3 Style Unicorns Who Don't Care About Trends

There's something to be said for women who can instantly grab your attention in a city of 8.5 million people. We're talking the kind who, despite being caught up in the chaos of bustling bodies and noisy racket, make you do a double take to fully download their looks. Rather than taking cues from others, they rely on their own keen sense of style and creativity to guide them toward an aesthetic that is unlike anyone else's. And, because they set the trends rather than follow 'em, we're always watching to see what they do next.

To bring women like this into focus, we tapped three sartorial-leaning New York transplants who don't give an eff about trends. Between a French-born folk-pop singer, a brand consultant from Toronto by way of Nigeria, and a museum director from Shanghai, this trio has quite the global POV to share. Outfitted in an eclectic mix of Gucci pieces and their own wardrobe heroes, each woman offers her unique take on why it's always better to forge your own style path. Read on and let these elusive gals inspire you to forget all the fashion rules.
Advertisement
Photo: Courtesy of Soko.
Soko | @sokothecat
Sure, Soko sits front row at fashion shows and stars in critically acclaimed films, but her real hustle is creating enchanting tunes as a solo musician and touring around the globe. We caught up with the French-born 31-year-old to learn about the origins of her punk-influenced style.

So what was your first memory of fashion?
"I grew up in the conservative countryside without a lot of money. My dream was to live in the city and to not have to buy my clothes from the supermarket. I would save up all of my pocket money — every coin — so that I could buy better clothes."

Tell us about your approach to dressing now.
"It's very vintage-oriented. I like the mix of punk and anime — similar to London in the '80s. Right now I love plaids, reds, platform shoes, and this jacket Gucci made for me. It has a cat on the back, studs everywhere, and hand-painted flowers. It's my favorite piece of clothing I've ever owned."

Do trends factor into your style at all?
"I don’t watch TV or read magazines, so I don’t really know what’s cool or not. I like what I like in the moment, and I don’t really look at what other people are doing so much."

Where's an unexpected place you look to for fashion inspiration?
"I always wear red shoes because of my favorite movie, The Red Shoes. It’s a '40s Technicolor film about a dancer — each time she puts on red shoes, she becomes passionate and focused. I have a crazy collection of red shoes now — they remind me to stay creative, devoted, and focused on what makes me happy."

You're no stranger to the red carpet. Is it as glamorous as it looks?
"I grew up so broke — I never thought I would be able to wear designer clothes and expensive things, so I love it. But I don't like stilettos and pointy shoes, or wearing anything that's uncomfortable. When I do have to walk a red carpet, I go for the goth-princess look with a pretty dress and chunky platforms."

What's your best eff-the-rules style advice?
"Wear all of your favorite pieces all at once. It might not all go together, but whatever."
Advertisement
Photo: Courtesy of Folasade Adeoso.
Folasade Adeoso | @lovefola
When 29-year-old Adeoso isn’t consulting for emerging brands or designing a collection of head wraps, she’s exploring a new city, somewhere — as evidenced by her Instagram feed. Here she reveals how her travels have inspired her vibrant, larger-than-life look.

You were born in Nigeria, raised in Toronto, and now live in New York City. Which place has shaped your style the most?
"I didn't start to develop my sense of style until I moved to New York City in 2008. It's a city that allows you to be bold and evolve. I don't have to stick to any cultural or societal norms, because everyone's so open. The city gives you permission to be who you are."

With such a global upbringing, it's easy to see how you developed a deep-rooted passion for travel. Aesthetically speaking, i
s there a destination that you connect with most?
"Miami. The colors, the vibes, the sun — the city allows me the freedom to wear shorts and sunglasses all year. I can embrace my womanhood and not have to worry about covering up."

What is that one piece that transcends every place you've traveled — that one item of clothing or accessory that you could wear anywhere?
"My head wraps. No matter where I go — whether it be Miami, New York City, or Nigeria — it's something that's always embraced. People always stop me and say, 'Hey, that’s a beautiful head wrap."'

Are there any trends from the past that you regret following?
"Clothing-wise, no, because I never really followed them. But I was big on hair trends and used to wear a lot of weaves. It was extremely damaging to my hair — I realized I was taking care of this false image more than myself. So I cut it all off when I was 20 and that's when I started to come into my own style."

When you're ready to switch up your look, where do you seek out inspiration?
"I went to Senegal this year and was so inspired by everyone's stylish-yet-traditional clothing. The colors and fabrics inspire a bright, positive mood. Also, Nigerian women are always my biggest inspiration. When Nigerians party, they dress to show off — it’s madness, but it’s beautiful. They have so much pride when it comes to their style."
Photo: Courtesy of JiaJia Fei.
JiaJia Fei | @vajiajia
As the digital director of the Jewish Museum, 29-year-old Fei's style is punctuated by nods to art and design. Previously, she held posts at the Guggenheim and has worked fervently to bring technology and the art world closer together. Below, see how both elements have impacted her eclectic way of dressing.

How has your work transformed your style?
"In New York, you see such a wide variety of cultures and people, and the different ways individuals express themselves. Professionally, I used to wear all-black all the time, but after seeing my art-world colleagues break the mold and wear bold prints, I started to branch out and dress in a way that fulfilled who I was. Despite working within a very traditional institution and field of study, you can still have your own voice and express yourself with color, design, and even architecture through clothing."

Is there one artist who embodies your style aesthetic the most?
"It really depends, because I’ll go from a very minimalist look to something with a lot of color and prints. Because I often opt for primary colors, I'd say Ellsworth Kelly, a painter who always critically examined color."

What's your point of view on trends?
"I stopped paying attention to trends in middle school. There have been so many stages of weird fashions that come and go, and one day I just realized I wasn't comfortable in styles that weren’t mine. I did a lot of shopping at thrift stores and was always attracted to clothing that wasn’t orthodox or similar to what everybody else had."

Has there ever been a trend that's appealed to you?
"This year, athleisure has been really big, and I do like that style has transitioned into an area of comfort, which, within the history of fashion, has not always been the case. I think a lot of designers have interpreted this in different ways, but I’m glad clothes are now becoming more accessible and geared for everyday wear."

How do you distinguish yourself on Instagram in this very saturated fashion space?
"You have to stay true to your own aesthetic and vision. Because it’s so public I think it’s very easy for people to try to be somebody else, but I think it's also a very honest medium in that you can see right through it. I would just encourage people to do whatever feels authentic and do it with integrity."

What's the role of fashion and art in propelling our country forward in a divisive time like the present?
"It’s the responsibility of artists and thinkers to use the tools of their time and their mediums to reach as many people as possible. They need to express freedom of speech, motivate change, and rally the public to move toward progress. So I actually look forward to seeing what artists and creatives end up doing with this material."
Advertisement