When discussing our own wardrobe and style essentials, Coveteur staffers found their feelings could often be summed up with the phrase, “it’s literally the best … white t-shirt, pair of jeans, drugstore find, etc.” So, in our new series, fittingly titled Literally the Best, we’re asking industry insiders to reveal the style essentials they turn to over and over again and simply can’t live without.
Gia Kuan is a name both well-known and well-respected in the fashion industry. Head of her own public relations firm, she represents some of the coolest names in the business—Telfar, Luar, Kim Shui, and more. Between personal and professional relationships—did we mention her husband works at Stüssy?—Kuan’s knowledge of emerging and under-the-radar design talent is both immense and enviable.
Despite her professional capabilities, Kuan has yet to renounce her youth aesthetically—a notion evident in the heaping piles of beads and clashing colors you’ll find in all her ensembles. Compound that with a nod to what she describes as her “‘90s emo Chrome Hearts phase,” and you have a highly intriguing collection of everything from jade hoops to corseted t-shirts to Stüssy sweatpants. Below she gives us a glimpse of her personal style and walks us through the essentials she absolutely swears by.
Paint us a picture of your personal style. What sort of outfits are you wearing on a day-to-day basis?
“Honestly, my style changes so much. One thing that probably defines a little bit of my style is that no matter how old I get, there’s always a little bit of teenager in me. I like things that are cute, that are a little bit funny. I own my own business now. In that sense, I feel like I’ve started to dress differently since then. At the moment, I’m probably channeling a sort of boss-lady look where I’m a little lazy and don’t want to think too much about what I’m wearing before I go out.
“I’m a huge eBay shopper. I buy a lot of secondhand, a lot of vintage designers. I think my wardrobe is probably a mix between vintage designers as well as emerging, independent designers. I collect a lot of two-piece suits from vintage designers on eBay, too. A lot of old Jean Paul Gaultier, old Banana Republic or Ralph Lauren. I buy them oversized and lounge in them all day with a hoodie underneath. Then, I’ll top that with a hand-beaded necklace or bracelet that looks like a 5-year-old made it. That’s my style. I think I need something a little funny and cute and young to keep me going. Plus, I accessorize through my nails.”
When purchasing a new item of clothing or an accessory, what are the boxes you’re looking to check?
“I am quite aesthetically driven. I think sustainability does come into practice, but I have to say the No. 1 thing, I think, is comfort or practicality. I work at home a lot. I lounge a lot. I feel like everyone lives the same life right now. You wear something cute on the top, and actually, you’re wearing pajama bottoms no one can see.
“I look at comfort, but I also look at color. I have this problem with buying anything black for my wardrobe, which is funny because I feel like I used to have so many black clothes when I was in college, going through this Rick Owens, dark, moody phase. Now, you can’t find anything dark in my wardrobe. I think I’m just a very colorful person [right now]. There’s a huge emphasis on print and textures in my closet, which I think is often something I look for, especially because I shop online so much. I think a lot of the differentiating factors when you are shopping online is that color pop. (It’s kind of hard to shop black online.) It makes me happy. I’m a person who is very much affected by weather and color, so I think sometimes my mood determines what I’m wearing that day and vice versa.”
Shop Gia’s Must-Haves:
“Weslah is a New York–based, sort of underground independent designer. He’s super-talented; everything he makes is really bespoke. He specializes in these crazy corset pieces. A lot of them were customized for either entertainers or celebrities, but last summer, he came out with t-shirts and hoodies that have the Weslah logo on the front but still a little gothic grunge. Then they have super-tight corseted waists. I love a twist on a basic thing. I honestly love this piece. I wear it with anything from sweatpants to suit pants to skirts. He’s a genius.”
“I’m really big on jewelry. It’s honestly my main form of investment because I really never take it off, not even when I shower. I have a stack of rings that I always wear. One of them is a very thin Chrome Hearts ring that has little diamond embellishments on it. It brings me back to my ’90s emo Chrome Hearts phase that I’ve been revisiting recently.”
“I went to Dover Street Market and found Suzanne Kalan. She specializes in these kind of spaghetti-looking diamond rings and bangles. Probably my most expensive investment, I bought an emerald-cut ring that has a rose gold finish. I stack it with my others, and I love it because, as you know, I do my nails a lot. Honestly, my hands are probably the most embellished part of my entire body, so accessorizing them is especially important to me. I love sparkles so all my rings have sparkles or diamonds or something on them.”
“On my other hand, I have this ring from Comme des Garçons that I’ve honestly been wearing since 2013. I’ve worn it for so long that when I take it off, I realize my finger is a different shape underneath. It looks like the traditional school champion ring, but it’s sterling silver. It’s super, super sturdy and I’ve been wearing it for almost seven-eight years. It’s definitely a staple I never take off—just part of my uniform now.”
Comme des Garçons
“I wear a lot of different hoops. Sophie Buhai is one of my favorites in terms of simple hoops done well. I have a lot of her gold and silver hoops, but recently, I bought her jade hoops which I’ve been wearing a lot. They’re nostalgic because jade, in Chinese culture, is a type of stone that we use. I think she’s done that particularly well.”
“I’m actually wearing this Commission sweater right now. Honestly, this is the most beautiful cashmere piece I own. It’s baby blue with a loose turtleneck. I respect so much what the Commission boys do in terms of design and philosophy. I was lucky enough to receive this sweater from them last year. I don’t even have anything else this color, but I’ve been wearing it all winter and it just feels incredibly luxe.”
“I have a rotation of Stüssy sweatpants. My husband works at Stüssy. We just have a lot of Stüssy. But honestly, their sweatpants are the most comfortable, and I also share them with him. I like a lot of oversized clothing, so we do half-share a wardrobe. They’re just great basic sweatpants, but I obviously have to get them in crazy colors and prints. I’m wearing them right now with my Commission cashmere sweater.”
“Kozaburo is a Japanese brand founded by Kozaburo Akasaka. He’s a close friend of mine with an amazing Japanese brand. This one’s a very simple white hoodie that I got from him over the winter. It’s made out of a very organic cotton—very heavyweight, so it doesn’t pill like a lot of my other hoodies. It almost feels a little bit crunchy, but there’s something about it that is kind of amazing. I live in hoodies. I also got it in like an XL so, again, super-oversized.”
“Oori Ott is a brand based in L.A. by my friend Hannah Park who used to live in New York. She does these amazing, very basic takes on jersey lounge clothing. There’s this pair of black jersey sweatpants that I got from her—I’ve had them for like four years, and they’re really the most comfortable things. It’s light jersey material, but there’s a high slit on the very top of your thigh so they kind of flow around when you walk on both sides, which is great during the summer. Then for winter, I just layer stockings or leggings underneath, and it still works. I wear them indoors and outdoors. They are black, and I barely have anything black that has lasted me for so long.” (Similar option linked here).