“It’s Not What You Wear, It’s How You Rock It!” –Kwame Waters
StyleStamped had a chance to interview celebrity stylist Kwame Waters, most known to the world for styling and collaborating with Real Housewives of Atlanta reality star and songstress Kandi Burruss,but most known to me as the kid who always had style. Kwame was never afraid to step outside of the box when it came to putting an outfit together back in the day when we were kids in New York. Now here we are a few years later and I have a few questions for Kwame, specific to how his life-long love for fashion has led him to this amazingly creative, fun, and successful path.
Name: Kwame Waters
Hometown: New York, NY
Current Location: Atlanta, GA
What is your title(s)?
♥ Fashion/Wardrobe Stylist & Professional Makeup/Men’s Grooming Artist
How did you get involved with fashion; where was your inspiration born and how did you discover that you wanted to be in the fashion industry?
♥ I always knew that I wanted to work in Fashion. I first thought that I wanted to be a designer, so I would ask my mom for sketch books so I could create my lines. I actually still have them. After high school, I started modeling and doing a lot of Commercial print. I would always find myself talking with the stylist on set. I liked that they were behind the scenes pulling the looks together. The biggest inspiration was being styled by June Ambrose for a 112 video (Love You Like I Did). Watching her work totally won me over.
♦ I can see that. Working with Miss June would be one of my biggest inspirations too! She werks!
What aspects of fashion did you fall in love with?
♥ I’m in love with Fashion period. The fact that someone can see something in their imagination, and bring it to completion, excites me! I love that clothes have the power to transform someone and lift them up. We all feel amazing when we look amazing. Our clothes have an opportunity to speak for us and share aspects of our personality that we might never share with someone verbally. I love the Art of it all, and the fact that it’s a $300 Billion dollar a year industry doesn’t hurt either.
♦ I can feel and identify with your excitement, fashion definitely has power!
What inspires you, makes you excited about your work?
♥ I really love working with new artist and public figures. Being a part of developing someone’s brand is exciting to me. I’m often the last piece in the puzzle, meaning, after music has been created and ideas have been carried out, I’m the last touch to bring it all together. Making sure they’re marketable. Most of all, I like seeing that look of excitement on a clients face when it all comes together.
♦ Save the best for last! I like what you said about making someone marketable, an artist’s look can be a huge impact on their career viability.
How did you get started? Did you work retail, go to school, meet a random person who asked you if you could dress them, what?
♥ There is more than one road that has led me here. However, I have to credit Kandi Burruss for giving me some of my first opportunities. When Xscape disbanded, Kandi started pursuing her solo career and I would dress her for parties and events. My first video that I styled was E40’s ” You And Dat”, which featured Kandi & T-pain. I also worked for a company in Atlanta, GA called “CREWS”. The company represented stylist, and it allowed me to work with other stylist and build up my skills. I also worked in retail right out of High School. I totally hated it! But, working retail enabled me to learn about designers, fabric, how to personal shop for clients, and know different cuts where garments are concerned. I met a lot of my clients working at the popular Lenox Mall in Atlanta.
♦ That’s great that you had the opportunity to meet someone with influence to give your career a start. Not only that, but it benefits you both! You got your career jump-started by keeping her looking great. That is not a bad trade off.
When pulling for a look, how do you get inspiration?
♥ The inspiration comes from knowing what the client wants as an end result. Meaning, knowing what they want to accomplish. Do they want to look cute for an event, totally re-brand their image or are they starting from scratch. I like to take time to talk and vibe with clients to get a feel for their personal style. Find out what they like, what the don’t like, even what they don’t like about their body. That conversation with them is where the inspiration starts.
♦ Hmmm. That is an aspect that outsiders don’t often get to see. A good stylist doesn’t just show up with some clothes and say here, put this on! It’s more of a collaborative effort.
What work did you do to prove yourself in order to gain clientele?
♥ Wow! well I feel that you never stop proving yourself as a Creative Professional. But, I would have to say that my first two spreads in Jezebel Magazine is what really made people stop and take notice.
♦ I bet it did!
What is your favorite part about working in the fashion industry?
♥ Working with other creative people and coming together to make something cool.
♦ I love that you said that. Creating something with other creatives can be so inspiring, and the energy can be mind blowing!
Who has been the most influential in your career thus far?
