Brookline Resident Helped Style Chart-Topping Act Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
When chart-topping rap cohorts Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were in Boston recently, sweeping through college campuses to put on end-of-the-year performances for students, they found out they were going to be featured on the cover of Billboard Magazine for their continuing streak as number-one selling artists.
Instead of flying out of the city to set up a photo shoot for the special occasion, however, the Seattle-bred hip-hop act, famous for their tracks “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” decided instead to enlist the help of local stylists and photographers to get the job done.
After pulling in Ian Travis Barnard, a Boston photographer, to take the pictures for the magazine, Brookline resident and Karmaloop employee Heather White helped head stylist Justin Reis put together the pair’s outfits. Using clothing retailers like Boylston Trading Company, Karmaloop, and Louis Boston, Reis and White got the chance to style both Macklemore and Lewis, and create the perfect look for their front-cover debut on Billboard Magazine.
White said the day of the shoot they were scheduled to perform at MIT, just days after the marathon bombings. Because the events resonated with them—there is a Boylston Street in Seattle they spend time on—Macklemore wore a Boylston Trading Company jersey on stage and dedicated the night to slain Officer Sean Collier, who was killed by the bombing suspects. White says that was just one of the examples of how down-to-earth both Macklemore and Lewis were during the time she spent with them.
In the end, Reis and White did such a good job with their magazine cover look, which hit shelves this week, that when they returned to the city to play a show at Boston College, they invited White to attend and hang out a second time.
Before we get to you meeting Macklemore, what is it you do?
Well, I’m a Digital Strategist for Karmaloop’s members-only site PLNDR.com and my days are spent putting together creative content and strategies for the site and our social media platforms to excite and engage our members, while bringing in the dough. I’m also a contributor for Racked Boston, and when I’m not doing that I’ve been lucky enough to do some styling for lookbooks… Oh, I’m also the host of a new show on Karmaloop TV—it’s called Personal Effects and I dig through rappers and tastemakers’ suitcases, toiletries, etcetera to see which items they can’t live or travel without.
So how long have you been in the stylist part of the business?
I’ve helped out on projects here and there since I moved to Boston, but this past year is when I really started focusing on styling.
Ok, now onto styling Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. How did you get to work on that photo shoot with them?
It’s a crazy story! Last month Ben (Macklemore’s real name) and Ryan were in town for a couple college shows and they found out that they got the cover of Billboard! They contacted a local photographer, Ian Travis Barnard—it was his first national shoot—and he reached out to my friend Justin Reis [to do the styling]. The shoot was supposed to be the very next day and Justin…called me up the night before [and asked me to assist]. I volunteered to help him pull the looks and dress the guys. [We] pulled items from Boylston Trading Company, Karmaloop, Ball and Buck and Justin brought the items from Louis Boston, The Tannery, and more.
When working with big name acts at shoots, what’s your role? Do you get to pick everything from outfits to hairstyle?
It depends on the person, honestly. Some people like to be very involved with the process and they’ll bring items from their own closets to work into the shoot and they’ll actively ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ items you’ve chosen. Others will put on whatever you tell them to. Ben and Ryan each brought a huge suitcase. Ben’s was filled with that poncho, Jordans, and other items that he’s actively wearing on tour, and we worked those items into the four looks that we put together. All the jewelry Ben’s wearing in the Billboard shoot are his own, though.
What were Macklemore and Ryan Lewis like to work with?
Really friendly. Humble. Selfless. About a week after the shoot they were back in Boston playing at Boston College, my alma mater, and they invited me to the show. It was great seeing them again—they set us up right on the side of the stage so we had a killer view and the homie Clinton Sparks was there, too. Their entire team is so collaborative and humble and they care about their fans so much it’s no wonder they’re revolutionizing the music industry. I really respect it. I mean these are the kind of guys who’ll chill with you at craft services telling you to take whatever you want—and mean it—while talking about their upcoming tour. Tricia Davis, Ben’s fiancé, was incredible, too. She’s one of those rare people you meet in this business whose kindness and generosity is so sincere you feel like you’ve known her for your entire life. She told me their [merchandise girl] housesits for them out in Seattle, and said anytime we were out there that they’d put us up.
So these guys sound fun. Anything particularly interesting happen during the photo shoot?
I have a cute video of Ben jumping on Ryan’s back and running around. That was memorable.
Who are some other celebrities you have had a chance to work with?
I’ve styled Hoodie Allen, Dizzy Wright, The Ready Set, Nina Sky, G-Eazy, Timeflies, and a couple other people for lookbooks that have been featured on Complex, Vibe, and Spin…I’ve also worked with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mick Boogie, and DMC of Run DMC through Karmaloop projects. I’ll be working with Mobb Deep in a couple weeks. If there’s a rapper in town, chances are we’ll be doing something with them.