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Interview with Fashion.Elitist

Fashion and social media have coincided with each other for a long time now. Nowadays, we can all say that we have seen some form of fashion content on some social media platform. The fashion community has become much more accessible for people just because of how widespread it is over social media. Some content creators give their followers items to buy, tips on what to wear, or show off the fits they’ve put together. Most creators show off the pieces that they have, but don’t go into to detail as to why they work with other items, or why you should invest your money into the pieces. That’s what fashion.elitist (FE) does so well. He gives his followers in depth detail as to why you should invest your money into a piece, as well as gives amazing tips on a number of things. He gives his followers an outlet to find their styles and learn how to incorporate different kinds of pieces into their wardrobe. He has generated a following of 86,000 people, so he must be doing something right. Read on to find out the answers he has to my (OM) many questions, and also his views about fashion in general, social media, high fashion, and so much more.

OM: What is fashion to you?

FE: People need to understand that there’s a few key characteristics: First, fashion is a first world problem, but the main premise around fashion is about self-expression. A lot pf people get confused within the premise of “I’m searching for validation and so I should dress like that because I’m a little bit too uncomfortable to dress how I want to.” Or there’s a lot of people who say, “I don’t know how to find my style, so I’ll start dressing in trends.” But that limits your mindset in a sense because you get so situated with feeling great because you know everyone likes this. We have this huge ordeal in society where trends are put up on pedestals now everyone accumulatively thinks “this is a good style” or “men dressing like this is the epitome of fashion”. So, when people go into that aesthetic, they get so comfortable with feeling, “I can leave the house and everyone’s going to objectively like this.” When you’re trying to find your style, there’s a lot of experimenting and confusion because there’s going to be a lot of mixed reviews. Maybe your friends won’t like it, maybe a group of people just don’t like that style, but if you go out with a trendier way of thinking, the likelihood of your friends and people accepting become greater. I learned from my friend, Kay, who loves Yoji Yammamoto, that his whole line attempts to get rid of the male gaze in a lot of silhouettes. Obviously, that’s a great thing to have, but designers have different reasons for what they make. So again, that’s them expressing how they feel and/or maybe how they think in the pieces that they create.

OM: In my area, it’s a really small town; I only graduated with about 80 other kids in my class, so expressing yourself was very limited.

FE: That brings up a great point! A lot of people will say for example, “well I live in Texas,” or “I live in a small town” where if you dress any different how everyone else is, you’ll get ostracized. Obviously, you don’t want that, because the society that you have there is so small. Unfortunately, I understand, when people do have to dress a certain way in order to fit in. The amount of self-expression there is very very limited, unless you want to be casted out. For me and a lot of other people who live in L.A., it’s a huge town, and no one knows each other, so there’s a lot more self-expression. But, like you said, 80 kids in a graduating class that’s crazy! like I had over 1,000 kids in my class.

OM: That’s crazy to me! In my High School, you can walk down the hallways and name every person you saw. It’s just such a small community, and for the longest time, I wouldn’t express myself in my clothing a lot, just because no one wanted to go out of their comfort zone, but eventually I started wearing whatever I wanted. Would you say your location allowed you to get into fashion easier?

