Gemma Cowling Snags a Toni & Guy campaign

Donald Trump may have just drawn the curtain on transgendered troops in the US military, but Toni & Guy is championing gender diversity

The Australian arm of British hairdressing company Toni & Guy has signed Australian model Gemma Cowling for its new You Define You campaign.

The 20 year-old from Adelaide is the face of the new social, digital and outdoor campaign that features three looks created with Toni & Guy products: a half up/half down style called The Chic You; a wavy faux undercut called The Glam You; and a more dramatic, graphic look with a centre parting called The Slick You.

Created by J Walter Thompson Australia, the six month brand campaign bows on August 7 on Toni & Guy’s Australian and New Zealand Instagram and Facebook accounts, with a video due to roll out on the same day as pre-roll advertising on YouTube. In New Zealand, the campaign will be supplemented with an outdoor poster campaign across Auckland.

Cowling is of course not just another upwardly-mobile Australian model, but a poster girl for gender fluidity.

From the moment she was signed to the women’s board of Adelaide’s Azalea Models in April 2016, Cowling has been promoted as the first Australian-born transgender model.

Presumably that’s to distinguish her from trans trailblazer¬†Andreja Pejic, one of Australia’s most celebrated modelling exports and indeed, now one of the world’s most high profile trans celebrities.

Pejic was not born in Australia, but arrived as a child refugee. Prior to the very public announcement of her gender confirmation surgery in early 2014, at which point she switched to the women’s boards at her respective modelling agencies, Pejic began her modelling career as Andrej Pejic and was originally signed to the agencies’ men’s boards and modelled menswear as well as womenswear.

Cowling, who transitioned shortly after leaving high school, has appeared on the runways of the 2016 Adelaide Fashion Festival and this year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. At the latter she walked in shows such as Akira, Zhivago, Christopher Esber and Karla Septic.

A beauty campaign is a great get for any model, notably a newcomer and will serve to further elevate Cowling’s profile.

“There is nothing more important than expressing who you truly are, working with Toni & Guy on the You Define You campaign has been really empowering’ said Cowling. “I think it’s so impressive that Toni & Guy have embraced the diversity of modern women with the You Define You campaign. I hope everyone feels as confident as I do rocking these three looks”.

In its publicity materials for the youth-skewed campaign, Toni & Guy Australia cites the findings of two international youth marketing reports.

According to the Pew Research ‘Millennials in Adulthood’ report published in February 2014, just 40 percent of “millennials” identify with the term or consider themselves part of the millennial generation, actively shunning the stereotype. While The Innovation Group’s ‘Study of Youth Attitudes Towards Gender’, published in March 2016, reported that 56 percent of 13-21 year-olds said they knew someone who went by gender neutral pronouns such as “they”, “them” or “ze”, compared to 43 percent of 28-34 year olds. Additionally, over a third of Gen Z respondents also strongly agreed that gender did not define a person as much as it used to.

You could say that the Toni & Guy brand has been working at breaking down gender divisions since the get go.

Founded by brothers Toni and Guy Mascolo in 1963 with a single salon in Clapham, London, the duo eschewed¬†traditionally segregated women’s hair salons and men’s barber shops to offer an at-the-time revolutionary unisex service.¬†Today there are over 485 Toni & Guy salons in 48 countries.

“At Toni & Guy we believe nothing should get in the way of you defining yourself, your way” said Toni & Guy Australia marketing manager Anshika Grover. “Gemma embodies that confidence and we are excited to be launching this campaign with a local Australian model to showcase the versatility of our products”.