Alastair McKimm

Alastair McKimm on a 23-Year Career and Balancing Art and Commerce

Show Notes


Irish stylist Alastair McKimm joins Christopher Michael to discuss his trailblazing path to becoming i-D Magazine's global editor-in-chief. Growing up in Belfast in the '80s and '90s, Alastair was captivated by the distinct street style and elements of skateboarding, hip hop, and punk cultures. He encountered the fashion world through the pages of i-D Magazine, which introduced him to renowned designers like Raf Simmons, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, and Helmut Lang. Working with iconic designers and photographers has helped mold his career, alongside his perseverance and exuberant passion for the work. At i-D, he has built a solid team, injecting the publication with a reenergized vision, always keeping open to new ideas and perspectives, and keen on fostering collaborative exchange. So, what is contemporary now? To Alastair, it is honesty, authenticity, and a community of people who bring out the best in others.

Episode Highlights
  • Elements of education: Early exposure to street fashion in Alastair's native Belfast and studying fashion design at Nottingham Art School.
  • Early influences: skateboarding, surfing, hip-hop, and punk; Raf Simmons, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, and Helmut Lang; i-D Magazine and Self Service, and their "advertising that wasn't even selling clothes, but a brand."
  • In the '90s, the internet was in its infancy, and magazine images were the outsized primary influence.
  • Designs, casting, styling, and photography: Alastair landed his first job in London by showing up with his portfolio and networking his way into an assistant's job with Edward Enninful, then the fashion director at i-D Magazine.
  • Living the dream: Alastair relished every aspect of his introduction to fashion styling, though it was a steep learning curve—intense, terrifying, and exhilarating.
  • Playing to strength: As administrative work was not his strong suit, Alastair focused on researching and scanning images from fashion archives, vintage, costume, and antique shops.
  • Full circle: As i-D Magazine’s global editor-in-chief, Alastair has the institutional memory to reflect on the evolution of covers, collaborators, and the industry's interplay.
  • Do the work: Alastair underscores the importance of working every rung of the fashion ladder to gain fluency, perspective, and core-level competencies.
  • Building out the team: Camaraderie and collaboration, which Alastair believes are the most contemporary (and work-life enhancing) of all things.
  • Church and state: The false divisions between art and commerce, and why growth and financial engagement are essential to building brands.
  • Making old school more commercial: social media mastery; video content; and digitization.
  • Post-pandemic workplace creative processes and communication: finding the balance between in-person and virtual; deploying platforms, such as Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp, sms, and email.
  • Capturing the moment: How do Alastair and his team look at covers, themed issues, and other editorial decisions shaping the look and priorities at i-D Magazine.
  • Content versus collections: The curation processes differ.
  • Editor versus stylist: open-mindedness and growth invariably evolve out of collaboration essential to publishing effective, compelling magazine content.
  • How New York has become home—with touchstone influences like Gap, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Tiffany's, and many more.
  • The World is Flat: About the globalization (and overlap) in today's fashion landscape.
  • Saying No to the Fashion Vacuum: Alastair shares thoughts on how his longstanding affinity for street culture (and an open mind) keep ideas fresh and inspiration expansive in an often insular, self-referential industry.
  • On having it all: How a blend of gratitude and a distinct personality have helped Alastair maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Checking imposter syndrome: Giving back and being of service helps Alastair stay grounded.
  • What's Contemporary Now? Very simply, it's being honest, leaning into our humanity, and connecting authentically with those around us.
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