Now we have a special blog post today; Oscar Von Memerty is a short stature fashion blogger from South Africa. Sharing his OOTD (outfit of the day) videos on TikTok and Instagram. Founder, Chamiah, came across Oscar’s page very recently and instantly had to message him! It’s so rare in this space to find a male, short stature blogger, who puts stylish looks together! We couldn’t wait to find out more, so we interviewed him to give you all the goss’ on how he navigates the fashion industry as a little person.
Chamiah: Hi Oscar! Please introduce yourself in whatever way feels most authentic to you.
Hello, my name is Oscar von Memerty. I am 27 years old and I am from South Africa.
I am a person…
- with an insatiable curiosity that enjoys continuously researching and implementing what I find interesting, whether it is fashion, dance, photography etc.
- I am a dog dad of one very cute mixed breed called Lucy.
- I am an ardent inclusion follower, constantly looking at ways we can incorporate inclusion so that disabled people feel included but non-disabled people don’t feel alienated.
Professionally I am…
- A content creator for learning programmes that empowers youth through interactive SETA accredited courses.
An on and off-stage performer and dancer with 11 years’ experience performing on stage and TV. -
- A public speaker sharing my story and inclusion knowledge with corporations.
A recent Fashion and styling content creator that I hope to grow organically. Providing content that is informative to both average-height and short stature individuals. – https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM2NnJ49F/
I have a rare genetic condition called Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome which is fatal without treatment. Luckily, I have had two bone marrow transplants (one at 2 years old and one at 6 years old) which means I now have a normal life span.-
Below is on old interview that gives some background
- My condition has many complications, one being that I am short stature where I stand at 117 cm tall.
- I have had a total of 8 medical procedures from bone marrow transplants to corneal transplants.
Oh wow! What an amazing introduction Oscar. I had no idea you were a performer. It’s also so interesting to learn more about your condition, as you say, it’s rare, so I’d never even heard of it.
So, you’ve recently become a fashion content creator online, so how would you describe your personal style?
Probably “incipient phase”. I only started actively researching style and fashion in the last 7 months. Before I would loosely buy a single piece of clothing and thought it “completed” the look. Since then, I’ve learnt that it takes creativity and intentional selection of multiple items to complete a look.
Having said that, I am naturally drawn to Japanese Americana, Dark Academia, City boy and punk/alternative style. As a child and teen, fashion culture wasn’t something I thought I could be a part of because I didn’t see Little people represented, whether it was hip hop, hipster, punk, rock, Avant garde, high end fashion etc. I had no “group” that I could fit into so in a way I think I am making up for lost time by trying and showcasing as many styles as I can, to show we can be just as knowledgeable and trail blazing even if our clothes are on the smaller side. I hope to be that Male Little Person role model that I never saw. I want to be a role model not just for Little People but non-disabled individuals as society needs a perception shift of Little People.
Collage of images of men’s fashion, images feature trench coats, wide leg trousers, blazers, hoodies etc. lots of beige, black, and green colours feature. Very earthy tones.
Well I just had to make an Oscar-themed collage of your personal style, you’ve got it down to a T!! I also couldn’t agree more with you, there are so little (if not none) male role models in this space, which is why I was so excited to come across your page actually. I think you’ve really nailed being able to style smaller clothing, so that it feels sophisticated and original.
So, who are your style icons and inspirations?
In terms of style, I don’t have a particular person or brand that comes to mind, probably because I’m still in the explorative phase. What I will say though is that I have been drawn to different nation’s philosophies when it comes to fashion. Namely Japanese, Parisian and UK societies.
From research I understand that Japanese culture has a very intentional and knowledge-based approach to fashion. They will go to great lengths in adopting a particular style and the culture behind it. From that base they will intentionally research every detail on how to recreate that look. Details such as fabrics, colour combos, silhouettes, brands, and history. Once they have adopted this style they continuously refine, rework, and reimagine that style in as many ways as possible. This idea of reworking and innovating a look as opposed to looking for the next trend is something that really resonated with me.
