whowhatwear– I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that Wisdom Kaye is one of the most influential fashion boys on the Internet right now. If you don’t believe me, take two seconds to scroll through his social media accounts where you will see prestigious partnerships and recognition from some of the biggest names in the business including Dior, Fendi, Coach, and more. Despite the much-deserved hype from luxury brands, Kaye’s most reputable platform, TikTok, is actually centered much more on accessibility than it is on designer labels (those are just a perk). From how to make an outfit with just $24 to how to style heeled boots, Wisdom Kaye has proven he is quite literally a one-stop-shop for all of your fashion needs and desires.
This 19-year-old Texan quickly managed to make getting dressed one of the most entertaining subjects on the app which, in turn, resulted in his 5.2 million follower count. Believe it or not, Kaye only joined TikTok one year ago. His first-ever video was a quick compilation of some of his favorite ‘fits and it wasn’t long after that he dove right into the “how-to” side of the app where he began to inform, inspire, and entertain his followers. His overall aesthetic both sartorially and creatively have also landed him a modeling contract with IMG, multiple mentions on Vogue, and his latest partnership with American Eagle.
Accolades aside, the major draw of Wisdom Kaye is his relatable and transparent personality. He shops at Target, when he gets a gift from Dior, he freaks out (because who wouldn’t?!), and when his followers speak, he listens. Although Kaye’s popularity almost feels as though it happened overnight, there is no denying that he is no longer on the rise, he’s officially arrived. Below, read our exclusive interview with everyone’s favorite fashion boy as we chat about his personal style development, his thoughts on diversity in the fashion industry, and more.
Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with fashion? When did it really start becoming a big part of your life and presence on social media?
Fashion started becoming a part of my life and social media almost exactly a year ago. It was January of 2020 when I was at college and discovered more about my style. It was my first time being independent and in a new place and there were different kinds of stores around me. It was particularly vintage stores where I felt the most comfortable—stores that focus on vintage ‘70s pieces, flare pants, cowboy boots—all of that really inspired me.
Were you a stylish kid in school/growing up?
I can’t really say that I was growing up. I was quite the opposite. I mean, like most people, I liked wearing certain colors with others, but it wasn’t anything that was fashionable. [For the] majority of my life fashion was never really an interest. It only became of interest around the end of junior high/the beginning of high school. I wanted to fit in with everyone else at the time, so I tried dressing like other people. However, eventually, in my quest for acceptance from others, I learned to accept myself and put less emphasis on what the next person may think.
I know I personally discovered you via TikTok as I’m sure a lot of others have. What was the moment you realized you had really “made it” on the platform?
I think it was the moment when I started getting contacted by iconic brands like American Eagle, who are now like family to me, and agencies that made me realize that my TikTok presence was actually going beyond what I expected. The day IMG contacted me I knew that all my work on TikTok had definitely paid off.
Your fans are so good about giving you ideas for your videos. I love how much you’ve inspired them to think outside the box when it comes to fashion. What are some of your favorite videos you’ve created from their comments?
I think my favorite videos have to be the emoji outfit videos. That trend was actually started by @the.navarose on TikTok and my fans wanted to see me do it as well, and it was surprisingly really fun making outfits from random emojis.
Men in heels. Let’s talk about it. And then tell me some of your favorite ways to style your favorite pairs?
THEY WERE LITERALLY MADE FOR US. Historically, men wore heels first to facilitate horseback riding and since have symbolized many different things. Today, since the majority of the population is not riding horses, a heel is literally just additional height—that’s all. Whether it’s one inch or five inches, it makes one look taller. I think the argument that wearing heels says something about your sexuality is ridiculous. It’s literally footwear. Footwear does not change the type of person you like.
With that being said, I’ll wear a heeled boot of any height (so long as I like the boot as a whole, of course) and honestly, I wear them with any type of pants, especially my AE jeans that seem to pair with just about anything. I have these Rick Owens Kiss boots with a five-inch heel that I wear with different fitting pants— slim, wide—they go with a lot.
