I think an influencer has a certain confidence that probably not many people have that they know what they’re doing is the right thing because they’re comfortable in it.
To me, an influencer is somebody who has a different way of thinking and a different way of expressing themselves. It could be in music. It could be in art. It could be in sports.
There’s a group of people that are really just early adopters that embrace all forms of culture.
Those are the people that everyone else ends up paying attention to, whether it’s because they’re creative and they invent things or they can recognize what the next thing is and are able to popularize it earlier.
Someone who is well-respected and someone whose opinion is very valued.
Is a person who can take an idea, a brand, a concept that is not in the mainstream’s consciousness and can bring it to mainstream consciousness.
I think an influencer, just by virtue of the definition, is somebody that other people listen to and react to. So they listen to what they say. They have a certain amount of trust to what they say and then they react to it.
The first one that comes to mind is Jay-Z. I think in America probably the most iconic version of what an influencer is.
Starting from nothing and becoming a star and staying pretty much true to yourselves the whole way.
He can really change markets.
You see someone like Jay-Z wearing his Yankee cap and really making a statement.
That’s extremely powerful, being able to travel around, we’re talking about this earlier, travelling around the country with Notorious BIG, Biggie and seeing how his persona, his influence on culture, his influence on communities, on kids, on his peers was incredible.
This type of event is usually reserved for political and religious leaders. This is a historical moment here right now.
You look at a friend of mine, Hiroshi Fujiwara, in Tokyo who is another really incredible influencer but he’s different because he doesn’t do it with his mouth. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t say things. He does it by living, like by his actions. So it’s like a whole other way of influencing people.
I think that most of the new styles and the new sort of trends and things come from the younger, creative class simply because they have to figure out ways to present themselves the way they want to present themselves and they’re broke.
So they are the ones that are, over the years, and whether as musicians or artists or whoever, created new styles, whether it’s punk or new wave or hip-hop style or whatever it is.
Hip-hop was always very much self-aware of how your hair was, how your jeans hung, what kind of sneakers you had. So I think that during my high school years, that had a big influence on me stylistically.
My name is Craig. I’m from New York and I don’t really take fashion really seriously. I just look for whatever I have, whatever I’m ready to wear. I just throw it on.
My name is Cara and I live here in New York. I’m a fashion designer. I actually design an accessory that’s a collar attached to a tie for men and for women. I love an androgynous look. So, anything men’s wear combined with women’s wear is what I like to throw on. So, I wear the same kind of thing every single day.
Bill Cunningham is really the most well-known of street style photographers. He was the first one to ever do it. I mean, you know, the Sartorialist list him as one of his biggest influences.
I think the reason that those sorts of sites and the idea of every man street style has gotten so popular is for a lot of the same reasons that reality television is popular, for a lot of the same reasons that blogs in themselves are popular, not just style blogs. It’s because people get great satisfaction out of seeing their peers presented in that sort of context.
You know, right now we are in the Lower East Side of downtown Manhattan. This is where I live. This is where I operate. This is where I work. My store is here and it’s dope. I love this neighbourhood because it’s really the last remaining neighborhood left in New York. It’s really chill, laid back. Yet, I feel like culturally, we’re at the center of it all.
LES is dope because historically, from back in the day, LES was where immigrants would come into town from Ellis Island. They would all migrate here in the Lower East Side. So from the beginning of time of New York City history, it was always a melting pot – all these immigrants, all these different cultures and because of that, the rents were always low, too.
And now, because the rents are lower, all the creatives and all the young people will come here, start their business here, start their art gallery here and went on and became a really creative melting pot as well. So now what you have is a really nice community of creative people doing different things and it is just a dope vibe.
The tipping point is the biography of an idea and the idea is very simple. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.
It’s hard to say what that exact point is but you look at the influence and the way culture spreads, it usually starts in a certain city and then spreads globally from there. It’s not something that you can just pinpoint. That’s the moment where that happens.
Going from my personal experiences, I always used to love going to a club with vinyl. Now, everybody’s playing off a serato or MP3s off their computer. We used to take vinyl records to DJs in a club and it would be a record that had never been heard before. There was not file sharing back in the day.
