Styling is the pulse of fashion. The art of picking and combining the best pieces for the right people is why fashion is as useful and inspirational as it is. But it's not only a matter of taste. Stylists need to know their way around brands, trends, and fashion as a business like it's their route home.
IMAGE Jerick Sanchez
Ryuji Shiomitsu has been a stylist for nearly seven years, and he's the boss of #TeamRyujiShiomitsu. He finished courses in fashion design, fashion styling, and pattern-making from the Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP) on top of his European studies degree from De La Salle University. Apart from being one of Preview's frequent contributors, he is also a favorite among brands and has been in charge of looks worn by the likes of Joey Mead-King, Kim Jones, Heart Evangelista, Sofia Andres, Julia Montes, and Meryll Soriano.
If you're new to the styling game, here are tips from Ryuji on how you can start your styling journey right.
1. Go to fashion school.
Being experimental with fashion is different from playing it like a guessing game. Knowing the basics before anything else gives you a foundation. And in a holistic field like fashion styling, you need a solid one. Plus, going to fashion school is a way to build relationships with editors, designers, makeup artists, models, and more early in your career.
2. Develop your preferences.
"It’s very important for you to find out what you like and dislike. Discover what you find interesting or look for the things that simply inspire you. This for me is the easiest way for you to develop your initial aesthetic," Ryuji advises.
Basically, don't be afraid to go out and just look at things. Go to museums and art galleries, listen to new music, watch old movies, and observe everything that might inspire you.
3. Immerse yourself in the industry.
Do your research and eat fashion news for breakfast. As Ryuji puts it, "Engross in the direction that the current power players are pushing for and get a feel of the passion that goes into making what Philippine fashion is today." If you're afraid you don't have enough resources, don't forget that the internet always has your back.
4. Get as much experience as you can.
It doesn't matter if it's doing an impromptu shoot with fellow rookies or styling your friend for a dinner party. Take every opportunity to get your hands dirty so you can measure your own capabilities and learn new things. Also, don't forget that dressing yourself is also part of the job. What you wear as a stylist is practically your resume on display.
5. Learn about the business-y stuff as well.
Fashion is a serious business, and that's something a lot of people tend to forget. Simple things such as getting your TIN and applying for valid IDs are your weapons against people and corporations that want to take advantage of your talent and newbie status. Also, always think long term and set goals for the future. Figure out how to arrange business permits and how to compensate people properly for their contributions.
6. Return your pullouts.
Keep track of every single thing that you borrow from brands, because one lost item—no matter how cheap—is a huge strike to your reputation. And you don't want to be banned from anywhere, right? Also, according to Ryuji, you should make your own checklist of the items you borrowed along with their date of return instead of just relying on the piece of paper the brand gave you.
7. Don't forget that fashion is fun.
Experiment from time to time and inject some fun into your looks whenever you feel like it. This is the best way to stay sane and not fall into a fashion doldrum. Besides, having such a creative job shouldn't be a drag. Your passion is your capital to thriving in this industry.
"I always think that working in the industry is a privilege. To be surrounded with a lot of beauty and talent (clothes, models, etc.), one can't help but be thankful," Ryuji tells us.
We can't argue with that. So if you have an eye for styling, it's now or never!
Main image illustrated by Gab Gutierrez