Celebrity Stylist Karla Welch on Thrifting & Newfound Love for Sweats

As the effects of climate change continue to bear down on us like the sun’s heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, the fashion industry has been forced to come to terms with its own role in the crisis. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in 2018, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions accounted for between 2 and 8% of the global total, while the textile industry continues to be a major contributor to the plastic dumped in our oceans. . Of course, the exponential rise of fast fashion doesn’t help, with people going through jeans like handkerchiefs.

Now, with Coachella upon us, the problem is only exacerbated. According to online consignment store thredUP, 42% of festival-goers say this year they’ll buy a brand new outfit for the occasion, and 1 in 3 customers will only wear that outfit once. Because of that, celebrity stylist Karla Welch has teamed up with thredUP to encourage festival-goers to save their look this time around. Welch has dressed Sarah Paulson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Justin Bieber (she also added his wife, Hailey, to her roster last year) for red carpets around the world, and now she’s lending her skills to thredUP. Welch has collected eight festival-ready outfits for purchase on thredup.com, and is also sharing pieces from her own closet to dig into. Here, she talks about her partnership with the online thrift store, how her love for vintage shopping was born, and why she’s finally embracing sweatpants for the first time in her life.

How did your partnership with thredUP come about?

I’ve been a thredUP fan for a while. I’m a big fan of savings in general. That’s really how I started doing hair, for budgetary reasons when I was a teenager. So they contacted me and gave me stats on festival fast fashion. I’m not going to shame anyone for using fast fashion. It’s a bigger conversation. But there are small things you can do to have a big personal impact, and by saving you can get something truly unique while doing something good for your wallet and the planet.

What can people expect to find in your thredUP store?

Lots of cool tops, denim and bright colors. It’s the full range of what I would wear, what I think maybe an 18 year old would wear and just some cool pieces that will add a bit of individual flair.

Fashion is not a very environmentally friendly industry. As a stylist, how do you handle that?

As for this wheel, I’m just one person in it. When talking about fast fashion, you have to look at the top of the structure. By the time the clothes reach me, the clothes are made. I do not participate in this decision making, but I can certainly call it. I encourage people I work with to wear a look twice, especially if no one saw them the first time. I’m very specific about what I bring to make sure I have the least impact on the planet.

How do you make sure you dress each of your customers in their own unique way?

I think it’s just my business card. You get to know someone, what direction they want to go, and go from there. I really think about them and what we’re trying to say and then figure out how to articulate that through the clothes. So it’s a real process. It’s very internal. Everything for me is incredibly well thought out. I spend time making sure that I help build the best version of my client.

Justin Bieber in custom Balenciaga and Hailey Bieber in Saint Laurent, styled by Welch for the 2022 Grammys.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

When did you decide to become a stylist?

It’s easy to say, but when I was a kid I loved fashion, and I think when I realized that styling was a job, I leaned into it. It was kind of lucky, but I just started doing film shoots and ad campaigns, and I started working with musicians, and all of a sudden, one day, I was like, ” Oh wow, I have a career.”

On matters of style notes. What is your favorite outfit for a typical day?

The pandemic has changed that. I never thought I’d be wearing sweatpants in my life, but I was like, “Oh wait, that’s great. So that was a profound realization for me – that sweatpants are amazing. But if I wear sweatpants, I wear them with nice socks, a nice shoe and a blazer. I like a suit. And of course, I love a great pair of vintage 501s, one of my t-shirts and a jacket.

Describe your style in three words.

Classic. Costs. Of boy.

What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?

Once my sister gave me a card and she said, “Good clothes open doors. I’ve always taken that to heart. “Good clothes” doesn’t mean expensive clothes – that’s something amazing about thredUP. The quality and quantity of parts they offer is truly amazing. For some people, fashion is intimidating, but if you can find a few must-have pieces for yourself, you’ll feel good and there’s a change that happens when you feel like that in your clothes.

Do you remember your first major fashion purchase?

Not really. I remember buying my first piece of Prada 20 years ago. It’s this beautiful silk shirt with a pussy bow; I always wear it. I remember buying Nicolas Ghesquière’s black leather motorcycle jacket for Balenciaga. At the time, I certainly didn’t have the money for it. It was more than a mortgage payment, but I wanted this jacket so badly that I bought it and figured out how to pay for it on credit. This jacket got me so many customers because people were like, “Oh my God. I love this jacket. And then I think I sold about 10.

Who do you look to for styling inspiration?

Nobody. Style inspiration at this age is very intuitive. I don’t look to anyone for inspiration, but I look everywhere at the same time, like in movies and concerts. But I never really look at anything and think, “I’m going to recreate that. It’s not my dance.

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