In this week’s MABBH Spotlight we talk with stylist, fashion director and creative consultant Rachael Wang.
After leaving her positions as the former fashion market director of Style.com (rip) and fashion director of Allure, Rachael set off to create her own consultancy (Rachael Wang Studio) which provides her with total creative freedom and expression. Since then her portfolio has been flooded with clients and celebrities from Kendall Jenner, Alexa Chung, Dua Lipa and Vogue to brand names like Nordstrom, Saks, Nike, and Stuart Weitzman.
Find out more as we dive into her views on sustainability, her personal journey with veganism, and it’s inspiration in her career.
1. Hey Rachael, tell us a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in Los Angeles and spent my formative years reading in my bedroom, sitting in traffic en route to soccer practice and sifting through piles of used clothing at early Sunday morning swap-meets. My mixed ethnicity (my father is Chinese and my mom is of Northwest European descent), while quite common now, was unusual when I was growing up and had a notable effect on my perception of myself as an outsider from an early age. I mention this, because it’s a pretty significant part of my identity that has driven me to find community among people who also identify as "other" and inspires me to make everything I'm a part of feel more safe, welcoming and inclusive. Eventually I made my way to New York in my early twenties where I fell into the fashion industry.
2. What was the catalyst to make you go vegan?
My reasons for implementing this philosophy into my life have been accumulating for decades but it wasn't until adulthood that I was able to really pull it together and prioritize my ethical and environmental values enough to change the way I was living. There were a couple of early catalysts that would ultimately form the foundation of my adult belief system.
When I was twelve I lost someone I loved very dearly to lung cancer and the experience sparked an obsession with health and nutrition as preventative medicine. In high school, I bought a copy of Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford and it became my religion. I thought that if I could control my and my loved ones' health then I would be able to control our mortality and ultimately our experience of suffering and loss. Simultaneously, I was becoming pretty immersed in the Southern California punk scene and started to learn about social justice, environmentalism and animal rights through the bands I was listening to. This had a huge and lasting effect on me and continues to really inspire the values I strive to honor and implement on a daily basis.
3. How long have you been vegan for, and what has your experience been like adapting to our society?
I have followed a plant-based diet for about 6 years now and in the past year have been transitioning into a fully vegan lifestyle by eliminated my personal consumption of animal products in all forms including clothing and home goods. I recognize that I have the tremendous privilege of being able to afford to consume ethical and sustainable products and for that reason, it is relatively easy for me to be vegan. I feel very grateful that I can afford to live and work in New York, a city that really caters to the vegan lifestyle.
Eating a plant based diet rich in nutrient dense starches like beans, rice and potatoes can be really cheap and easy but it certainly helps make the lifestyle more flexible to be able to afford and have access to specialty dairy free products like coconut yogurt and cashew ice cream and to be able to sit down at a restaurant like Jajaja and order things like mezcal mushroom tacos and palm carnitas. Overall, I feel incredibly inspired by the vegan community that prioritizes a sustainable solution to protecting our very vulnerable planet and all its creatures.
4. How did you first get into fashion and styling/creative direction? What peaked your interest?
My senior year of college, feeling a little lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with a literature degree, I interviewed for an internship in the fashion closet at W Magazine per the suggestion of a friend. I immediately felt at home and just decided to work hard and see how far I could go.
5. You've worked with a plethora of big names such as Nike, Saks, Levi's, Bergdorf Goodman, Opening Ceremony and beyond. What was your favorite project to date and why?
I have had the privilege of being able to work on so many wonderful projects that I am proud of. Probably the one most special to me was a Universal Standard campaign I worked on with creative director Henrietta Gallina and photographer Ronan Mckenzie last year. It was the first time I was really able to really implement my personal values into the work that I do on such a public platform. As you can imagine, when you work with brands, there is plenty of red tape and my opinion only carries so much weight. Working with Universal Standard was a true collaboration between likeminded creatives and I think the outcome represents that rarity.
6. For a new stylist breaking into the fashion industry, what is the best advice you would give?
It’s an exciting time in an industry ripe for change but for that reason it has become quite competitive. It’s a job that demands stamina, humility and a thick skin. It’s important to establish what makes your point of view unique but to also know when a particular project is about supporting someone else’s vision. There are so many paths to having success in the fashion industry, pick a lane and just keep at it.
7. Do you see a shift in the demand for more eco-conscience and sustainable fashion in the styling realm?
Yes absolutely, Millennials and Gen Z care deeply about our earth and it's inhabitants and are demanding conscious fashion. The fashion industry hears that demand and designers like Collina Strada, Mara Hoffman and Stella McCartney are answering. Each season, more established brands are shifting their practices to support a more sustainable model and new independent brands enter the marketplace with technology and ideas that haven’t existed before. It’s such an exciting time in the industry.
8. Where do you see the vegan fashion movement going in terms of public awareness and popularity with publications and clients?
As sustainability increases in popularity, the vegan fashion movement will continue to benefit as these issues go hand in hand. I’ve already seen a ton of growth in media coverage on these issues not to mention influencers incorporating this messaging which continues to fuel public awareness. Supply will increase to meet a growing demand.
9. Do you have any underrated vegan fashion brands on your radar you're willing to spill to us?
10. Let's put some good juju out into the universe, who would be your ultimate dream client and project to work on?
I’m dying to work with Eileen Fisher and Patagonia, the OGs when it comes to sustainable fashion. I also love what Noah is doing.
Follow Rachael Wang on Instagram and let us know who you’d love to hear from next!