I recently watched Vogue France’s entire YouTube series “Le Street Style”. I loved the idea of interviewing everyday people and their approach to style. What I saw is that Parisians are incredibly authentic to their own selves and ideas of fashion. They will mix and match all sorts of clothing, whether it's a high-end item mixed with a piece that they found in their parent’s closet, whatever they think looks good is what they choose. This idea of self-expression really resonated with me. They are cool in the best possible way, completely comfortable with themselves as individuals.
The UK I believe has the most progressive forms of disability inclusion when it comes to fashion advertising and marketing campaigns. All the brands, individuals, and accounts I follow that I think are the most progressive are predominantly from the UK for. example.
- Chamiah Dewey
- Unhidden clothing
- Purple Goat Agency
- Zebedee Inclusive Talent Agency
- Sinead Burke
- Edward Enninful
- The Valuable 500
- Caroline Casey
The rest of the world can definitely learn from this inclusive movement I see rising in the UK.
Ah thank you for including us in that, the UK is certainly in a real growth phase when it comes to inclusive fashion. A couple of other names for your radar are: Shani Dhanda, Samantha Renke, Charlie Randell, Parallel Lifestyle, Liberare, Purple Tuesday, Isaac Harvey, Seated Sewing, Mike Adams etc. I could go on forever!
So, how do you choose your outfits and accessories?
It usually starts with research and inspirations from platforms such as Pinterest, Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube. I’ll then have a loose idea of what I’m looking for. I often make mental notes to look for items that can match well with what I’ve already got so that I have as many choices as possible.
I say loose idea of items because there is no guarantee that I’ll find the exact item I’m looking for in my size, it’s not as simple as finding an item online and ordering it as often the items I like are inaccessible either in size or in price as I am based in South Africa and the conversion cost of the items and the cost of posting can be extreme.
From there I look at as many stores that I can to see what items are the closets that I’m looking for.
Oscar, a short stature male with fair skin and dark facial hair and glasses, wears a black t-shirt, cargos, with a black belt and a necklace. He also wears a red beanie and he holds a jacket in one hand. Behind him Is graffiti.
And what is your favourite trend right now?
I haven’t been a trend kind of person especially if it involves buying an item such as clothing as often the trend is not accessible to me, and others like me. It’s probably why I don’t have a set brand that I’m loyal to as I go with any brand that fits what I am looking for.
What I have really enjoyed seeing is the rise of creators developing skills such as brand building, design and sewing. The internet is such a useful tool if you use it in a way that is empowering. Seeing other creators sharing, teaching, showcasing, and testing their skills is something special. For example, up cyclers, I enjoy seeing and understanding their creative process from taking a thrifted item and transforming it into their own creation, this is something I really admire. I probably connect to this “Trend” because its adaptive in nature, something that I understand because I am constantly adapting to my surroundings. Not only is it adaptive but also creative. I think as a Little Person it can be tiring having to constantly adapt. Sometimes it’s just easier to focus on whether it’s functional or not, this doesn’t leave room for creativity. I think this is why I enjoy styling and fashion because I must be adaptive, but I can also be creative.
You should check out @ca8ty on TikTok, she’s a little person who up-cycles and makes her own clothes! It’s fascinating to watch.
Oscar wears a black outfit with a red beanie, behind him is a walk of graffiti
If could be in charge of any fashion house/ brand, which would you pick and why and what would you change?
Currently I don’t know enough about many fashion houses as I’ve only focused on understanding fashion and styling fundamentals. Once I have a firm grasp on the concepts and “lingo” then I probably will do a deeper dive into brands to understand their history, culture, and social movements. Overseeing a fashion house is a huge responsibility both for the company and for society.
I would probably be a better contributor if I were perhaps a brand ambassador, spokesperson, model, and consultant for different brands. I have 11 years of experience being a public speaker and public figure so I’m comfortable with sharing my experience and story. I’m a firm believer that for people’s perception of Little People to change they need to be constantly exposed to Little People in roles of strength that showcases their intelligence, creativity, and personalities. For example, constantly seeing Little People modelling in branded clothing standing alongside “average” size people on billboards or adverts. Or seeing Little People giving their expert opinion on topics that shows levels of experience and competencies.
