Meet Rian Phin, The Internet’s Favorite Fashion Essayist

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Rian Phin is currently one of the most prolific voices in fashion. Her online presence on YouTube, with oral dissertations on runway shows, and TikToks with bite-sized fashion analyses, has attracted thousands of followers to her content. Phin was drawn to menswear in elementary school, and growing up with the rise of the internet, she was immersed into the non-traditional, subversive space of internet fashion and online culture. 

In the heyday of Rookie magazine, founded by Tavi Gevinson, Phin initially found her voice through blogging. She found herself talking to strangers about fashion on sneaker forums at too young an age. This eventually led to her being a writer at the teen-run magazine in 2015. At that time, she was heavily influenced by Pharrell Williams and skateboarding, drawn by the “cutting edge culture” of authenticity, and little to no regard for the status quo. “It forces you to be interested in what people are doing, to push the agenda and I feel like fashion is always a part of that.”  

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Wales Bonner FW24, Yasiin Bey, and Black futures – SOURCE ☆ Queer(ing) tailoring: Walter Van Beirendonck and the glorious bastardization of the suit By Nicola Brajato, Jay Mccauley Bowstead Menswear Revolution, Kerane Marcellus ‘Grace Wales Bonner’s Exhibition “Spirit Movers” With MoMA Is A Meditation On Blackness’ and Grace Wales Bonner Fetes the Opening of “Spirit Movers” at The MoMA BY ZACHARY WEISS and The People’s Party by Talib Kweli

♬ original sound – rian

Her encounter with Tyler, the Creator on MySpace, and the influence of Jasmine Alexandria, a Black fashion blogger, left an indelible mark on Phin. Alexandria’s alternative style and handmade jewelry ignited Phin’s passion, shaping her approach to self-expression. As she transitioned into writing for Rookie magazine, Phin channeled Alexandria’s confidence. 

Phin attributes her fashion affinity to her mother, an ardent fashion enthusiast who clinched the title of best-dressed in college, and her grandmother, a skilled seamstress. “We’re from the South, so church fashion and flamboyant dressing was always instilled in us,” she notes.

Discovering Phin’s YouTube channel during college was a revelation for me, as her eloquence in dissecting fashion concepts deepened my understanding of the industry. From DIY blogs to comprehensive fashion essays, Phin’s evolution as a content creator is remarkable. Her academic background in communications, complemented by sociology and women’s studies, enriches her fashion discourse. 

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 “I always want to invest in reminding people to read, which is a way of forcing people to be literate, because fashion is seen as cool,” says Phin. “I want people to invest in reading, invest in philosophy, and critically understanding themselves.” Drawing insights from diverse disciplines like music, history, science, and art, Phin molds her perspective authentically, avoiding the trap of being the “loudest voice in the room.”
Phin’s recent accolades, including invitations to major fashion weeks and exhibitions, underscores her growing influence. While in London last season at the exhibition 30 Years Of London Fashion, she shared that her favorite part about fashion is to witness an artist’s expression.

“I was crying because these designers wore their hearts on their sleeves. I mean, it was an Alexander McQueen exhibit so, that’s probably why I was crying, but to see Wales Bonner, and all these others in the room expressing to us what they feel, see, and think is important to say is such an honor, says Phin” 

As she continues to build her platform, post video essays, and share TikTok bite-sized thoughts, she wants to keep information accessible. While “influencing” is a risky job to take on, Phin is doing much more by encouraging interests in fashion to be less surface level. In the future, she’d love the opportunity to create a fashion media platform, write books on fashion theory, or continue to be online with her ideas. “I want to remind people of the importance of finding themselves through fashion, that should be the central focus, not anything else; finding yourself, finding you’re connecting with your spirit, your history, and your future, says Phin.” 

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