: That's amazing! What are some of the challenges you face as a disabled person in Australia?
A: Definitely the inclusion of people living with a disability within social settings. I remember being fresh out of high school and going night clubbing most weekends. I used to go to the ATM before the night begun and getting cash out, and 9 times out of 10 that money would still be in my wallet by the end of the night. Not always a bad thing when you’re having a night out, I must add.
However, it showed the misinformation we still lack as a community when it comes to knowing the limitations of what someone with a disability can and can’t do. In this case it’s going out and having a good time. I had so many people on a night out shout me drinks because they thought it was so good to see me out with people. Like I should be locked away playing video games in my room. If the biggest challenge/misconception people have when it comes to people living with a disability, it’s that people with a disability can live a healthy and independent life also.
Featured look: Joe Black Troop DB Jacket
Q: We love that you are already changing the misconception of those living with a disability just by being your fun, energetic self. What is your goal out of all the representation and voice that you have?
A: My goal is to encourage the wider disabled community to be brave, go to social settings you want to go to, go on dates with people or meet up with people and tell your story. I would love to recreate the narrative that people living with a disability can be such things as; sexy, influential, strong, independent, creative. This is so we can close the gap of understanding when it comes to the topic of people living with a disability and those who look after someone living with a disability also. We are just human beings doing that same things but with better perks like disabled parking spaces on Boxing Day haha!
Q: Haha! What inspired you to get into modelling?
A: The desire to be a model started in 2014. I hated the way I looked for so long especially the way in which my legs didn’t grow but my upper body was well and truly developed. For so long I had dealt with this sense of feeling ‘incomplete’ to the point where I was watching a particular fashion show and I thought ‘why can’t we celebrate all different types of body shapes and sizes, and the way we go down the runway as well? So that’s when I thought the representation of people with a disability needed to be much more noticeable in the fashion and modelling industry.
Q: That's amazing to hear! Especially with what's happening in the world today, I don't think it's enough to be silent and observe change, we have to be part of making a change! On that note game-changer, last question, what is the future looking like for you, Stephan?
SR: Who knows, but I’m loving the journey so far. With an open heart I will see what's next! So stay tuned!
Featured look: Dom Bagnato Dark Green Velvet Jacket
There you have it! We are so excited to have had Stephan on as our first guest to kick off this series. We hope to continue this series on monthly as our way of highlighting everyday heroes in the community and giving them a voice and platform to talk and affect more change.
Follow Stephan's journey on Instagram, @Stephan.Rochecouste.
Have a gent in mind that you believe deserves the praise and should share his story? Nominate him by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hire Stephan's looks, go to SHOP to find the attire and book a fitting.