FE: before quarantine, people were advocating for expressing yourself and being authentic. But when I was in High School, in 2015, what I remember is I would mostly dress in a very skate like, because I used to skate a lot, until senior year when I started weightlifting, so I went into the whole meathead way of dressing. I was sticking to the aesthetic of what people would assume you dress like, but after High school, I didn’t feel comfortable in what I was wearing, and felt odd. I would see a lot of Korean and Japanese streetwear, which is what I was inspired by. They inspired me to try and dress out of comfort zone. When I was styling myself, I didn’t have a sense of where to buy pieces and how to dress, so it was a bit difficult, so I researched a lot. I would go on YouTube and Instagram, and you end up finding a lot of the people who post “styling videos”, but they never have a core substance. What they say is, “here’s a pair of pants you need to buy, and just put them on and you’re good!” Or they’ll say, “this is how I dress: where green pants with black shirts and some doc martins and you’re good!” That was how they would dress. It wasn’t teaching me how to put things together and what I need to think about. I am more of an analytical type of person, where I need an example or explanation as to why things are happening, like an equation. These people had the answers, but there was no explanation on how they got to that place. A lot of these influencers think one-dimensionally, because they’ve been doing it for so long that now it’s hard to explain to someone who has no prior knowledge to it. With a lot of people, they would say, “Oh I thought you knew about textures? Everyone knows that.” In reality, not everyone knows the things they know. A lot of people have a small amount of knowledge when it comes to fashion sometimes. I was one of those people, so I had to end up doing everything alone. I would research through fashion forums. I would do a lot of experimenting with my own style. YouTubers gave me ideas to analyze why they dress in certain ways. I would ask myself, “Why do the clothes look good on their body, and not my own?” I had to figure out my silhouette, how my body works, and what type of clothing fits me. It took a long time until I started getting serious about everything, and I started a plan to save up $1,000 to put into sustainable brands that I need to buy from, but wait for sales as well. A lot of people think that I but my pieces firsthand, but in actuality, I always buy second hand or through sales. I only buy firsthand if the piece isn’t over $200, but that’s still a lot of money to drop on a piece of clothing. I was patient as well. A lot of people don’t have patience when it comes to fashion. But that’s not how it works, you have to be patient, you have to wait for sales, and you have to buy knowing that the piece is going to last you a long time, not something you buy out of nowhere. Your club preaches sustainability, a lot of people don’t think like that. They have this mindset that, “consumers want” and “the more you purchase, the better the outcome”, when in reality, you’ll buy five shirts for fifty bucks for a deal, and you don’t end up wearing all five of those shirts. But if you invest all your money into one item, you have to think to yourself, “Is this worth buying?”, “Is this something I can see myself wearing consistently?” etc. There’s a lot of questions you have to pose.

OM: That’s what I’ve learned over the past couple of years. Fashion has a lot of trial and error. You can’t keep yourself in this confined space where you only buy the things that are seen, and everyone is wearing. Instead, you should at least try new things. You just have to go out and do it.

So, you’re a fashion TikToker, so let’s separate those terms. So, in fashion, what do you think some essential items that you believe any person that wants to get into fashion should have?

FE: Everyone needs pants. Finding a good pair of pants, makes building an outfit much easier, as well as a good pair of shoes. One chunky shoe, and a nice slim shoe like a doc’ martin. I think an essential is something you can wear consistently without people noticing it. If you find a piece that suits you very well, try working around it by layering it. Tote bags are also becoming popular, but actually use it. A lot of people just use it for the aesthetic and trend, but it’s made to be used. But if I were to list four things they would be: a good shoe, a good pair of pants (emphasis on the pants because its pretty difficult to find a pair of pants that fit well and look good), a good shirt, and last but not least, a jacket or hoodie.

OM: You mentioned the tote bag, and how people buy it for the aesthetic more so than the actual purpose, how do you feel about buying items just to follow the trends? One example would be the Travis Scott AirForce One’s where people just hold them instead of actually using them.

FE: I’m guilty of that too. I have a pair of Witherspoons and never wear them. I can resonate with people, because if you have a shoe and the market price rises, they’re a bit scared to put on the shoe because it’s so expensive now. But, if you spent retail price on them, there shouldn’t be much holding you back if you actually like it and want to wear it. Why store it and put it on a shelf to be displayed? I know people have collections, but shoes are meant to be worn. I don’t understand the whole, “Don’t crease your Joradans!” If you baby your shoes, the interest value is taken away. Every person has a different way of walking, so one person’s broken in shoe may look different than someone else’s. I understand, if you spend $1,000 on a pair of shoes, I understand if there’s a little hesitation to put them on. What I would say to that is, if you have that hesitation of using the shoe, then why did you buy it? Now all that money you spent could’ve been used elsewhere. I feel like the shoe loses its value, not at its price point, but you wasted your money because it doesn’t accumulate anything in your wardrobe. But if you have money to spend on it, then it’s understandable.

OM: I feel like a part of the fashion community has been turned into a sort of stock market, because people are buying items and holding them to let the price raise. The see trends and invest them, instead of wearing the clothes. So, what trends do you see taking off, for the people that don’t want the stockbrokers of the fashion world to buy soon?