In terms of advertising and marketing, fashion houses play a huge role in social culture. They in a way guide what is deemed “cool”, “high class”, “affluent”, “on trend” etc. With that kind of platform, fashion houses can be key drivers in making disability / Little People less “taboo”. I would encourage some sort of disability inclusion to be a part of the majority of advertising and marketing campaigns. By constantly exposing society to disability, it removes the “fear factor” and opens doors for a two-way communication between the disabled and able bodied communities. I would advise that disabled people be part of the “behind closed doors” meetings, sharing their creativity and input on how they want to be represented and included.
That sounds like a great idea, getting brands to have discussions about short stature and disability is the first step in progressive inclusion!
How did you first get interested in fashion and become a fashion influencer?
During 2020 Covid I started researching diversity and inclusion and only then did I realize how far behind we are in South Africa compared to the UK, US, and Australia. I started following other creators to see what kind of content they were producing. I knew I had the potential to be a voice in the movement, but I didn’t have a vehicle to showcase it. I wanted a niche that allowed me to 1) campaign and showcase my disability without it being too “in your face” 2) provide knowledge and content that is valuable to as many types of people as possible 3) a niche that showcases my personality so that overtime my audience stops just seeing the “difference” and sees a complete person and 4) a niche that is fun and engaging.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2022 I had a bad period of anxiety and depression followed by months of therapy, medication, and small goals to rebuild my self-esteem and confidence. Part of my rebuilding was my wardrobe and how I wanted to portray myself to the world. I started watching Get Ready with Me content on Instagram which intrigued me. I wanted to go beyond those videos and really understand why they put together the outfits in the way that they do. I disappeared down the research rabbit hole and started finding all sorts of fashion and styling content. Using this knowledge, I started buying items with intention. The outfits I started putting together got positive responses from all kinds of people whether it was at work or the shops. I felt I was now ready to start creating my own content. I like my style of content for a multitude of reasons. I feel like I’m 1) expanding the perception of Little People 2) I’m adding value to others regardless of their height by providing styling knowledge 3) I’m broadening my audiences philosophy of fashion and styling and 4) I show my audience that the idea of “Adaption” is a lesson that can be learnt and that anyone can apply it whether you’re disabled or able bodied. Celebrating our differences as well as our similarities is important.
I’m sorry to hear you had such a rubbish start to 2022, I actually had a similar experience of beginning the year by going on medication and seeking therapy for anxiety, so I can sympathise to how lonely it is. You’re definitely expanding perceptions of little people, your content is so educational and sophisticated, that anyone can watch and enjoy.
Oscar wears a striped top with a black leather jacket, green trousers and smart brown shoes with a flat cap.
Have you faced any challenges or discrimination as a short stature fashion influencer? If so, how did you handle it?
In my day to day, I usually don’t experience discrimination. I have had one or two weird interactions with people in person but nothing serious. I do of course have lots of people staring at me no matter where I go but I know generally it’s coming from a place of innocent curiosity and lack of exposure to Little People or skewed views of Little People from “reality” TV.
Since posting online I have had some negative responses to my height, but I went into this knowing that this happens to anyone who tries to make a success of themselves online, trolls are one of the occupational hazards of content creation. I don’t mind if someone has an opinion about my outfit as in, they don’t think an item goes well with another. However, when I see negative comments about my height or rude analogues that are intended to be hurtful, I simply block the account. “Block and move on” is saying I learnt from one of our local celebs DJ Sbu. My life experience and vision are more important than a small comment from someone I never met plus I focus on the enormous amount of positivity and love I receive from the majority of my followers.
I love that you describe it as an occupational hazard😅. What message do you hope to send to other short stature individuals/your followers through your fashion and platform?
I hope to show that just because some people or societal “norm” may deem a certain quality as “negative” for example being short stature, doesn’t mean that it is. That we have the power to challenge those narratives and help people change their perceptions. Our societal narratives are only references to things we have seen before. Social norms are forever changing, and we can be part of that change. We don’t have to wait for anyone or any company to start or approve that change. We can be that change by providing fresh new perspectives and examples with something as simple as a video on a social media platform.
I also hope to show that fashion and styling is a wonderful way of creative self-expression and that you can make it accessible if you understand the knowledge, creativity, and adaptability behind it.
Tik Tok: @oscarvonmemerty