Kaylan Graham: Seen Through Fashion

4 Minute Read
"I think the only way for us to move forward in life is to embrace the unexpected. Any routine that you may have, you already know the outcome."
15 October 2022
Kaylan Graham

ORTTU: 
You’ve done some modeling in the past.

KAYLAN:

Yes, my proudest moments were working with Calvin Klein and H&M. I did a campaign with H&M in 2016. And 2017 and 18, I did some work with Calvin Klein. That just exposed me to the creative industry. Really my biggest takeaway was just to be in the same room as the most creative people and watching their process.

ORTTU:

So, what’s your background? Did you study fashion?

KAYLAN:

I didn’t study fashion. But around 2015, I started my journey in fashion when I started modeling full-time. I was born and raised in Michigan, about four hours east of Chicago, and it’s not a fashion capital, so I did some work here, in New York, and was going back and forth for jobs.

Kaylan Graham Beach

ORTTU:

And, so you’re also an entrepreneur and you’ve done several different things. Tell us about that. 

KAYLAN:

“Entrepreneur” is a little too business, I feel. I hate to focus so much on the business side of things. I really want to figure out, in the world of fashion, how I can continue to live my passion and live and express myself through my art but also reach people and connect with people through the arts. The whole thing of being a creative is just creating and, often, if you happen to make money from it, great. 

While I was modeling, at the beginning it was a really interesting transition period. It was very, very important for us to focus on our book—portfolio—and I remember having interviews where I was asked what type of leather is my portfolio and how much money did I invest into this book of photos. 

Instagram wasn’t a recognized portfolio in 2015. Then there was a sharp transition between 2015 and 2017. I went to California with a laptop and presented it, and they didn’t get it. Then I came to New York, and not even a year later all the agencies were asking for Instagram. But they were more focused on the potential exposure that they could gain from Instagram. And, I think, in a lot of ways, a lot of people’s focus on creativity and authenticity and passion took a blow because maybe they didn’t have the following or the presence or the fame. 

It’s so important for us to move away from all of those things that really don’t matter at the end of the day because art speaks for itself. It’s so, so important to remain authentic, whatever our art is, whether it’s photography, florist; whatever you do it’s so important to remain focused on the art versus the recognition. But most brands and media companies don’t focus on that. They really focus on the numbers. And, I think, as a creative, that’s really discouraging sometimes. So, we’re really trying to be the intersection between those two and create a space before the fame, where people will remain inspired and come together.

Kaylan Graham x ORTTU

ORTTU:

So what is the space that you’re creating? What does that look like?

KAYLAN:

It’s more of an extended masterclass that highlights the traits of creative individuals. For instance, I have a gentleman called Chris. He’s really a talented and brilliant creative and entrepreneur. But something that really stuck with me and inspired me: He was adopted. And his journey, finding his birth family, really was the catalyst that allowed him to grow in his entrepreneurial space and connect to his clients. 

Through a series of interviews on our platform, we really tackle these hurdles and, in each episode, focus on the importance of self-discovery and of remaining authentic and disciplined despite adversity. It’s easy to make excuses. Really, we’re just showing a way through adversity, through a season of interviews with entrepreneurs and creatives.

Kaylan Graham Wearing ORTTU

ORTTU:

And that’s THEUNCVRD, right?

KAYLAN:

Yes, THEUNCVRD (pronounced “The-Uncovered”). Basically, what that means is promoting a life of character and a life of raw presence without any facade and exploring your passion. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you really know their stories. I’ve noticed a change over the last few months of going from the super-influencer with millions of followers to the micro-influencer; these are the more relatable people. 

The brand hasn’t launched yet. We’re beginning filming in January and it will be available in the spring. I really want it to live beyond Instagram so the episodes will be between 25 and 45 minutes, and I don’t think it will be as effective on Instagram Live, so we’re working on how to present this to our viewers.

ORTTU:

So, what kind of people are you interviewing?

KAYLAN:
We have such a wide variety of people. In the first season, we have three fashion designers, one florist, a celebrity hairstylist, and a celebrity make-up artist. But, in the non-creative fields, we have a stockbroker. That episode will be focused more on determination and perseverance. 

ORTTU:

So how did you find out about ORTTU and connect with ORTTU?

KAYLAN:

Well, it was definitely through Instagram… I feel that the ORTTU brand really embraces individuality and respects individuality. Your slogan is “for open-minded people only” and I think that’s so powerful. That really just articulates what I feel inside when I express myself through fashion. I say it to my friends all the time but, for me, ORTTU has become what Balenciaga is to Kim Kardashian. I’m obsessed and I feel seen when I wear it.

ORTTU:

It sounds like your approach is allowing you to get in touch with the unexpected in other people and to put a positive example out there yourself—something that can inspire other people.

Kaylan Graham

KAYLAN:

Yeah, I think the only way for us to move forward in life is to embrace the unexpected. Any routine that you may have, you already know the outcome. You have to take a risk. Sometimes, that’s just saying “hello” to somebody. Or just experiencing something you haven’t experienced before, whether that’s a new outfit or a new place, or whatever it is. You don’t know the outcome. But being open to receiving it and growing from that experience is how I live my life. 

ORTTU:
So, just to wrap up, how would you describe your personal style?

KAYLAN:

Great question. I think it depends on what day it is, but it’s definitely “extra,” risky, and maybe a little bit dramatic, but also simple at the same time. I just hope that when people see me that they feel some kind of impact—a “wow factor”—and that they can see me as a person through the clothes that I wear. I would hope that people see someone being themself and feel inspired by that.

Photo Credits:
MARCIO HONORATO

  


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