Wade Jeffree is an Australian-born designer who now lives in New York with his wife and partner, Leta Sobierajski. He’s also an anime enthusiast, a not-so-lowkey fashionista, and the maker of some pretty incredible things.
Design aside, you can always count on Wade’s Instagram for some photos from his latest travels — so we decided to chat with him about the biggest journey of his life, moving halfway across the globe.
Born: PANCH Hospital, Kingsbury, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
First crush: Kirsten Dunst (still crushing)
Favorite food: Avocado Steaks (something we learned in Japan)
Favorite cartoon: Oh man, so many — Beast Wars!
Favorite character: Vegeta from DBZ
[The idea of home] is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I am turning 30 in March, and have been away from Aus for over 5 years now. I love where I am from and what it taught me, but I had always wondered if there was more; the second I got into New York I knew.
The pace, the connectivity, the crazy, the dirty, all the things had me hooked. Are there things that can bother me? Yes, of course, that happens with everything — without bad there is no good. But man, I fucking love it here.
Without moving, I would not be anything like the person I am today. I opened up my mind to a way of thinking and way of life that I would not have if I’d stayed in Australia. Moving away from what you consider home is especially amazing if you have no bearings or friends. I knew no one when I moved here and had to really make moves to connect with others.
The road trip also exposed to me to the thing we seem to not concentrate enough on: how to be truthful to my happiness. Many attribute happiness to success, but as soon as I got to New York I was true to myself, and made my life learning and exposing myself to the city. I sold shoes at Nike on 5th Ave for 6 months!
I made friends, I got the chance to explore the city in a new light, and didn’t have the stress of an everyday job — but then, I got an email I never thought I would, which ended up being an opportunity for my dream job. I guess the rest is history.
The job with Sagmeister & Walsh gave me the best thing I could ask for: it allowed me to live and love in New York! I will forever hold those two and a half years dear to my heart — they truly changed me for the very best.
To answer the question, home is where you feel at peace. Where you couldn’t think of not being. It’s what just feel right.
Home is where you feel at peace — where you couldn’t think of not being.
It’s no surprise that Leta and I have a fondness for Japan, and anime is certainly what opened up both of our eyes to it as kids. I visited for the first time when I was 19 and fell in love with it, but didn’t get a chance to go back for a while because of moving to America. Then I met Leta and, well, we’ve been obsessed ever since!
Where do I begin with what I love about Japan? Some of the more top line things would be the quiet, quaint, politeness and calming nature of the people and surroundings that always steal our hearts.
The attention to detail is unbelievable as well — from someone cleaning tiles on a building with a toothbrush, to the way a receipt is presented. It never ceases to amaze me.
Our trips to Tokyo now generally involve going to the apartment we always stay at, then heading straight to our favorite restaurant for some unfiltered sake and delicious food.
I’ve been vegan for 16 years, and have had to deal with the pressures of finding food in so many places and have come to one conclusion: just ask people! I am also a coeliac — long story. So I’ve got two tough things to cater to, but they are also the reason why I can ask many questions about what I am eating and get more excited about it.
That said, doing research ahead of time is very important. I bring cards that have my restrictions written out in the native tongue, and also try to learn (in most cases horribly) the saying or terms I need, but the card is a more consistent option as it saves any potential for things getting lost in translation, and in most cases it gives the kitchen an opportunity to make something new!
I love that it’s like a little challenge, and I get something completely new and not on the menu, as it exposes my palate and the relationship with the food to the location. Some of my favorite meals I’ve ever eaten have been because of this, doing this at some place like an izakaya in Japan. Skewer-eating is the best! It’s very personal, delicious and you can get drunk! We are big natural wine lovers as well and it’s a very similar experience — but maybe that’s another story.
The attention to detail [in Japan] is unbelievable. It never ceases to amaze me.
As soon as I land in a new city, the first thing I do is get to my Airbnb, freshen up, change my undies and get straight into it! I’ve always found the best way to counteract the inevitable jet lag is to tire yourself out even more so you can knock yourself out at night.
I’m actually writing this whilst on a flight from Australia to Tasmania. So as you can imagine, I would have had to fly from NYC to Aus (Melbourne) — that’s a loooong flight and you need to do everything humanly possible to avoid the jet lag. I arrived at 9am after 24hrs in transit, so coffee, coffee and more coffee was a must.
Travelling as a freelancer, it can be hard to balance work/life. It’s always a mix to be honest. On our last visit to Japan, we were away for just under a month. That’s a long time to be away from work, but we were just honest with our existing clients, and the ones we were about to engage with, about the timing and they were amazing and happy to wait — a luxury no doubt!
When that isn’t the case though, like at this very moment where I am, writing on a plane is the best. Being ready to jam at a moment’s notice, I also wake up quite early so I can get a lot done (emails, lists and some design). I love being on the clock and having to really push in a restrained amount of time because then you have that sense of accomplishment, and you’re ready to take on the day without a cloud hanging over your head — unless, of course, you actually are on a plane at the time.