How cool, on a scale of 650, is Leandra Medine? Am just asking cause her name and image keeps popping up in my feed. Seems homegirl has this really amazing operation called Man Repeller, originally a blog but now a full-fledged brand that has just taken the fashion industry by storm. The last and craziest thing I heard about her is that she is more influential than Vogue’s Anna Wintour in the world of fashion. This was more than a gasp moment when I heard that. This was pretty much a full on “OMG, I betta sit down and educate myself on who this girl is. Like, today!” So, I checked her out on Youtube and I read a few articles about her in Vogue, Tech Crunch, Forbes, Time, Women’s Wear Daily…and, yea, everything I could speed read in two hours.
And wow. Wow!
This kid of American, Turkish and Iranian heritage is only 30 years old, first of all, and she has been at her blog since she was a junior in college which means she was about 20 years old when she started it. She said she started the blog because she was desperately single and looking to “regain ownership of her love life.” The blog began as a sort of ode to women who felt they were single because of their personal style.
Man Repeller is Ms. Medine’s third attempt at this medium. Her first was called Four Months in Paris and was written when she was a student in Paris back in her college days. Then she changed the name of that one to Boogers and Bagels (am not so sure what she was thinking with that one) and then finally, she hit on Man Repeller in 2010. The name, according to her, came about because she felt her style choices were repellent to men and her friends pretty much confirmed that maybe she was having trouble in the love department because of the way she dressed. Fascinating.
Equally fascinating is how she explains that this blog/online fashion magazine she created, and which she has now parlayed into a global brand, was only a hobby when she started. She explains repeatedly in a lot of her interviews that she was using fashion as a “language to connect” with other women; and she says she delighted in focusing on clothes that women loved but men hated.
She had a few lucky breaks – if you can call them that – in the early start of the blog. Within days of launching, for example, she got a write up on Refinery.com. Then she had a friend who worked for, I think, Women’s Wear Daily and somehow was able to get profiled there. And things have been snowballing ever since.
Leandra has come a long way since her junior-year-launch of Man Repeller. In 2012 she was included on Forbes’ list of most influential trendsetters 30 under 30. She was also recognized by TIME as one of the 25 Best Blogs (I have forgotten what year that took place). She has gotten married (in a Marchesa wedding dress in case you were wondering) to her on again off again boyfriend, a financier named Abie Cohen in a lavish 300-guest ceremony in New York’s St. Regis Hotel, in 2012. Then she waited four years and suffered a miscarriage before she was finally blessed with twins.
Today, Leandra is an influenceuse par excellence. Her quirkiness, humor and downright irreverence really resonates with a lot of people in the fashion industry. She is a multi-hyphenate with labels that include but are not limited to “journalist” “fashion blogger,” “author,” and “brand collaborator.”
She is also racking up a staggering number of collaborations with various brands including Stuart Weitzman, Mango (a capsule wardrobe line), Barneys (her own eponymous shoe line), and Net-a-Porter, to name a few.
In her Downtown Manhattan NoHo offices, Leandra presides over a team of six who write, edit and promote the brand on a daily basis. They rack up millions of views per month for their various content which includes an intriguing podcast called the Chatroom. This is probably the medium that suits her the best because her fans get to see her being totally unscripted and saying the most hilarious, sometimes controversial things. She has interviewed the best of the best in the business in her chatroom and her guest list includes people like Caroline Herrera, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ines de la Fressange and…who else? Just everybody!
Leandra is clearly on her way to iconic status in the fashion universe. It is hard to tell if it is just because of her fashion sense or if it is more about the wit she throws on it. One of my favorite Leandra quotes is something she said to Caroline Herrera: “clothing feels like fresh produce. Wear it or it goes rotten pretty quickly.” She seems to like to turn her quotes into hashtags, too. Three of my favorites from her are #armparty, #lovesummerhateverythingelse and #oneleggedselfie.
There is something almost frivolous about these hashtags, isn’t there? But like Coco Chanel, Leandra seems to think that frivolity is almost a form or art – and we all know how the art of frivolity worked out for Chanel. However, unlike the revered French couturier, Leandra eschews “mystery” (she said this to Caroline Herrera) as she feels that the more open and transparent that she is, the more, perhaps she will be able to connect with her audience.
What does the future hold for the 650-degree cool girl Leandra Medine? Big things, no doubt. Very big things.