When partnering with such a big brand like Gap for Styld.by, how do you incorporate your own ideas?
Brandon Frein: Gap has a very distinct style but typically when people come to us and hire us they want our style so it’s usually not that much of a struggle. Rue Magazine hired us because they wanted to add a little edge. I have heard our photographer, Kirsten, say she doesn’t like when models smile so for her to be able to take something that is more lifestyle and make it cool while appealing to Gap is amazing.
Kirsten, we heard you walked around the city to find that graffiti wall for the shoot. How did you come up with that idea?
Kirsten Miccoli: When we sat down and met we were talking about the concept and the word graffiti was thrown around. It shows off Chicago and shows that it’s not boring and it was a little bit out of the norm. I went home and looked up graffiti and I found an image of that wall. It was on Flickr and it didn’t have a location underneath. I found out it was by this graffiti artist so I typed in his name and eventually found out it was on 16th Street. That was all I could find out so I walked along 16th on Google maps and it wasn’t there on the map but I could tell it was supposed to be there.
Who is the most difficult type of person to photograph or style?
Arlene Matthews: It’s the real people. Really more is more. It is much, much better on film when you pile it on, the minimalist thing is a very difficult thing to do. That’s why we lug in six racks of crap.
Brandon: It’s hard sometimes when your subject seems to have a real love for fashion and opinion about style and they don’t give you the freedom to do your job. That presents a little bit of a challenge.
How did you afford to build a collection of quality pieces when you were in your early 20s?
Brandon: I maxed out credit cards. I used to think that if I’m going to spend a lot of money on something it has to be something crazy and fantastic and out there. Then you realize you can spend less on those trendy and statement-making items but a pair of black pants or a classic blazer are the pieces you are going to have forever.
Do you have any pet peeves when you’re on the job?
Kirsten: I have a couple. One is when somebody says, “You can just Photoshop this out,right?” or when someone comes around the camera and asks to see the photos during the shoot.
Brandon: My only pet peeve are models who don’t respect the clothes.
Favorite stores in Chicago?
Brandon: Robin Richmond, Blake and Ikram. A little known secret — I shop anywhere. I can actually get pleasure from shopping at a CVS.
Arlene: Stitch, Hazel and Sprout.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Brandon: Alexander McQueen. He is so brilliant.
Arlene: I’m just going to have to say Johnny Depp.
Kirsten: Tim Walker. He is such an awesome fashion photographer.
Photography by Neal Agustin
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