A few years ago, I was still riding new on the whole influencer/blog scene. I was trying to make a space for myself, but I honestly was nervous about going near people who worked in the same field as I as I assumed that I had to keep to myself without getting too involved with competitors who had more followers than me. However, my perception changed when I networked with other fellow influencers on an app called Muses, the LinkedIn for influencers.
Inside the app, I discovered this really cool girl and I thought her style was impeccable. That girl today is Taylor Burrell, the fashionista behind @trendliketaylor. At 26, the New Jersey based fashion stylist is the reincarnation of Aaliyah. Like the singer, Burrell gravitates towards crop tops and sporty aesthetics, but unlike the mononymed diva, she will take more risks with flirty cutouts, chunky hardware and/or change it up a bit with trying out brighter hues like a Scorpio (FYI: this sign is no stranger to reinvention as every Scorpio female I know likes to take risks with their style!).
Although both of us live in different parts of the globe, our love of fashion unifies us. Today, we talk about the influence of the Teen Vogue Handbook, the realities of being a fashion stylist, how the pandemic has affected her, why BLM matters and how you can continue to support it.
So many young creatives move to NYC in the hopes of making it big in fashion. What has been your experience like when you first moved there?
Taylor Burrell: So I don’t actually live in the city (NYC). I will say that my experience in working there while not living there (although close) is a bit difficult. It can be quite expensive to live there which is why many people commute from NJ! Nonetheless, as a fashion creative, NYC is extremely fast-paced, and of course, one of the top places to be for fashion and networking. I have met some really cool people there who are involved in the industry, and ultimately thats the goal in terms of growing your business.
I’ve realized that when you move to a new city, your style changes as you change. Do you agree?
TB: When I first started to work in NYC after college, I saw so many different kinds of people and was inspired aesthetically. At a point I was working there 5-6 days a week and got used to the hustle and bustle – I wanted to dress for style but also comfort having to ride the subway and walk the large, busy streets all day. I’d definitely say depending on the pace and your surroundings, your style may adapt.
There are so many young, talented stylists killing it in the game, but you have a distinct style. How would you describe it?
Thank you so much! Honestly I find it hard myself to describe my style because I am inspired by many things. I have like a photographic memory of the fashions that have inspired me since I was very young. I’m inspired by 90s-2000s editorials, music videos and movies as well as current fashion muses, designers and trends. With my outdoor photos, I like to create a scene. I just go with how I feel in the moment. I place my style in the streetwear-trendy category.
What made you become a fashion stylist? Are there any icons who inspire you?
TB: In 8th grade[,] I was reading the Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion and found out that there was a such thing as people who dress others for a living. Being someone who always was intrigued by personal style and how it allows people to express themselves, I knew it was the best path for me. I always had an eye for good style and I really live for styling people through having an understanding of who they are and what they desire to convey, and bringing that to life. The best part is bringing out aspects of people that they didn’t know they had – that makes my heart soar. Icons who inspire me: B Akerlund, Misa Hylton, Maeve Reilly, June Ambrose, Marni Senofonte.
In the styling field, it’s notoriously labor-intensive as you have to lug back suitcases, type lot of e-mails to PR, moodboard like crazy, etc. Can you tell us more what a day in the life of a stylist is like?
TB: It’s sooo crazy! Lol. I would define full-time styling or working on a large project as – “no sleep.” You don’t really sleep much. You have to stay on top of so many tasks and maintain conversation with many people at once which is why stylists have assistants (first, second, even third) and interns. You cannot be unorganized or easily forgetful! Budgeting is very important as well. It’s a lot of grunt work, physically and mentally, but the best part is always the photo shoot where your creation finally comes to life. To an aspiring stylist I’d say – intern for a couple weeks – it’s a reality check for sure, but if you can handle it, the work is worth it.
Nowadays, the fashion industry is beginning to speak up on BLM; however, the comments section reveal so much truth and thankfully, we have Diet Prada to help the voices of employees from racist fashion brands get heard. How do you feel about this sudden shift and where do you think this will go into the future?
TB: I feel that with the pandemic and almost everyone being stationed at home – we are all on our phones and the internet all day – we finally saw all of the social injustice that is happening everyday. It has been something that we can no longer ignore – even for those who wish to believe that it isn’t real. I realized that a lot of people were not aware of how deep this issue is and with this current major broadcast across all platforms from news outlets and individuals alike, many people desire change. Which is great! I also think some companies are trying to use it as a trend to get attention or to falsely appear in solidarity all of a sudden when before they only prioritized white people. I think that from now on, more POC businesses and creatives will get the credit they deserve but we must remember what this is all about and keep fighting for equality in all aspects.
These days, social media has been proven to be an effective soapbox for people like us to speak up about issues openly without fear, especially when it comes to facing racial discrimination. Have you felt any discrimination when you tried to to break into the industry?
TB: I do feel that in the workforce discrimination is large. I have had interviews with companies and noticed when I looked around that most if not all employees were white, and then although feeling like I presented myself well, if I didn’t get a call back I wondered – was my hair straight enough? Were my tattoos an issue? Did I look too “casual” or ethnic? I don’t think those are things I should think about in terms of whether I get a job or not. My name on paper looks ambiguous – I wonder if factors changed when a hiring manager saw that I am black. I have also on the other end been a token black person amongst all white employees.
For anyone who wants to be an ally to BLM, where can we start?
TB: I think that supporting BLM means you are empathetic to the black person’s voice and reality. I don’t think any person of another ethnicity could truly understand fully what its like to be black in America – but we just need your unbiased support and your actionable efforts when action needs to be taken. Don’t just feel sorry for us – do something about it with us.