Next, up in our HFL Blogger Series, we speak with the wonderful Rachel Misick, better known as RachByTheGram. Rachel is the Founder and Creative Director of The Crew Mag, which is a digital publication about contemporary fashion and culture. It is one of my personal favorites as it does a great job of highlighting the androgyny of the fashion world today. Which is something you will learn about her as you read more of this article and follow her on Instagram. Which if you haven’t already, is something you definitely should do.
Sitting down with Rachel, we discussed who she is as a person, how she does it “by the gram,” and most importantly, why in her fashions does she choose to focus heavily on self-expression through edgy fashion and contemporary culture.
HFL: Who is Rachel?
@rachbythegram: Founder and EIC of the soon-to-launch publication “The Crew,” as well as a part-time social media strategist and full-time feminist. Most people in this space know me for my social media presence where I show my personal style and things I’m doing within the Chicago creative space. But aside from that, I’m genuinely interested in social topics and community development.
HFL: How do you do it for the gram?
@rachbythegram: For the gram, I only show a small portion of my life. I’m a pretty private person, so I try to keep my IG focused on my personal style and just what I think is relevant and cool at the moment. I’ve always loved fashion and style, so I try to showcase my approach by mixing feminine and masculine pieces, sneakers and dresses, designer and thrifted pieces, and just aiming to be creative with the things I wear and present to the world.
HFL: How did your upbringing expose you to different fashions and cultures?
@rachbythegram: First off I grew up in a really diverse place… east side of Cleveland to be exact. There is a substantial Eastern European immigrant population there, and with my dad being connected to that community and my mom’s family is from the South, I’ve always had an interesting mix of culture in my life. As kids, we traveled to Europe and down South, and I think both experiences showed me that the world was much bigger than just my surroundings. I was able to experience European culture and see how they approached style and luxury, and on the flip side, my mom’s family culture gave me that laid back American style of sneakers and jeans. Ultimately, I was always very interested in other cultures and how people translated their ideologies into their clothing. In Europe, I can remember buying every magazine I could and pouring over all of the editorials just because I was so fascinated with how they differed from American style/culture. I even had my parents order me French Vogue as a teenager so that I could study their style in the pre-internet days (and yes, I speak French).
HFL: What is your personal style aesthetic?
@rachbythegram: I would say I’m a feminine tomboy without the brand appeal. There is a line I’ve used on IG that says I’m “a girl who dresses like a boy but dresses like a girl sometimes, too.” I’ve been a tomboy for most of my life but I’m also a grown woman and very comfortable in my skin and with my feminine energy, so I try to exude both sides of myself when getting dressed while also remaining aware of what brands I’m supporting.
I’ll pair Jordans with a dress, or these tailored Alexander Wang dress pants with a t-shirt. But I always aim for a balance between the masculine and feminine, and also between designer and approachable. It’s easy to be “stylish” when you’re draped in luxury brands; much more difficult when you take the Supreme and Gucci logos off. I’m also very cognizant of how I present my femininity in today’s world. We are in such an interesting time of female empowerment and solidarity in supporting oppressed demographics, and yet it’s so common to see half-naked women on IG who are seemingly using their bodies for likes and follows. Not to venture down the road of feminism and morality, but it’s something that weighs heavily on me when I’m deciding what to wear, and more specifically how to present myself as a woman on the internet.
HFL: What makes fashion artistic?
@rachbythegram: Fashion, in and of itself, is an art form just like painting, mixed media, sculpture, etc. It takes an immense amount of creativity and skill to design, sketch, sew, bead, lace, and drape garments. And just as visual art is representative of a society’s culture at the moment, fashion is equally as representative of our ideologies. Fashion in its purest form is just what we wear, but when we take a more in-depth look, it’s much more than just fabric on our bodies. It’s telling a story of what we value, who we want to be in the world, where we are as a society regarding conservatism or liberalism, and ultimately it drives culture and society forward the same way some of the most famous artists have. So really fashion is our most accessible art form and one that we all take part in each day.
HFL: Who are your current fashion inspirations?
@rachbythegram: Right now I’m very much into girls with unique personal style and a story behind it. Sure, there are designers and houses that I love and admire, but I’m far more interested in how real girls translate fashion and culture into their everyday style. So I would have to say my biggest fashion inspirations right now are Sami Miro, Elizabeth De La Piedra, Ana Saber of @oursecondskin, Kristen Crawley, the stylists behind Bella Hadid, and forever and always my girl Aleali May.
HFL: How has living in Chicago altered your style?
@rachbythegram: Moving to Chicago definitely changed my style… or rather just made me feel more comfortable with what my style is. Having grown up in Cleveland, one of the worst dressed cities in the country (no shade, GQ said that lol), I was always the black sheep with my quirky, thrifted outfits or oversized tees and sweats. I never really felt comfortable being as outwardly creative as I was on the inside, so in a way, I dimmed my own light and kept my style pretty tame and acceptable. But once I moved here and saw that pretty much anything goes, you’re bound to find your tribe, and this city is just 100x more creative than Cleveland. I finally felt comfortable enough to wear what I truly wanted.
HFL: What was the last piece of clothing you bought?
@rachbythegram: The last thing I bought before this interview was a Helmut Lang t-shirt from SSENSE.com.
*Rapid Fire Questions*
HFL: Hot or Cold?
HFL: Black or White?
HFL: Polka Dots or Stripes
Rachel: Polka Dots
HFL: 80s or 90s?
HFL: Favorite pair of shoes all time?
Rachel: Jordan 1s
HFL: Finish this sentence. Style is…
Rachel: Representative of who you are and what you value at that time and place.
Written by: @Its_what_ev