Earlier this year we looked at 3 stylists to watch in 2023, who I predicted were going to do amazing things. Now that it’s the end of the year I’m looking back at other stylists that have made waves this year. I spoke to some established stylists with different backgrounds and work styles about their journey, what they wish they knew when they started, and what’s next.
To kick off this series, l sat down with Jay Hines. When Hines started styling he didn’t even know it could be a career – he was just styling his friends as a passion project alongside his retail job. In 2018, he decided to take it seriously and since then he’s had a meteoric rise to success. Mads Mikkelsen, Willem Dafoe, Common, Mike Tyson and Chiwetel Ejiofor are just a few of the names that Hines has styled so far and he has no plans of slowing down. Open, honest and calmly confident, Hines is testament to the fact that a clear vision and self belief can make your dreams a reality. This message is exactly what Hines wants to communicate to the next generation of stylists.
JR: You mainly (albeit not solely) style men, when you do style women how is that different?
JH: Womenswear is so intricate, so diverse and has so many different layers. With menswear there are also different layers but it’s still a bit simpler than women’s clothing. There are just more pieces in womenswear, it’s more complicated but equally more fun because in that complication, mad beauty comes out of it. Sequins, different silhouettes, sculpted pieces and then we have the androgynous route. A lot of my male clients are experimental but clothing that is made with men in mind can be easily worn by women, it’s often more complemented to put men in silhouettes designed for women. But that’s where stylists come in, working with designers on custom pieces or altering silhouettes, adding womenswear elements to menswear, etc. I think that’s really cool.
JR: Alongside styling, you’re a fashion editor at Flaunt Magazine. How did you start with them and build to being an editor?
JH: When I first started I was emailing loads of people to work for free. It’s what you have to do at the start of your career, because the opportunities are invaluable. I got to work with great actors, singers and artists. Then I did my first two big covers with them in 2019. One with Jaden Smith and one with Juice Wrld. which pushed my career forward. That led to me styling Juice for his Europe tour and we were planning for his world tour before he sadly passed away. Around the same time, I helped creative direct Jaden’s album as well and then we kept working together. So, I just asked “do you need a Europe editor?” I believe you have to ask for opportunities because you won’t just be given them. We had a meeting where I shared my vision and they bought into that. Again, back to my 5 year plan I always knew I wanted to break into the American market, Flaunt is a LA based magazine so what they were doing aligned with where I wanted to go. So I’ve been a contributing fashion editor since 2020. They’ve always been super supportive. I love Matthew, Mui Hai and the whole team.
JR: Then you also have Osal studios?
JH: Yeah, Osal is a creative solutions agency. At the moment we focus on creating content for brands for their platforms. We also do small productions for photoshoots and video shoots. It started as an idea with my friends Grant, Sérgio, Koby and I. We’re steadily growing alongside other projects we’re doing.
JR: If you could go back to your first year of styling what things did you wish you knew or things you did?
JH: Personally, I didn’t assist anyone, I tried to assist but it just didn’t work out for me. But I would tell people to definitely assist, you can get jobs way quicker, you get paid way quicker, that way you’ll be actually able to earn a bit of money, instead of struggling the way I did. So, I’ll definitely say to assist. Also just write out your vision and really plan meticulously. Approach [your vision] and attack it because I feel like a lot of people say: “Ah, I want to do this but will I really make this my full time job?” I just say to people just attack it, attack it. Because, I’m just a normal guy, working class family. I didn’t grow up with a lot, you know. And now working with William Defoe, Mike Tyson, all these huge actors, and now I’m about to go live in America, in Hollywood. So I always tell people, if I can do it, and just follow my own plan, you can definitely do it. So that’s what I’d say. Stay focused. And also there’s a lot of people that will be negative and shady. I always tell people to stay focused on what you’re doing. Keep people that you love around you, that will uplift you and believe in your vision. I think that’s just so important. I think a lot of people say, “Oh, believe in the vision” but for real believe in it because it can happen.
JR: Stylists have been the backbone of the fashion industry for years but recently now more than ever the idea of what a stylist is and does is becoming mainstream knowledge. Some people see this notability as a positive, some see this as negative. How if at all has this increase in visibility of the styling industry affected your work?
JH: I think it’s been sick! Especially for young black kids like me. Some of them might not make it into football, some of them might not be the smartest, some of them might not be the most business savvy, you know, and some of them might just be in the area thinking, what else can I be? I can’t do anything else. I’m just gonna go work a normal job. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But at least they know that there’s an option of a creative job. I could be a fashion designer now or a photographer or a stylist or an editor. I think that’s the main thing for me that I wanted to spread to people in my area, when people see me, they know I’m just a normal guy from South London that was on stupidness with my friends just doing dumb stuff, but now I’m out here. Just to let them know that this is also an option. And I thank God that I’ve been able to translate that on social media and stuff to show them that you can be successful, you can make decent money and you can do positive stuff, and be in the fashion industry. It’s not like it was back in the day when people would laugh. It’s not like that. Now it doesn’t have a negative connotation to it. Yeah, I can wear what I want, you can be who you want, you can express yourself and just be do and be whatever you want. Without your peers questioning you.
JR: What are your future goals that you’re happy to share because I know many people understandably don’t want to share everything but what are some things you’re open to sharing.
JH: I’m trying to have all my friends with me. I’m trying to be in Los Angeles, between Los Angeles and Europe. I’m trying to have Osal studios doing extremely well. I’ve also now started a PR company with a close friend of mine, Joash called Blanck Spce.
But the biggest thing for me is I just want to be happy and healthy for my family and friends to be happy and healthy.
JR: And the immediate next steps for you?
JH: There’s a lot to come. But the next step is I want to take America by storm. I love London, the culture, the people but I think America is the next step. I want new inspiration. I want to get to the next level. I want to be shocked. That’s no shade to any UK stylists, they’re my peers, they’re my friends. But I want that Law Roach level.
JR: We see that with red carpets in the UK vs the USA. There’ll be very different levels of looks between the brits and the Grammys for example, even with the same talent and styling team.JH: Yeah, we have amazing creatives in the UK, stylists, designers, artists but I’m not sure why that happens. Maybe it’s budget I’m not sure. Or because America is just geographically bigger. That’s no disrespect to the talent here like I said we have incredible creatives. But when I see the Oscars and the Grammys, that’s the level I want to be at. When I see that I’m inspired.
JR: It is an interesting conversation though because we have amazing designers and stylists but for some reason when they all come together over here something is missing.
JH: It might be the budgets, I don’t know. I love the UK, it’s my home. I love the people, the way we are, my friends, my family. London will always be my home but for the next stage of my career I’m excited.
After sitting down with Hines, I’m excited too. It’s no surprise that throughout his career people have bought into his vision. It’s clear, it’s logical, he has the results to back it up and it seems to be the source of his calm yet justifiably confident demeanour. Genuinely an enjoyable conversation with someone who is passionate about his work and his success but equally making sure that he builds a ladder for those coming up after him. Only 5 years in and already having exponentially success, the next 5 are surely going to be exciting to watch from the sidelines.