Her spunky fashion sense stands out in a crowd, and her shoes are not to be missed. Leandra Medine, founder of Man Repeller, who uses personal style “as a way to better understand and therefore navigate the world,” continues to build her fashion empire. With a new shoe collaboration on the way, the social media guru talks to FN about trends, Instagram moments and the constantly evolving digital world.
How has the blogging world changed since you started in 2010?
“There is not a finite fashion blogging world anymore. It seems sort of diminutive to think of it that way. A lot of the bloggers who started sprouting around the same time as I did have retreated entirely to mobile, which makes sense because that’s the way times are changing. It’s hard to demand attention from a desktop these days. In many ways, the personal-style bloggers of my generation are going to have to become a new form of ‘reality television star.’
“Instagram is the literal future manifestation of what reality TV once was. We are seeing the way the industry has evolved and the way media is moving. A person as a publisher is becoming more accepted. People are commanding enormous audiences, and it’s important to continue generating a thoughtful business.
“But Man Repeller has taken a bit of a different direction; we have a team and are still operating predominantly on desktops. It’s exciting to see how quickly you can change your model if it’s not working anymore.”
Would you have done anything differently?
“I don’t think the biggest lesson I’ve learned since I started working has much to do with the evolution of the industry as much as it does needing to find an altruistic purpose in your work. What I have found is if you’re not working toward something that’s actually going to facilitate the world becoming a better place in some capacity, it’s easy to burn out. I’ve been so lucky to come this far with Man Repeller. Even if nothing happens after this point, what a ride it has been. I started this thing as a joke.”
What shoe brands are you excited about for spring ’17?
“I’m always interested in the escapist stuff that Charlotte Olympia does. I like all of the shoes that The Row is putting out. They are doing a nice job with their footwear. I also like Prada, and Dries Van Noten makes great shoes. I’ve been in pursuit of a pair of completely clear sandals, and I’ve been wearing a lot of plain slides.”
Do you have a dream partner for a shoe collaboration?
“It would be fun to work with a brand that’s a little more heritage, like Gianvito Rossi, because they already have such great silhouettes in place. So I would be able to add a little quirk to them. I would be the person bringing the whack — that’s the advantage I bring. I’m not going to go and take silly shoes and make them more streamlined. I’d prefer to take streamlined shoes and make them a [little] bit more silly.”
What stands out as a recent game-changing fashion moment?
“The Vetements show was an exciting and interesting piece for me. It was an interesting and smart example of how the fashion system is being changed by a company that is so small, but as a result of its size, so agile. They are producing 17 collaborations for that collection, which sort of makes the brand a department store itself. That shows the times we are living in — a person doesn’t have to be just one thing. That’s cool.”
Who are your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
“Gray Malin is a photographer, and I like his work. Infatuation has an Instagram account dedicated to ice cream. I like to follow that, too. I’m also obsessed with looking at fine jewelry and searching hashtags to discover new stuff.”
Is there a pair of shoes you can’t live without when traveling?
“I like to travel to places where I don’t have to wear shoes. For me, vacation is about being able to not put on shoes the entire time if you don’t need to. I guess if we’re talking in terms of Fashion Week [packing], it’s whatever shoes I wear on the plane. Maybe Gucci loafers right now, but it totally changes per season.”
Do you have a first designer shoe memory?
“I have always been a big fan of footwear. When I was a senior in high school, I saved up $425 to get a pair of Jimmy Choos, which I wore to my prom. That was the first time that I exercised discipline and worked hard, made money and got to feel the benefit of using that money without having to ask someone to help me.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, what is on your agenda?
“We’re continuing to build our company and focusing a lot on nurturing and fostering a strong community. I have a shoe collaboration with Six London launching in November, with nine styles for Net-A-Porter.”