Meet Chad Groom, one-half of the genius NYC Style Duo that is The StyleMonsters.
Our introduction took place to during New York Fashion Week by Nick Cross, designer of Egotistic Egotism as we awaited outside of Teyana Taylor’s fashion show. “BeBe, you must meet Chad, he is a great stylist with dope style,” says Nick. Why have I not heard of this talented being with this luminous smile… At that moment I was intrigued and wanted to do my research on The StyleMonster himself. With a few photo likes and Instagram followings later I knew he’d be the perfect stylist to feature on RowASeat1.
Over 21 years of experience in the industry, the Morehouse College Alum started his humble beginnings (post college) at the Smithsonian Institution setting up exhibits followed by some image consulting for Washington, DC’s elite. Then he landed the position as the creative consultant for DC-based menswear designer Andrew Nowell.
Then this happened… Chad Groom x Llewellyn Jenkins teamed up and created a fashion love child – Luck was indeed the lady that brought together what is now The STYLEMONSTERS of NYC, and the rest is history!
RowASeat1: When did you fall in love with fashion?
Chad of The Style Monsters: I don’t know when exactly it was, but I kind of adopted fashion into my life in junior high school. Before that everything was chosen for me, even the way I wore my hair (it was box braids, all the way down my back!) I was much more interested in academics and Track & Field than I was interested in fashion back then, per se. Going into junior high was when I was allowed to pick my own school clothes, and make sartorial decisions for myself. I guess it started then.
RowASeat1: Who is Chad, the stylist?
Chad: I’m one of those stylists who believes that fashion and style are completely different for each individual, that some things work for some people and not for others. I don’t believe in blind allegiance to one particular fashion label. I like to mix it up. I am not the kind of stylist who believes that everyone can wear almost any thing; I believe people have their own style “coda,” and the trick is to tap into it. I am also the kind of stylist who pulls inspiration and my fashion vocabulary from all things in the past to create something in the present that feels fresh and new, but has a wink to all things that have come before it. I am a student of fashion history, and a practitioner of making everything old new again. And, I am categorically against wearing any designer’s look head to toe- that’s just lazy!
RowASeat1: Where are you from? How long have you been styling?
Chad: Born and raised in The Bronx, New York. I have been styling since I was in high school. My friends used to pay me to take them shopping because they liked the way I dressed and the things I would find. Even after college, (I graduated from Morehouse College and was working at the Smithsonian Museum in DC doing statistical analysis) would assist the museum staff with setting up exhibits – which also included dressing mannequins and creating “moments.” Officially, I’ve been a fashion stylist since around 1993, so 21 years so far.
RowASeat1: Tell me about your breakthrough moment in fashion.
Chad: I’m not sure I’ve had a “breakthrough” in fashion. I’ve had some heady, unbelievable moments and I’ve worked with some rather interesting and famous people, but I think my breakthrough (if I am to have one) is still ahead of me. There hasn’t been one minute where I can pinpoint and say “yeah, I’ve DEFINITELY made it now,” because I’m always interested in ‘re-inventing the wheel’ – so whatever has happened in the past is just that for me.
RowASeat1: What methods of inspiration do you use when taking on a new client or reinventing a current client?
Chad: I can have a conversation with a new (or returning) client and based on that honest conversation, begin to build their “style coda”- what makes them look as amazing as they can look given their strengths and minimizing or mitigating those things about them or about their body that they don’t see as strengths. I can build a look that communicates to the world what they want to say about themselves at that moment, and also I’m flexible enough to change directions if they want to say something else. The conversation is what’s important, though…
RowASeat1: Any celebrity clients you’ve worked with who has a great sense of style?
Chad: Nope! They ALL got their sense of style from THE STYLEMONSTERS (Laughs)!
RowASeat1: Who is your style crush?
Chad: I have two; the first is my business partner, Llewellyn Jenkins (who is the other half of THE STYLEMONSTERS). He has taught me 50% of everything I know about fashion and style, and his personal style is eternally fly! My other style crush at the moment is Jennifer Lopez. She is always DONE, impeccably!!!
RowASeat1: Favorite designer and stylist?
Chad: Personally, as far as my favorite designers, I am always interested in Dirk Bikkembergs, Andrew Nowell, and Yohji Yamamoto for menswear.
However, I love vintage pieces (which a lot of men don’t dress in). I like vintage pieces from Kansai Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Shaka King and Byblos. For womenswear, I always pay attention to what Ralph Rucci, Tom Ford, Jedda Khan, Haider Ackermann, Cushnie et Ochs, and Dries Van Noten have to say, because they are such intelligent designers. Philipp Plein and Anthony Vaccarello is currently on my radar. Vintage-wise, I think you can never go wrong with a Byron Lars, GianFranco Ferre or James Galanos piece. My favorite stylist would definitely be Catherine Baba (she’s AMAZING), and a close second would be the legendary Lori Goldstein.
RowASeat1: Name three things you don’t leave home without.
Chad: I always have my phone (I have been known to forget to take it with me in the morning, though), I always have a bag of some sort (whether it be a backpack, a tote or a cross-body bag), and I usually don’t leave home without some sort of fashion periodical – even if its just Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
RowASeat1: Quote or Words of Wisdom you live by…
Chad: “Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.” I got that one from my grandmother; she always said that you could never be too over-prepared.
For example, when a client, (especially in editorial or advertising) says, “we want purple blouses,” I try to bring the entire range of purple – from the palest of pink to magenta to lavender to puce to purple to eggplant to Aubergine. You never know what works, so you have to be prepared for that. I try to carry that into my personal life as well.
Words of Wisdom: If someone doesn’t personally know you, don’t take anything they say or do personal; 99-percent of the time it says more about them than about you.