You could see the crowd react and then you knew will go away, leaving that club that night looking for that record, telling their friends about that record and you would see the seeds being planted. And all of the sudden, you start seeing the dots being connected from New York to Miami to the Bay Area.
There’s Hong Kong, there’s London, there’s Tokyo, there’s Paris, there’s Berlin. There’s more than you can name and each one has its own specific flavour.
For us, it’s a quick thing when you look at trends and how trends develop and how they are born and how they die – so fast, super, super fast and as time goes on, it becomes faster and faster. You know when something becomes mass or when something becomes liked by a lot of people, it’s not cool for them anymore.
So you have that concept that do I want to stay really small and cool or do I want to be big and have a lot of people be affected by my stuff?
Once you kind of get to that level and you’re sort of tapped by corporations, then you sort of lose your ability to actually be in touch with what’s going on; you’re reacting to sort of secondary information.
I think brands are established through consistency – by doing great things. It’s not necessarily that a brand ties themselves to one individual. You can’t fake it. You can’t create this movement overnight. It’s not about one individual or brand paying money to one single person and say, “Hey, can you wear our product? Can you come up with an idea? Can you create something?”
It’s about brands really embracing the culture and the scene and empowering it and creating a true partnership. Where the whole concept of influencers have been ridiculous and out of control is that you have some of these mainstream brands thinking that they can corrupt a culture and go into Williamsburg and just embrace a certain culture and find a trend. That’s where it’s gotten so out of control and out of proportion.
Sometimes it’s just really random places that you end up going to and sort of feeling inspired.
It’s the places where people assemble based on passion, I think, are usually the places where you see the most influence – the South West South West, the Coachellas, the Glastonburys.
The Bonnaroo is another great example of a live music event that’s great.
TED is amazing. It’s amazing because the promise of when you hear something at TED, you hear it for the first time.
Mostly, the foundation of all these starts from the family and those people that you are around the most.
First and foremost are my parents. They have been incredible. My father, God bless him, hard-nosed kid from Brooklyn, built a trucking company in East New York, Brooklyn, 50 years of doing his own business, full of integrity, full of honesty and transparency, and busted his ass, I mean, worked hard.
When I met Minia and Nadina, my business partners, who were very like-minded, I think the three of us coming together, we really inspired each other. It’s been over six years and we continue to go on that path. We started there as a service agency and now, we’ve launched trade shows and we have a million other ideas.
I’m a big runner. I love to run. I’m a big marathoner and I take a lot of inspiration from some of the elite athletes, some of the great Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. They have nothing and they literally learn to run from such a young age and can really propel themselves out of Africa to become one in the global stage. To me, there’s something beautiful about that.
If you look at someone like a Steve McQueen or if you look at somebody like The Ratpack, if you look at someone like Paul Newman or any of those people, they were really canonized after many, many years in the spotlight.
I definitely think that Paul Newman is probably the best-dressed man of all times. He looked great in everything. He’s got the Daytona watch after him. He looked great in army gear. He looked great in a suit. I’ll never be a Paul Newman but if I was going to want to look like anybody, it would probably be him.
When you get to a certain place and if someone has helped you to get to where you are, you must help identify younger talent and be the mentor for somebody else.
I think influence is all relative. It’s all relative to your personal taste, what you like, and who you look at. What I’m influenced by is incredibly different by what you’re influenced by.
There’s not a rule book. There’s not a manual. There’s something inside saying, “This is right,” when I sketch this. So when I put these fabrics together, that feels right for me. The real cool shit is when people aren’t looking at you, when nobody’s looking, when the camera’s off, what are you made of when you’re by yourself? It’s kind of the essence of cool for me.
This is a time to be involved in style, to be involved in the media.
You can look at Twitter. You can get a text message from a friend and you can read a magazine, look at a website. You can go to see a show. I mean there are so many touch points in our lives that affect us.
And the importance of the consumer is really becoming paramount again where it maybe wasn’t for a while. But since people are so readily able to express themselves and show what they’re feeling to massive amounts of people, it really does influence the establishment. Who knows where that will eventually lead? None of us do. So, it’s really an exciting time to see who the icons of this new era are going to be. I think we have got to wait and see.
Subscribe today and get future blog posts your email.