The trailblazer: Jonathan Ward

From farming to fashion, the dapper designer has forged a life in style

Time Out

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Despite his country background, Australian designer Jonathan Ward was always destined for the big city and bright lights of fashion. From dressing Barbie dolls in leftover fabrics from garments his mother made to wear to country picnic races, to dressing celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Elle McPherson under his own label, the Sydney-based Executive Designer for R.M. Williams has a unique blend of town and country running through his veins.

Here, Ward takes time out from his busy day (that kicks off at 5.a.m., no less) to talk training, timepieces and returning to the land.

Man of cloth

Jonathan Ward

What set you on your current career path?

My career path started as a country boy brought up on sheep and cattle properties in western New South Wales. I could draw from an early age and was inspired to sketch by the clothes worn in the fashion magazines that my mother would read such as Vogue and Australian Women’s Weekly.

What do you love about your job?

I have had the amazing opportunity to touch the lives of people from all walks of life with what I love to do most.

Where do you live and what are your favourite three things to do there?

I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and the 3 things I love to do are:

  1. Regular exercise in Rushcutters Bay Park with my trainer to relieve my stress.
  2. Shopping at Becker Minty in Macleay Street, Potts Point, for special gifts.
  3. Dinner and drinks at Catalina, Rose Bay, or Otto, Woolloomooloo, with friends.

What does your daily uniform consist of?

My uniform has always been jeans, R.M. cowboy boots, shirt and tie teamed with a tailored jacket…Oh, and a clean pair of undies and socks.

What’s the best advice you have ever taken?

My father once said: ‘You only live once, as life is no dress rehearsal.’ In other words, go out and enjoy your life and follow your dreams.

What do you collect, and why?

I have a great passion for collecting watches. It started with a family heirloom gold pocket watch that was handed down to me from my great-grandfather who won it at the grand champion Clydesdale exhibit at Wagga Wagga show in 1901. Since then I have collected many watches, for all occasions, from my travels all over the world. My favourite is a Baume et Mercier, given to me by a special friend.

How do you like to start your day?

A double shot piccolo at 5a.m. in Darlinghurst, with a paper, so I hit the ground running.

What is your grooming secret you swear by?

A great aftershave is key! It sets the mood for the day.

What are the signifiers of true quality in a garment?

Versatility and longevity. Provided it’s made with good quality fabrics in an excellent cut, fit and construction, it will stand the test of time.

If you weren’t doing what you do, where would we find you?

I’d either love to be on a desert island with my sunscreen and sketch pad, or back in the country on a property – where life began for me – breeding Merinos, mustering on horseback with a team of dogs…and sketch pad.

What is your absolute essential you can’t do without, town and country?

My R.M.’s and my exercise gear – your health is your wealth! 

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