Men in jewelry. Let’s also talk about it. What are some of your favorite jewelry pieces or trends right now?
Accessorizing is really important in my opinion because It can really enhance a look! If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like dressing up too much, accessorizing can help your outfit look better than it really is. I think pearl necklaces look great on guys. I’m also a fan of wearing like 2-3 necklaces that work well with each other.
What advice would you give to men who are a bit shy when it comes to showcasing their personality through their clothing?
I would say I completely understand you. It’s not easy wearing who you are and having everyone perceive that. Going about in banal clothing is much more comfortable—no one asks any questions. But I say if it’s something you really desire then you have to just do it. No matter what anyone does there will also be people who have something to say. You could rescue three cats from a tree and someone’s going to ask why you didn’t save four!
As daunting as it is, I find solace in the understanding that not everyone is going to understand me or what I’m wearing, and that’s okay. So I implore my guys who are too shy to wear what they want, dressing how they feel out of fear of external scrutiny, to just wear what makes you happy. Someone somewhere is probably already saying something about the outfit you’re wearing that isn’t really YOU, so then just wear YOU!
What are some spring trends you’re looking forward to wearing this season?
I’m looking forward to wearing a lot of color and a lot of patterns. Men’s fashion is more colorful and detailed than ever and I’m a really big fan of that, so I definitely want to experience that for myself. I’m loving AE’s Super Soft Icon T-Shirt which comes in just about every color imaginable and these AirFlex+ Temper Tech Athletic Skinny, because you cannot go wrong with a tried and true jean.
I know you love designers like Hedi Slimane and Rick Owens, but what are some smaller brands you’re loving and supporting right now?
These brands aren’t necessarily small by any means but in comparison to the Ricks and Saint Laurent of the world I feel like there’s not as much discussion around them. I’m really into AMI Paris, Heliot Emil, and Bethany Williams.
What are 3 items in your closet you really couldn’t live without?
This is so hard!!! But I think the best way to answer this is to look at the items I wear the most. I have a pair of black Guidi front zips that I wear more than any other boot. I wear them for pictures or just to run errands—they’re comfortable and stylish and easy to wear. I also have these big ‘70s-esque frames that I wear often. I kind of like having something on my face and I’m a big fan of oversized things, especially glasses, so I wear them quite often.
It’s also really important for me to be comfortable, and some of the most comfortable jeans I’ve found are by AE; really into their AirFlex+ collection. Lastly, would have to be my beanies and/or bandanas. Sometimes, honestly, I just don’t feel like doing anything to my hair so I just slap a beanie on it or tie a bandana around my head. With beanies specifically, they can provide a pop of color and can really transform an outfit so I really value those.
What’s one thing you wish would change when it comes to conversations around diversity in the fashion industry?
I think diversity should start from within. In my opinion, though both are important, I think it’s more important than those who are pulling the strings are who we want to represent us as opposed to who we SEE being represented. If internally you have a creative team that’s of course great and passionate about their craft that’s diverse, then your results will show that genuinely and naturally. You’ll see the diversity in the results be it a campaign like my recent campaigns with AE, runway, an editorial, a movie, or whatever the medium might be. If the people in control are a non-diverse group, then efforts to be inclusive are executed poorly due to a lack of proper understanding or worse, disinterest. No one is better fit to understand a group than a member of that group. I think it’s best to have who is being represented be in charge of how the representation is delivered, and that all starts internally, meaning more diversity in staff, creative teams, meetings, directorship, and I think that will transcribe itself into the work.
What other black fashion creators are currently on your radar?
From the brand and designer side, I’ve been a big fan of Heron Preston, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Telfar Clemens as well. I own a few things from each of their respective labels and I enjoy the creativity that they display in their work. From the model and photographer lens, I love the work of people like Deon Hinton, Alton Mason, and Nicholas Wolf. Deon is a big inspiration as he’s someone who operates being in front of the camera as well. Alton is of course indisputably the best male model in the world and his work leaves me amazed every single time. I love the work ethic of Nicholas Wolf and what he does with his own label; I can’t wait for him to take over one day.