At Adolescent, we are so excited to feature someone so young and passionate working incredibly hard to fulfill his creative endeavors. There aren't many stylists in the fashion industry can say that they've accomplished as much as Jared Martell has at only 19-years-old. Jared is a model and stylist based in New York City. He uses clothing as a visual platform to express feelings, dreams, and conflict and believes that activism and individuality go hand in hand. Love, sensuality, and gender fluidity is a common theme in his work and Jared's works to reflect the world's need for more inclusivity. His talent is apparent and his work really speaks for himself! We had the pleasure of talking with Jared about his winding career path, where his inspiration comes from, and how to overcome judgment and start being taken seriously as a young person in fashion.
@: You’re so young and have accomplished a lot in what seems to be a really short amount of time. What moment sparked you into becoming interested in fashion?
JM: I went to Catholic school from Pre-K to high school. Fashion has always been an interest of mine and with being in uniform from 3-16 years old, it was hard to express that. We would have these "dress down" days and we got to wear what we wanted. However, even that was limited. So I guess me being oppressed to dressing how I wanted was ultimately what sparked my breakout into fashion now.
@: What drew you to styling?
JM: I love styling because it is a tool for me to inspire others in more ways than one. Fashion is political, religious, cultural… It’s so multifaceted. And for me to be able to put my conceptual visions onto other people means everything to me. Taking one look at a man in a dress can make one boy who isn’t your stereotypical “boy” feel confident, happy and unafraid. That’s just one example. Gender fluidity is common in my work and my goal is to express individuality.
@: How did you get where you are today?
JM: Happiness is very important to me and at that point in time I knew I needed to make a change for my sanity. I started off by quitting my job. I started interning for a few stylists right before and a little after I turned 19. All of them have really molded me into the stylist I am today. Mostly Akeem Smith who I was with for the longest. He got me to think outside of the box and I always regard him in my work. He is such an icon. I decided I needed to be my own boss. I stopped attending college, realizing that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I started to take the opportunities that are being presented to me [as a stylist], but I also started to decline offers from other stylists in order to collect myself. Cultivating my website and networking with a few people I met on set of major productions helped my portfolio thrive. It all happened very fast and I have been getting a great flow of opportunities to style more and more. There is no blue print or guide to help you progress as a creative. Today I am here because I refused to be a conformist. I will never go the traditional route.
@: What struggles and obstacles have you come across?
JM: As for my age, ageism is definitely an obstacle for me. I understand that I do look Native, but I don't classify myself as a traditional person of color. I have Spanish Italian and French in me, and to deny that would be not be cognisant of my privilege. I have never had an instance where I felt prejudiced, however, I have had internal self conflict. Am I beautiful enough? Questions roam in my mind such. If I had more European like qualities, could I get this job? Would people take me more seriously? I definitely had to work on my confidence and understand that I am a young, mixed individual. No one looks exactly like me and I’m ultimately just a human trying to convey his art.
I remember essentially working on set and being totally self conscious. I've had amazing experiences at the expense of helping others elevate their careers while I get no credit or payment. I am aware of the definition of an intern. However, I believe my current age doesn't mean I am not capable of what a 50+ year old can do.
A pivotal memory for me was when I was on set for an ad campaign. We were on a lunch break and the assistant stylist sat next to me, and told me that I won't make any real money or get recognition for my work anytime soon. It makes me sad for people who try to instill doubt in other people to for self gratification. It’s false 'knowledge' they are spreading. Maybe even something they believe, because it's the safe way to think. But I'm out to prove everybody wrong.
@: Do you have any advice for young person trying to enter a competitive, creative field?
JM: This is to all of the young people who are afraid to pursue their dream. Don't be. Life is for living not just being alive. You want to wake up everyday and be happy in knowing that no one can take your talent and individuality away from you. Nothing is too silly or too irrational. What you are creating is your own path that will skyrocket to the future and nurture progression.
Interviewed by Richelle Chen.