In the oftentimes gruelling landscape of today's creative culture, it can be difficult for young people to find their niche and create work that stands out. Hailing from Alaska but living and loving in New York City, stylist-slash-model-slash-artist Gia Seo (@giaxseo) is a pertinent reminder of the importance of prioritizing authenticity in order to reach your creative pinnacle. Gia took us to Williamsburg, Brooklyn last weekend, where we couldn't help but soak up some majorly creative energy from her. (And get some serious outfit inspiration - Dior trainers, anybody?) Photos by Amanda Lin, styled by Gia Seo.
What made you want to work in fashion?
I grew up in a very small town in Alaska, so for most of my life, fashion expression existed not far beyond practical gear, whether it be climate controlled North Face jackets, or bunny boots for blizzard season. The only expression I could exist within was through color choice, and once in a while a different fabric terry L.L. Bean sweater. So with this background, my limited "fashion" sense didn't seem plausible until I moved to New York, where people were actually paying attention to what they wore, how, and why. When you are restricted in something for so long, I believe it is natural that when the chains loosen, you grab hold and hang on. I guess you could call me a late bloomer.
Who do you consider an important role model in your life?
The biggest role models for me are the influx of people who bless my life every day with their quirks and their very specific personalities. But, if I had to choose one role model, it would be my mother, of course. Who better to call a role model than the woman who birthed and raised you, and sat with you when you thought you dyed your hair pink, but really the bleach made you bald? Dedication like that always has the biggest place in my heart.
Where do you get inspiration?
To be honest it just happens. There are many days that no inspiration comes to me at all. Months, even... Always the biggest source[s] for me are the older generations, like our parents and our grandparents, who casually step out in a Gucci sweatsuit from the 70s, or a Patagonia color we haven't seen since the founding of the brand. Again, inspiration for me comes from the people and the environment I am in, and usually, it comes in a form that is not obvious for a very long time to me.
Why did you suggest Williamsburg for today's shoot?
Really, I suggested Williamsburg (more East Williamsburg) because I want to take advantage of the industrious setting and it's barren concrete before it is overridden and becomes the new Lower East Side. It's sad to see families being pushed further and further into Brooklyn because people can't afford to live there anymore.
You’re originally from Alaska, but you work and live in New York now, and have mused about relocating to Berlin or Tokyo. How do your surroundings influence your work?
Perhaps I am sounding like a broken record at this point, but really it's the people in New York, and the atmosphere they create that influence my work. Of course I always try to keep up with the "scene" in Berlin, Tokyo, really all around the world, but sometimes I think this detracts from my work because I confuse myself and think "wow, I just came up with the most amazing idea" and then later I realize, actually that kid in Berlin came up with it first and I just reappropriated it. Sometimes, the influences around me cause a lot of problems and my original ideas become convoluted. So, to summarize, I am careful about how I open myself up to influence and inspiration always.
On that note, where do you go in the city to get creative inspiration?
My favorite place to get creative inspiration in the city is actually not a place, but a person. My boyfriend is definitely the most creative person I know, but he is whip smart about his approach. He is always open to try something new, even something different that he may slave over for months. But his greatest attribute to me is that he is always pushing me to calm down and to truly think about why I do what I do. In a city where everyone is rushing around, and doesn't have a minute to spare, I definitely lose sight of [that]. James really forces me to stop and to think about the significance of my work.
What are 3 essentials skills you think a stylist should have?
1. DO NOT BE LATE. This is a skill I think everyone in any industry should really cater to. It makes the people around you cranky, and in NYC, reputation is everything. You will lose jobs if everyone can only remember how late you were to set.
2. Double check your work. I have a nifty styling kit that I carry with me that contains everything emergency related. This allows me to prepare for any scenario, and it forces me to double, triple, quadruple check my work always. The photo and the styling may be phenomenal, but if you can see the tape holding the garment together, well, unless its purposeful, I promise you, people WILL notice it.
3. Enjoy what you do. For a while, I felt I was only styling because I wanted to have an awesome book. This made my work look like garbage, and people can see when you lose your steam. I was doing 3-6 jobs a week, half-assing [it] because I figured the more work = the better. Eventually I realized that my work was starting to look like regurgitated shit, so I toned down, dialed back, and only took jobs where I felt I would really love and care for. This allowed me to take the allotted time I needed to concept and thrive.
My proudest moment was probably getting into university. When you're 16 or 17 and all everyone is talking about is college, you start to doubt yourself and compare yourself to everyone else. Lucky for me, NYU was really the place for me, and to receive an acceptance letter after years of working your ass off [is] really a proud moment. After graduating from university, it allowed me to have more proud moments in my life, like landing my first job, paying my first electricity bill on my own, finding my first apartment and side stepping a brokers fee.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
If I am alive in 10 years, I will surely let you know what I am up to ;)