FE: I don’t particularly care much about trends, or do I try to envision what’s going to take off, but I have noticed that trends are like a phoenix; they’re bright and beautiful everyone notices it, until it dies and gets resurrected into something else. It’s a repeating cycle. What I have seen is that it started out as vintage and has now moved to workwear. But now, I’m seeing a lot of Y2K, mostly in women. And oddly enough, the whole Hello Kitty thing as well. For men, its looking like it’s taking a step toward archival fashion, but I think guys are seeing the prices and straying away from it. A lot of Chromehearts, Rick Owens, and NO. 9. Again, the price points are keeping people away and make them hesitate. There’s also a lot of gatekeeping too. I’ll tell people where I get the clothing, but I know it’s unlikely that someone actually goes out and buys it.

OM: Going back to High Fashion, like you said, the price point keeps the people away, but would you suggest people to invest in it, or at least give it a shot? Or, if not, what would be an option you would provide for someone that doesn’t want to get into it?

FE: I think anyone can get into high fashion. I think it takes a lot of patience and I would say it’s a very huge haggling market. I wouldn’t recommend that people spend their money on firsthand clothing. But it’s more fun if you go on grailed, or eBay, or even Instagram, where you have to haggle the price down and try to get the best price. I get a lot of stuff for a low price, but people don’t know how to negotiate. Or are nervous to even ask if a person can lower their price. But you should give it a shot because these people don’t know who you are, you aren’t seeing them in person, so at least give it a try. Another option is waiting for sales. Sales come in handy. You have to think longevity as well. So, when you’re out buying, think about if a piece can fit in you wardrobe. I would say invest in second hand and sale.

OM: If you had to give advice to people who are in their shell when it comes to fashion, what would you say to get them to go out and actually do it?

FE: I’m going to say this: I think it depends on where you’re at. For example, you, since you were in a small graduating class of 80 people, wait, because it’s not worth getting cut off by that many people, but if you’re in a more stable environment, where you can’t get hurt by others, then go out and try incorporating one experimental item. As you feel more comfortable, start adding more pieces that are like that. Easing into it helps a lot. You have to be consistent too. Wear small items and work up to bigger items. Where smaller items and see how people react to it. Get to a point up until people start questioning it, just so you have that expression, but aren’t getting exiled at the same time.

OM: I learned that if a lot of people don’t necessarily feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, their judgement shouldn’t matter. If they don’t like it, find a crowd who does. Surround yourself with like minded people.

Moving on to social media, you’ve obviously had exponential growth over the past couple of years, but what was your reason for choosing TikTok as the platform to make content on?

FE: I’ve always wanted to make videos of expressing my knowledge for people like me when I was just starting out, because I know how lack-luster and how bad fashion content is on social media. I got pushed to download TikTok, and as I started scrolling, I began to see a lot of trash. Nothing would even help me or others, and I would see people praising this content. I would think, “This isn’t helping anybody, its maybe telling you wear to buy clothes” but it’s all the same. There is so many things that people don’t have knowledge about, that I do have. So, I decided to put it out there for people to learn or even try something different out. Instagram sucked because it was harder to push anything. I didn’t think I would gain a following, but over time, I started gaining one. I am happy to provide information that helps at least one person. I was tired of seeing a lot of content that show off their style, or copying and pasting outfits, and instead I am trying to at least build some type of foundation or gain some type of knowledge. I want to encourage people to take a step into fashion. I am glad to have a community to help out.

OM: What I think makes people gravitate towards your content is the level detail you go into about things. From your own perspective, why do you think you have gained a following? What do you think makes your videos so special?

FE: I definitely think it’s the monotone voice. In commentating, having a neutral voice helps out a lot. There’s that, and I go into a lot of detail about the topics I cover. I give substance in what I cover. I’m not just shoving a pair of pants in your face and saying that “these are cool, buy them.” Instead, I go into detail as to why they’re good for a person. I have to persuade people to buy them, not just say they’re nice. I ask myself, “What can I say to make people think this is a product they should invest in?”