♥ Kandi. As she grows as an artist, woman, and business woman, it also causes me to grow with her. There’s something about that first person that gives you a chance.
♦ Aww, I love that.
What moment in your career stands out the most?
♥ Getting my first cover with JET Magazine.
♦ That had to be a great feeling seeing your work on the cover of such a well-known publication.
What is your view of the fashion industry right now?
♥ I find the Fashion Industry to be in an exciting place right now. We have some amazing designers putting a twist on traditional ideas. We also have other artists, actors, and creative people who didn’t start out in fashion, venturing into it and bringing something fresh.
♦ The different interpretations of fashion that are currently on the scene are exciting!
What is your favorite trend, and do you care about/follow trends?
♥ I think its fun to follow trends, just don’t build you’re entire wardrobe around it. Maintain classic pieces in you’re wardrobe that can be worked for years to come. My favorite trend now is the rebirth of “PUNK”.
♦ Great advice! And the PUNK look is so much fun right now, you can work the pieces in with so many things.
What is your least favorite trend?
♥ Jeans hanging off the butt. Like, I really HATE it!
♦ Ummm yeah!
Who is your favorite designer, and why?
♥ Tom Ford. I love that his approach to fashion is so classic. He creates a lifestyle. And, he equally does Women & Men’s wear beautifully.
♦ So classic and eternal. He’s the truth.
What is your favorite fashion era?
♥ It would have to be the 1920’s – 40’s when men wore dinner jackets to dinner and women wore the deep set waves in their hair. I like Classic style!
♦ Oooh to reminisce on such a romantic time…they were so elegant back then.
What is your favorite movie that you love to watch from a fashion aspect?
♥ The Great Gatsby.
♦ Yes! That movie was jammed packed with fashion.
What is your favorite store?
♥ I actually LOVE Macy’s! You can find so many affordable and cool things there. If we’re talking more high end, Tom Ford & Saks fifth Avenue.
♦ I never have much luck at Macy’s outside of the MAC Counter. But because you said it, I will give it a shot!
Is there anyone that you would love to work with if given the opportunity?
♥ I would love to work with Tom Ford, Gwen Stefani, and Janet Jackson.
♦ I would love for you to work with them. That would be amazing! But the way your career is going, it will only be a matter of time.
Do you have anyone that you look up to, from an inspiration standpoint?
♥ I’m inspired by other creative people period. Known or unknown.
♦ That’s dope.
Who have you worked with in the industry that you’re most proud of?
♥ Rachel Roy.
♦ Nice! She’s so talented and has had a great influence on the fashion industry.
What is your favorite type of event to style for? (Red carpet, video, etc.)
♥ I love doing videos. Videos allow me to utilize the story line and set to create looks.
How has social media affected your business? How do you think it has affected the fashion industry?
♥ You can’t have a successful business without social media. It allows you to reach people right where they are. It also allows you to receive feedback from people instantly. Instagram has thousands of creative fashion people. It affects your growth. It also serves as a free website/portfolio for your work.
♦ True. And just think just a few years ago Instagram wasn’t even created!
How do you define your personal style?
♥ I’m a free agent when it comes to my personal style. I’m a hoody, jeans and sneakers kind of guy. My clothes have to be comfortable and functional. My must haves are sickening sneakers and a nice backpack.
♦ For such a hard working man I’m sure comfort is key.
How do you like living in Atlanta, GA? How has it influenced your career versus living in New York?
♥ I love what Atlanta offers me as far as personal living. Unfortunately, Atlanta doesn’t have a strong Fashion Market, so we still have to look at stronger markets like New York, LA, and Miami. I do feel that the growth of the Television and Film Industry here will influence a change. New York is my hometown, so it will always have an influence on my creativity.
♦ I feel the same way about Washington, DC, there is no real Fashion Market, and that’s without any Television and Film Industry influence. Scandal is not filmed here in real life! Lol.
What is your ultimate goal in the industry, where do you see/want your career to go?
♥ My plan is to open a Men’s boutique in Atlanta next year. I would like to do more television and film. I will continue to style and creative direct for new artists. I enjoy it too much. I might even design that men’s line after all, people will have to wait and see.
♦ Well Kwame, StyleStamped can’t wait to see what you do next. Everything you do is with style and elegance and we appreciate your creativity and art, you are great at what yo do. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us!
Check out Kwame helping Kandi pick out her wedding dress on Season 6 Episode 6 of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.