Part of the joy of writing and photographing this column comes from its evolution. While it’s growing well beyond its insular origins, it’s always fun to bring it back to the place it started from. A brief history lesson: This grew from an idea I had almost 11 years ago on Tumblr. I’d meet up with folks in and adjacent to the fashion industry and photograph each of their outfits over the course of a work week. Sometimes, I get to repeat subjects from other iterations of this idea and thus, document various stages in the evolution of their style.
Julian Fetterman is one such alumnus. He always struck me as mature, in part due to his demeanor, but also because of how put-together he looked. You don’t often see really young guys in Visvim, not just because of how expensive it is—though that’s a factor, for sure—but because the Japanese label’s appeal is more cerebral than some ostentatious luxury brand. It’s always had an insider’s feel to it. Fetterman, now 25, has been wearing it for years. Below, we discuss his history with clothing, his role as Urban Outfitters’ director of styling, separating his personal style from work, and plenty more.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and your current role at Urban Outfitters?
I grew up in Detroit. Clothing was always an important part of my life. It was my first love, really. My parents were not into fashion, but I had the coolest aunt who was a designer and big collector. I think I got the bug from her. Clothing became my life in high school; it’s how I’ve made my best friends over the years, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with clothing every day. I went through the natural progression of shopping at my local mall to discovering brands online. When I was living in Detroit, in high school, I worked at the only designer boutique in town called Revive. They carried Balmain, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Comme des Garçon, Visvim… I couldn’t afford the stuff making 15 bucks an hour, but I could do it at cost and spend my entire paycheck. I did the same thing working at Dover Street Market when I first moved to New York. I then interned at Grailed, and later joined their brand marketing team. Now, I'm the director of styling at Urban Outfitters.
What does the role entail?
I work on the brand’s styling direction, manage marketing campaigns, and style their editorials and e-commerce.
You have pretty interesting menswear taste, and I'd say some of your work for Urban Outfitters is quite different from your personal style. What is the relationship between your own style and your styling work?
It’s different on the surface, but it’s all the same world to me. I romanticize clothing—for myself and for my styling clients. I feel like my work is successful if it sparks the same type of joy I feel when I put on clothing that I love. With styling, each client is different. Each project is different. Context is important. With Urban, there’s so much product and diversity in the consumer that we can create any type of world we want. A lot of it is based around nostalgia for me. I was shopping at Urban when I was in middle school, discovering what I liked. I remember that feeling and I try to translate that into our work. There’s always the challenge of making our work aspirational but still relatable, all while honoring the brand’s history.
Do you have any styling influences or specific places you look to for inspiration? How have you honed your eye?
I’m more into trial and error. I try a lot of things. I'm always shopping. I'm really fortunate to be traveling a lot and to be surrounded by really creative people. I see a lot of different things, but I also really know what I like. My tastes have evolved, like everyone’s does, but I’ve always had my own lane and have been able to communicate passionately about what it is I like. I can nerd out about materials and garment construction, but at the end of the day it’s always aesthetics over everything for me.
Are there any other stylists or magazines you like? Do you try to steer clear of other people's work?
There are a lot of people I admire, but at the same time, styling is hyper-personal. You can’t please everyone, but you can stay true to your point of view and that’s all you can really do.
What tips do you have for a guy looking to begin a style journey, to better understand what works for him?
Focus on how you feel in the clothing you wear. That’s really what it’s all about. Are you comfortable? Are you confident? Try a lot of stuff. We used to call it “the style journey” at Grailed. There’s no other way to discover what works for you than to just try, try, try. Instagram and TikTok have made the menswear space one big flex-off, but you don’t need to participate. Take from what intrigues you, but I think you should also look for inspiration elsewhere, in the physical world.
You're obsessed with Visvim. I am, too. Why?
Visvim was the first brand to truly blow my mind. It was the product, but also the world [designer] Hiroki [Nakamura] built. Everything he does fits within this romanticized view of Americana and vintage lifestyle. The cars he drives, the homes he lives in, and of course the clothing he wears. His appreciation for history and craftsmanship and masculine style is so refreshing when everything today feels like it’s so intent on being modern. He takes all of this and then makes items that sacrifice absolutely nothing when it comes to production, development, materials, time, cost. You get something so incredibly unique and refined that feels not of this time. There are few things in fashion that feel as authentic and as well thought through to me as that brand and I’ll always want to participate in that.
How do you purchase new pieces and what do you look for when you're purchasing a new item?
I'll shop online if I know exactly what I’m after. Otherwise, there’s no better way to shop than in person. I love to hang and chat with shop staff. If they’re excited about the clothes, I get excited about the clothes. I want to talk about it all. Being out with friends and experiencing the clothing in person just can’t be matched. That said, I don’t have the patience that some of my friends do to browse through vintage or really busy racks. It’s hard to find stores that offer a great experience, but there are some amazing ones and there are always more to be discovered. I feel so lucky to live in New York and to travel to these cities where you can walk around and find gems.
Are you on the hunt for anything in particular at the moment?
Yeah, I’d like to find some of my early Visvim purchases from back when people weren't really shopping for the things they are now. I had some things that are now impossible to find. The hunt for those is a fun challenge, but also a frustrating one since the menswear world has grown and people are trying to make a buck on everything—even old Visvim.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it consist of?
A flannel, vintage jeans, and flip-flops.
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