OM: When researching your videos, the “363 Tips” series stood out to me the most. First, I don’t know how you have 363 tips to begin with. But what was your purpose when starting the series? Where do you want to end up taking it?

FE: It was to challenge myself pretty much. I feel like there’s a lot of things to cover. I honestly don’t think I can get all 363. I used it as a motivator and to make me feel like there’s no stopping point. I’m 36 in, but there’s a long way to go. I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to make it the whole way, maybe to 150, but we’ll see.

OM: The “Connected Outfit Theory” is the video that blew up. Why do you think people found it so engaging?

FE: I had come up with the theory in a video in November and it got 250,000 views in it. I didn’t go into a lot of detail. I made a second video explain a little bit of what I was talking about, and I left it alone. Come December, I felt like I needed to explain it more and better. I would say there are two reasons why it blew up: one, the theory in general; and two, I put this second in the video where I said, “I’m Being Held Hostage”. It was a joke about Corona and me being stuck at home, but a lot of people actually believed me. Basically, the pants are the center force of what makes an outfit disconnected or connected. The theory helps people use terminology to identify something very specific.

OM: As we all know, people blow up on the app a lot. In the fashion world specifically or TikTok in general, how would you explain to a person how to blow up on the app?

FE: I’ve noticed that the fast, funny, or really random trends the most. Right now, in the algorithm, small creators aren’t being pushed as much, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to blow up now. Also, the algorithm is really random with what videos it chooses to push out. Again, the question is, “How do I hook this small attention span and give them a reason to watch the video?” Having a niche helps out a lot as well.

OM: You have this platform now, what do you want to do with it? Do you plans on venturing over to YouTube? Or do you plan on creating your own fashion line? What are your plans for the future that we can expect?

FE: I do want to move to YouTube at some point, but I don’t think I’m big enough yet. But interestingly enough, I am creating a brand called “Patient: 0” with my co-designer and friend Kay, who goes to Parson’s, a pattern maker, and a seamstress. We both co-designed a piece that we’re currently working on, and we’re almost done with it. Hopefully by the end of this month we’ll have a final piece done. We’re still working on the website and things like that, and a lot of my following does know that I’m creating a brand the brand is focused on sustainability and creativity. When we say, “We’re making brand” people think, Gildan t-shirt and a crappy screen-printed design on it for thirty bucks. No, this is cut and sewn, making patterns and actually having a blueprint of how it’s going to look on the body. We’re sourcing our materials from Deadstock Designer. Really high-quality stuff, so we’re trying to make a luxury brand.

OM: What aspects do you plan to pull from when you make the piece and the business model, you’re going to be putting out with it?

FE: The main focus on each piece is on the finer details. We want to bridge the gap between allowing people to wear this piece, and also let them not be afraid to get into it. That’s what I really want for the brand. I want people to think, “That’s really cool, but it’s not too much of a statement piece.” A lot of the time I like pieces, but I hesitate because they seem to be too much of a statement piece for me. I want people to be able to experiment with this. We also want to crate aventail pieces for those people who are really confident in what they are wearing.

OM: I like the message that you are trying to bridge the gap, because there are a lot of people out there intimidated by high fashion. Streetwear and high fashion are on two completely different levels, so it’s extremely hard to connect them. Do you plan on making only one piece, or do you plan on presenting a whole entire line?

FE: I do have my co-designer here with me so she can also speak to this. We hope to make lines, to introduce new dimensions to things. It is difficult since we are so new into doing it. We still have to figure some things out.

KAY: Absolutely, we want to make more. We have had designs, but we initially designed for our piece that’s hopefully coming out soon, it was one of three or four. We chose one piece to focus on primarily for the time being, but there’s a lot of things that are holding us back right now. The time isn’t right at the moment to invest in, because we don’t know if our market is going to accept our idea.

OM: Just reiterate, what was the name of your brand?

FE: Patient: 0

OM: Just to end things off, if there’s anything you want to plug, now would be the time to do so.

FE: My Instagram and TikTok are both “fashion.elitist .” If you follow me on Instagram, I will be showcasing the piece on there as well as on TikTok. I’ll be plugging the Patient: 0 page as well, so be on the lookout for that too.

Written By: Owen Myers

Edited By: Crystal Lord

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