A lot of athletes struggle with that phase of their life.
Tom Derickx embodies what it means to be a modern Australian man. He surfs, loves sports, plays music, works as a carpenter, prefers going barefoot, puts his family and his mates first, worships at the altar of David Bowie and Dave Grohl, and has a sensitive side he isn't afraid to show.
Hailing from the small coastal town of Dunsborough, south of Perth, the 32-year-old David Jones and R U OK? ambassador is best known for his tenure as an AFL player for Richmond Tigers and Sydney Swans. At the end of 2016, plagued by injuries, Derickx gave up sport for his other love, music. "I always loved music," he says Derickx. "When I was finishing up with the Swans, I started [the band] Kayex with my mate [Palassi Kailis]. We were just writing to take my mind off football a bit."
The electronic-pop-dance project sits somewhere in the realm of the vocal pop you might hear on LA radio: chilled beats with surf-inspired ambience. Think The Chainsmokers meets Miami Horror. "Palassi produces hip hop music, and I was into dance, so it's a combination of the two. We released a song, and it was pretty niche, but it turned a few heads and that gave us a bit of encouragement to keep writing and keep releasing music."
For Derickx, music replaced the adrenaline hit he lost after AFL. "A lot of athletes struggle with that phase of their life, where they go from running out in front of big crowds and having to perform, to just normal jobs," he says. "I'm lucky that performing live is like playing a football game." He laughs, "I mean I'm not playing in front of big crowds and it's just the two of us up there, but still."
Derickx has been open about his struggle with depression and the stigma he's felt from standing 6 foot 7 inches tall. "I find that vulnerability … encourages my friends to open up to me. It was really hard for me to talk about [my demons], but now I know how impactful it is."
Derickx has found success as a model, and became the face of David Jones' menswear collections in 2019. With the recent opening of two new menswear floors at the department store's Elizabeth Street flagship in Sydney, it's clear DJs are backing him to inspire a new generation of male shoppers.
As he slips in and out of the trends for the next season on our shoot, moving from a double-breasted Hugo Boss suit, to all-black Kenzo rain jacket, I wonder if he thinks Australian men have been misrepresented in fashion. "A lot of Aussie guys are big into style, even if they don't want to admit it," he says. "There's a bit of a stigma about getting dressed up. But I think men are becoming unashamed to push the boundaries. Look at me! A country boy, footballer and a builder, but then I'm pumping out high-end fashion looks and expressing myself." He laughs, "I hope it can be like, 'Oh, Tom can do it, and we can all have a go at it.'"
Check out the gallery above to see Tom rocking some of this season's must-have menswear looks from David Jones.
Styling: Kim Jones
Grooming: Heidi King
David Jones new menswear department is open now at Sydney's Elizabeth Street store. Visit davidjones.com.au.