Belfast Telegraph

Judge me for who I am and not what dad did, says UDA chief Johnny Adair’s fashion blogger daughter who’s gained over 67,000 followers

 

Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
Chloe as a baby in a 1998 family picture with mum Gina, sister Natalie and brother Jonathan
Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
An Instagram image of Chloe all smiles with father Johnny
Chloe with brother Jonathan, who died of a drugs overdose in 2016
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

She is an up-and-coming social media influencer and fashionista with tens of thousands of devoted followers.

Chloe Adair also happens to be the daughter of notorious UDA godfather Johnny Adair, who fled Northern Ireland during a bitter loyalist feud and is now living in exile in Scotland.

The 27-year-old is not ashamed of being the offspring of the fearsome former paramilitary boss nicknamed 'Mad Dog' - whom she describes as "the most kind and strongest person I know, one in a million" - and often posts pictures of him, and her equally formidable mum, Gina, on social media.

But Chloe is determined not to allow her burgeoning career to be constrained by family ties - and to make her own name in the glamorous world of fashion.

"What my parents did is different to me," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"What I'm doing now is solely me. It's nothing to do with my family. It's not my past, it's my parents' past. It doesn't define me.

"People know who I am, but I'm my own person. What my parents did in the past isn't me. A lot of people and a lot of my followers judge me for me, not family and not anything that may have happened in the past."

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She added: "Personally, I don't feel like I have a past. That's not me. It would be different if I actually had a past myself but I don't. I've got my whole life ahead of me and I'm looking to the future."

Chloe's chic credentials are clearly not in question - a contributor to this newspaper's Fashion Spy section recently described the Shankill-born influencer as a "fashion icon" because she is "so stylish".

She has already amassed 67,100 followers on the social media platform Instagram, where she has shared over 1,600 posts despite being a relative newbie in the wonderful world of trend-setting.

After admitting she is "thrilled" to have been singled out on the streets of her home city for her stand-out style, Bolton-based Chloe revealed how she evolved into her current role.

"I've always loved fashion...always had my own wee style," she said.

"For years and years when I got money from my mummy or daddy, I saved it to buy jeans or a wee top so it's always been something I've been interested in.

"About two years ago, when I started my own Instagram account, I used to post pictures of what I was wearing, not with the intention to ever be an influencer, but if I got new shoes or a bag I would post them and my friends would leave comments like 'I love your shoes' or 'I love your outfit' and things like that.

"I gradually started to gain followers but never really thought anything of it, it was just something I really enjoyed doing."

She added: "Last April a small boutique (Love Lee UK) messaged me and asked me to promote a dress for them and I actually couldn't believe it!

"I remember doing that and I was over the moon having got sent a free dress."

That proved to be the turning point for Chloe, whose 5,000 followers back then has mushroomed to over 67,100 today. She started getting sent clothing on a regular basis which she then "styled it up the way I would wear it" and "people just seemed to like it".

Chloe admitted that she likes to look "nice", but said she doesn't have a particular style, adding: "One day I could be all dolled up in my high heels and a dress and the day after you could see me in my trainers and cycling shorts."

Her popularity soon soared and the Co Antrim woman has since found both a natural niche and a faithful following.

More and more labels started "sending me stuff" and "bit by bit it started to grow" and she now has an impressive portfolio that includes leading brands JD Sports, Pretty Little Thing, In the Style and Boohoo.

"I actually cried when JD Sports messaged me," she revealed.

"I'd shopped there for years and years and years. I always saved up to buy my Nike trainers in JD. I couldn't believe they'd messaged me to want to work with me."

As a result of her Instagram success, Chloe ditched her £18,000-a-year job as a PA in an architect's office to concentrate on the demands of being a social media influencer - and the worldwide travelling that goes with it.

"It was an office full of men, not glamorous at all, and nothing like what I'm like at all - I'm bubbly, I want to speak about makeup and fashion and clothes," she said.

"It was only in March this year I decided to leave my job and just go for it."

Although she said she can't put a figure on what she is earning now, she is sure she is "doing better than I was" and it helps that she is in her "dream job" and she gets free clothes into the bargain.

"It's just my passion," she said. "I never had this goal that I wanted to work in fashion but I just knew something would come up. Now I have fire in my belly. I don't feel like I'm working because I'm going to these events and meeting these amazing people and wearing these clothes. It's crazy."

She added: "I used to look at all these influencers and wonder how they could make money from that.

"I was so confused by it. But now I know how it works."

Looking back, Chloe said her life took a different turn when her sister Natalie bought her a ticket to attend a masterclass in Belfast with Dublin influencer Rosie Connolly.

"From that, it gave me the spark to do it because I compared myself to Rosie and thought if she can do it I can do it; she was a normal girl, really down to earth, never set out to do this as a job but it came to her," she said.

Chloe met her English fiance Matthew Davies (28), who works in the oil and gas industry, at school when she moved to England after fleeing Belfast a decade and a half ago with the rest of the family "when I was about 12".

She refers to him as "my childhood sweetheart and one true love" in photos that she has shared of the two of them on her Instagram account, but there are no wedding bells ringing just yet.

"I know I'm going to be with him forever, we know it will happen, but for now we're just enjoying life," she admitted.

"But I think I'd like to get married by the time I'm 30. We haven't actually set a date yet."

Describing her other half as "so supportive", Chloe revealed how he had also helped her make one of her dreams become a reality by ensuring she has a place to showcase her outfits in the home they share.

"He's the one person who's pushed me to do this because he's seen that it was my passion and that it was making me happy," she said.

"He paid for my dressing room for Christmas. It was the best present ever."

For the moment Chloe's plan is "to ride it out and enjoy the present", but she added that "one day I might like to start my own fashion brand in years to come".

She stressed: "I'd like to do something really unique. Something I can put my own name to and develop myself."

It helps that her parents - who divorced in 2003 - "are so supportive" of her career choice.

"At the start they weren't against it exactly... but they didn't really understand it - they didn't actually realise I could make a career from it," she said.

"Then they saw how happy it was making me and how well I was doing.

"When I left full time work to concentrate on fashion they told me to go for it.

"My sister has been one of the biggest supporters too. She's my number one fan."

When asked if she feared her father's violent past will affect her career, Chloe said she is her own person and she wants her followers to know her for who she is and not who she is related to.

Photos posted by Chloe on her Instagram page nevertheless show that she is very close to her whole family including her dad, who served a lengthy prison sentence for directing UDA terrorism and who remains a big name in loyalism, especially in the Shankill Road area of Belfast.

Beside one image of the two of them dated June 18, 2017, the former office worker said: "Happy Fathers Day to my Dad - the most kind and strongest person I know! One in a million."

There is also a picture featuring Chloe with Gina, who now uses her maiden name, Crossan, apparently taken on Mother's Day last year, in which she describes her mum as "the queen of our family - the strongest woman I know".

She added: "You truly are the glue that holds us all together Mum even in the hardest times. Don't know what I would ever do without you - I'm so lucky to have you as mine.

"Love you more than you could ever imagine."

Poignantly, Chloe has also shared a photo on Instagram of her embracing her 32-year-old brother Jonathan, who died of a drugs overdose in 2016.

"Happy Birthday to my beautiful big brother on your first birthday in heaven," she said.

"If only we could have you back for one more day to see that beautiful smile again. Party up there with the angels Jonathan we miss you so so much."

It is clear Chloe wants the Adair name to become synonymous with style and fashion, and not the lurid tabloid headlines that have peppered the last two decades in Northern Ireland.

In that respect, she has made a promising start.

Belfast Telegraph

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