This Instagram of Justin Bieber really sent me into a tizzy.
Here’s Justin Bieber, suddenly, quietly, casually leaning against the wall of my Instagram feed, in an outfit that I’d love to wear (tap for credits and you’ll find that his top is Amiri; pants, Dickies; hat not tagged but easy enough to find similar options) with what I’ll go ahead and say is a cup of Arizona Ice Tea, no ice — I assume it melted, and a crunched aluminum can that used to hold said beverage. If it were me I might add a simple strappy kind of 90s heeled sandal.
I’m very into it. Plus the hair, and the mustache. I like the whole style package. The overall look is a contentious topic — some people call it “scumbro“; I’m inclined to use the word “hot”; The Cut likened his wardrobe as of late to all sorts of guys they knew, which, given the list, can be mean different things to everybody, a real “choose your own adventure” of lovers-past, nostalgic associations and questionable decisions. If I were to add my own, it would be those who long ago left my heart in some way aflutter.
What I really like about the whole picture, though — meaning this specific look, and Justin Bieber’s overall outfits as of late — is that it’s clear Justin Bieber has, if only temporarily (because style is ever-evolving), found his fashion niche. He appears happy and confident and comfortable in these clothes. He’s in love, in these clothes. In these clothes, he looks like he has that spring in his step that says, “I found these perfect pants on a total whim, wasn’t even looking for anything specific in the store, but they were on sale so I said why not and now they’ve changed my ENTIRE METHOD OF GETTING DRESSED.” I get that. One right shoe can turn you into the person you suspected you’ve always been and wha-bam: out goes all your old ankle booties from 2010, never to be called upon again.
I have no doubt that Justin is on a journey. We all are, at the core of it, aren’t we? But behind this great style transformation is, of course, a talented stylist: the great Karla Welch, a true delight to follow on Instagram, self-described freedom fighter, founder of xkarla (you know I love those T-shirts), co-founder of Meritocracy, former Monocycle guest, and, among the knock-ya-on-your-butt resumé of cool people she’s dressed, there’s her fashion friendship with Justin.
For all that is high-watered and well-socked in this world: I had about a five-minutes window to talk to her about it.
Now, MR’s edit team had all sorts of questions for her about Bieber’s recent outfits (“Does he text you looks and say ‘this.’?” — Haley Nahman, Deputy Editor), and please, feel free to ask your own questions down in the comments; hopefully anyone who needs a work break can join you down there and cogitate about it. But in the meantime, below are the questions we did ask, and Karla answered:
Did you two sit down and intentionally decide to change his look or this happen gradually/organically?
It’s so organic. From the beginning, we just both sort of got each other. I would [basically] operate blind and show up with stuff. He always liked it. I’d sometimes get a text from tour saying, “I need a new white look,” and I would literally make a custom look in two days and ship it somewhere in the world. Of all my clients, I owe my nerves of steel and calmness to Justin. Actually more: He’s so fearless that it makes me fearless, too!
When you’re styling someone for their day-to-day lives (as opposed to just red carpet events/concerts), how do you style them? Is it a daily, continual text conversation where you help instruct what shoe to wear with pants? Is it that you arm the person with wardrobe items that you know will work together and let them have at it? How does all of this work?
I’m really not a day-to-day stylist. I just send him stuff I love and know he will love and then he mixes it all as he sees fit. Sometimes I’ll send an image and say, “I think this is the vibe we should go to…”
And is Justin Bieber discerning when it comes to these choices, or does he prefer to let you make the selects?
Depends. He’s pretty discerning. But he know knows how much I LOVE when he says, “What are you thinking?” Like he seriously knows it makes my life to get my way!
What came first: the mustache and hair, then his new style, or the new style, then mustache and hair to pair with? (And whose decision was the hair, and the mustache?)
Who came first, Justin or Justin? There is no one more ahead of the curve than him! Fearless. I love it!
Are you familiar with the word “scumbro” that’s being used to describe this look, and what are your thoughts on the term?
Ha. Well, I guess it keeps wordsmiths in business.
We could all use a little more aloha in our lives, people!
Feature photo by SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images via Getty Images.