Fashion Jobs in NYC – Q&A with New York Stylist Kirby Calvin

Style Nine to Five - Fashion Jobs in NYCScreen shot 2017-06-21 at 10.56.27 AM

He is a creative genius, a thriving entrepreneur and all around wizard when it comes to the worlds of fashion and art; he is the one and only, Kirby Calvin. Based in New York City as a freelance stylist, Kirby decided to take on the concrete jungle and all the many wonders of the big city just four years ago and carve out a name for himself in the ever-evolving fashion industry.  During his time in NYC, he has managed to establish himself as a full-time stylist, specifically in editorial, film, music video and celebrity styling. SNTF had the opportunity to connect with Kirby and ask him about what it’s like to live, work and build a fashion career in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

Kirby Calvin

SNTF: Where did you start out in your career? And how did it bring you to where you are today?

KC: I started styling when I got an internship assisting the fashion editor at Seattle Met magazine back in 2013 while I was in college. I helped out on their seasonal editorials for the magazine and I enjoyed it so much I felt the fire light within me. I had a street style blog at the time too which I felt also catapulted my move into styling by making connections within the Seattle creative community. After my internship with the magazine came to an end, I began doing freelance e-commerce and commercial work. In the summer of 2014, I packed my bags and moved to New York City where I have been able to broaden my scope of work doing fashion editorials, film, music videos, and celebrity styling.

Kirby Calvin Couple Styled

SNTF: What do you love the most about styling and why?

KC: Styling to me is a form of self-expression and creating a personal identity. For the most part, I’m a huge introvert so how I dress myself and dress others is an outlet in which I can evoke a mood or feeling.  Sometimes I want to wear all blue, sometimes I want to mix my prints or sometimes I want to connect with a more femme persona. I love the importance that wardrobe has with developing a narrative. I really love storytelling.

SNTF: What is it like working as a freelance stylist in NYC? What are some of the challenges you face?

KC: Working in New York City is exhilarating because there are so many subcultures here and so many talented people but with that said there are also a lot of people making similar work. I find the fashion industry to be oversaturated at the moment.  I’m hoping for that bubble to burst. Hoping for a revolution.

SNTF: Where do you draw most of your inspiration for your work? What inspires you?

KC: Since New York is such a stimulating city, I like to remove myself and find inspiration outside of the city. I try to leave once a month even if it’s just for a day. I love being in nature and going for long walks to clear the mind. I also have a deep love for music so going to concerts regularly is very important to me.

Kirby Calvin Mint

SNTF: Which of your projects have you enjoyed doing the most so far in your career and why?

KC: One of my proudest moments as a stylist so far was working on a music video for my client, Bosco for her single ‘Castles’ featuring St. Beauty. It premiered in Vogue in early April. It was such a good group of creative people and the visuals were something I really vibed with; it was dreamy, colorful, and an ode to ‘90s fashion.

SNTF: What advice can you give to aspiring fashion stylists and those just starting out in the industry?

KC: Reach out to photographers who are starting their careers as well. Collaborate with people whose work you connect with. Start to form your community and support each other in finding work.

SNTF: What else do you hope to accomplish or pursue as you continue in your career path as a stylist?

KC: I’m looking forward to launching my own company, Birds of a Feather, a creative services and visuals arts studio. The studio will be launching in mid-June offering services such as photography, styling, video, and consulting within the fashion, film and music industries. 

Kirby Calvin Woman Styled

SNTF: Describe what the fashion scene is like from your perspective in NYC?

KC: In my mind, New York City has always had an effortlessly cool and elevated fashion scene. There was always rawness that you couldn’t find anywhere else. On TV and in films, New Yorkers were portrayed to have this unapologetic attitude and confidence that I was in lure of i.e. Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Elaine from Seinfeld, or Chloe Sevigny in Kids. But so much has changed over the years. It’s losing its grittiness and authenticity to gentrification and corporate America. However, if you look for it, you can still find bits of old New York. Some of my favorite people watching are in Midtown; specifically the Garment District, Flat Iron, and Chelsea. There’s still some grit there.

SNTF: How do you network yourself and make yourself known?

KC: Instagram has honestly been a great way for me to connect with designers and photographers. We tend to all live such busy lives and at the convenience of my phone I can discover someone’s work and DM them and be like “hey, I like your work let’s collaborate!” It is so easy and straight to the point.  It’s also just a great way to showcase your work and let people get an idea of who you are and what you’re about.

SNTF: What allows you to be different from any other stylists working in NYC?

KC: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and my appreciation for music really shaped who I am as a stylist. Mountains, lakes, and forests surrounded me and I was instilled with a sense of adventure.  I also think my parent’s music taste and watching MTV heavily influenced me as a kid. Growing up I listened to artists such as Nirvana, Prince, Madonna, Patsy Cline, Bjork, Garbage, Dinah Washington, and Moby just to name a few. 

SNTF: What are some important or key lessons you have learned in building your career thus far?

KC: Invest time into your community. Create work that means something to you and surround yourself with people who inspire you.

You can stay up to date with Kirby’s creative journey in New York by following him on Instagram or checking out his personal website.

By: Ciara Koth, Toronto, @ciarakoth

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Christie Lohr