Interview: Kyle Anderson on Starting Out in the Fashion Industry
Kyle Anderson didn’t let growing up in a small suburban town get in the way of his dream of working in fashion. Interning at magazines like Vogue and Esquire, Kyle found his home at Elle Magazine six years ago. Daniel Haim has a chat with Kyle as he talks about his early adventures in the big city, the must have items of the year, his favorite designers, and why a Birkin is longterm investment in your future.
Daniel: I had a great time getting to know you at dinner last week and I must say I am so intrigued by your talent and want to share your story with the world. Tell us about yourself- where did all of this begin?
Kyle: Actually, I knew even in kindergarten, that I wanted to work in fashion. I was obsessed with clothes. My best friend and next door neighbor growing up had a mom who was obsessed with shopping and for vacation and weekends we would do nothing but go to malls and look at clothes, buy magazines and talk about designers. I grew up in a small suburban town, but in our minds we were really connected to what was going on in fashion.
Whenever my parents asked me what toy I wanted I would only want clothes. When I was in middle school, I’d go to the public library after school and read magazines like W, ELLE and Vogue and at that time I remember I was obsessed with the huge over sized ads in W and would ask my parents to buy the magazine for me so I could rip out the Chanel ads. I was really crazy about Chanel.
In high school, I thought maybe I wanted to be a fashion designer. In college I studied international business and finance, but wanted to quit to go to FIT. My parents talked me into staying and getting my business degree but immediately after graduating I moved to NYC and started interning at Esquire the day after I graduated. I also started taking classes for fun at FIT. Right away I knew I didn’t want to be a designer, and by the end of my first day of my internship I was obsessed with getting a job at a magazine. I interned at all different types of magazines. Esquire, COSMOgirl, Marie Claire, Vogue and ELLE. When I started interning at ELLE I remember thinking I don’t care how long it takes to intern – even if I have to work here 3 years unpaid, I’d rather be doing this than anything else in the world. The people who worked at ELLE seemed so cool to me. A group of people who really had good taste and had such an intense passion for finding cool things. I knew that this was the place I was meant to be. They were on the cutting edge of what were the newest, coolest, chicest clothing and accessories.
One day I was asked to do freelance work for ELLE. I couldn’t have been happier. It was supposed to be for 90 days. After a week our fashion director, a woman who has been the biggest influencer and supporter in my life, called me into her office and said, ” shut the door and sit down”. She said “I’m hiring you today.” It was a moment that really changed the rest of my life. That was 6 years ago and I’m still at Elle.
Daniel: Do you design your own clothes as well?
Kyle: When I was in high school, my best friend and I would try to re-make some clothes into something crazy. It usually didn’t work out and we ended up junking them, but it was fun and exciting in the process. These days I don’t try to make anything. But I am interested in designing some kind of accessories some day. I’m not that interested in RTW (Ready To Wear). For me accessories are everything.
Daniel: What are some brands that have been catching your attention lately. Let’s say, something that you’ve been dying to have from the accessory world and that’s very expensive!
Kyle: Right now I’m really into Black. I love the sexy boots on the Louis Vuitton, Mcqueen, Trussari runways. All strappy and bondage inspired. For handbags, again I love the black Louis Vuitton bag in shiny croc with a diamante handcuff attached.
But, I always tell people to invest in a few expensive accessories and wear them all the time: a black bag (either a quilted Chanel or Hermes Birkin), black pumps from someone like Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo or Christian Louboutin, and an expensive watch.
For me it doesn’t matter what brands your clothes are. You can wear mass market brands like Zara, Top Shop or H&M, but invest in those few really classic expensive accessories and wear them all the time. You can wear a black Birkin bag from now until you die. It will never go out of style. The same with something like a Rolex or a Cartier watch. You can literally wear it every day of your life.
My favorite brands for bags are Chanel or Hermes. For watches, it’s Rolex or Cartier. Shoes, Giuseppe Zanotti and Christian Louboutin. In fine jewelry, it’s Cartier, Bulgari, and Solange. As for costume jewelry, Alexis Bittar or Pamela Love. And for belts, Azzedine Alaia and YSL.
Daniel: Any tattoos?
Daniel: Do you have any favorite designers?
Kyle: I love Balmain. But I’m also a big fan of Givenchy, Alexander Wang, Proenza, and Chanel.
Daniel: Name your favorite young designer that you think will be the next big thing.
Kyle: I’m not sure if you can still call Alexander Wang a “new young designer”, but the fan base he has and the following he has gotten from young fashion lovers, as well as the rate at which he is expanding (internationally and a FULL menswear collection launching next season including mens accessories and runway) is amazing. I don’t know anyone that isn’t a fan of his. He could and will be the next Ralph Lauren or Michael Kors, for sure, with an empire. His clothes are cool, fresh, young, wearable and well priced.
Daniel: What is in your opinion the ‘item’ (must-have item) of the year?
Kyle: Maybe a Celine bag. All of the fashion girls and some of the fashion gays carry them. I like the one in all black leather with zipper trim.
Daniel: What is your favorite quote?
Kyle: “This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”
Daniel: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Kyle: Chocolate. Everyone says that but I’m really addicted to things like candy bars and chocolate ice cream. I could never give it up.
Daniel: What’s your obsession?
Kyle: Balmain. I talk about it all the time. I buy almost anything that is Balmain. But I’m not sure for next season, with the change in designers, if I’ll be a fan or what will become of the brand.
Daniel: Biggest pet peeve?
Kyle: Slow people. I’m very very impatient.
Daniel: What is your bad habit?
Kyle: I think I’m a perfectionist which makes getting things done a bit difficult. I always think something can be better or we can find something cooler.
Daniel: Have you ever been star struck?
Kyle: Hmmm. Not really. I never know who celebs are. Maybe with a designer because I think some of them are geniuses. When I met Tom Ford, Ricardo Tischi and Alber Albaz I was pretty shy, I’d have to say.
Daniel: Who’s your inspiration and why?
Kyle: Nina Garcia, our former fashion director, was and is really a role model for me. I’ve never met someone who has that strong of a passion for clothing and accessories in all of my career. No matter that she has worked in this industry for 20 years, she still gets really excited about a shoe or a bag or a belt or a pair of jeans. I always wanna be like that.
Daniel: Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?
Kyle: In the world of accessories, I’m a senior editor now so there is really only one more step for me, which is director. But beyond accessories, i’m interested in styling and then being a creative director of a magazine. I’m interested in not just accessories, but the whole overall look of a magazine. The cover, the type, the fonts the people we shoot, the themes we cover, the fashion we shoot. The photographers we use, the look of the beauty pages etc. – I’m not interested in the stories or writing, but the visual look overall.
Daniel: Who are some of the new photographers that you think will be icons.
Kyle: Mariano Vivanco and Damon Baker – both photographers in the Jed Root agency.
Daniel: Who is your favorite stylist?
Kyle: Carlyne Cerf, Carine Roitfeld and Emmanuelle Alt.
Daniel: Who are your favorite models?
Kyle: Andrej Pejic. There hasn’t been a model that people have been this interested in following for a long long time.
He is an icon after only modeling one year at the age of 19.
Daniel: Which magazines do you read besides Elle?
Kyle: I read a lot of different ones but my favorite besides Elle is Vogue PARIS.