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At Vogue, Accessories and Special Projects Director Selby Drummond leveraged her unique trend prescience into projects like an Off/White snowboarding collaboration and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. In December, Drummond shifted to the tech space as the Head of Fashion and Beauty Partnerships at Snap. Bridging the two worlds has given Drummond an entirely different perspective on style and personal expression, plus a new signature accessory: the Spectacles. In conversation with FRAME, Drummond speaks about the insights she’s collected throughout her colorful career, the woman she admires most, and why she never bothers to check the weather.
Growing up you wanted to be an artist. What led you to pursue a career in fashion?
I grew up in New York. I loved art, everything about it, and I loved fashion. I never saw them as particularly different: I saw fashion as another art form. I would spend my time in my room painting or making a shirt from silk I bought in the Garment District. I was obsessed with Christian Dior and Balenciaga and John Galliano. I wanted to be a designer, but it was Anna Wintour who told me I wasn’t allowed to go to design school and that I had to get a liberal arts education. I worked at Sotheby’s before I went to Vogue, and now I’m at Snap, working with digital artists and creators. It’s just another medium for art and experimentation. I’m amazed by the creativity, programming, and technology.
How do you want Fashion and Beauty to live within the larger Snap ethos?
One of the things that appealed to me about Snap is that it’s a place of kindness and doing good in the world. Snapchat isn’t about the metrics – how many likes and followers you have. You don’t open Snapchat to the feed, you open to the camera. It’s about connecting and creativity. It’s the perfect synergy of the digital experience and being in the moment. The level of engagement and enthusiasm of our users is really powerful, and Snap is dedicated to using these creative tools to do good in the world. I want to make Fashion and Beauty something that promotes happiness and joy. I think we work really hard in fashion, especially on the business side, to do things seriously. So it’s about trying to break through that, to be in the moment experiencing joy. It’s a fun place to be.
How has working at a tech company changed your outlook on Fashion and Beauty?
That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since I started this job. I worked at Vogue for seven years, and there was so much I took for granted about the power of that art and self-expression, the way that creative visionaries are celebrated as leaders in the fashion industry. I kind of lost the forest for the trees. Coming to Snap, I’ve realized how important it is to have visionaries who can give life to the tools the tech industry is working so hard to innovate. Fashion and beauty are so personal so tied to self-expression and I love being a bridge between these two worlds.
I’ve realized how important it is to have those creative visionaries celebrated in Fashion and Beauty who can give life to the tools this industry is working so hard to innovate.
In the fashion industry you were constantly surrounded by powerful women. Who are some of the women who inspire you?
I got into the fashion industry, and thought, “Oh, women are running this world.” I came from the art world, and I didn’t like the balance of power in that world. I am all about a female network, and I love fashion for that. I am so lucky to know so many amazing women. I grew up with a single mother who worked on Wall Street and now runs a company that supports and directs capital to female entrepreneurs. She’s 65 years old (she’ll be mad I said that) but she is constantly working, flying around the world. She knows more about technology and innovation than anyone else I know. She has this drive to stay educated and stay relevant and keep pushing for a purpose. Her work will never be done. I hope I take something from her. The other obvious person is Anna Wintour. Her ability to somehow continue to be so generous and supportive even though she’s so busy and powerful is insane.
Are there moments from your time at Vogue that you regret not capturing and sharing?
You think it’s the big moments, but I remember being in the office at Vogue and the fun we would have behind the scenes. We used to joke we should have a fashion Olympics; it would have packing and carrying trunks, or sprinting with samples, or lifting as many fashion bags as possible. When crazy looks would come in from the runway, someone would have to try them on in a fitting so Grace Coddington could plan her shoot. The play and the fun — that is what makes great content. Those are the moments you laugh about and where something so aspirational becomes real and personal. Whether you were in fashion or not, everyone can relate to hustling to get something together.
What is your take on the perception that people who work in tech are not very style savvy?
I think it totally runs the gamut but every industry has different codes that talk to each other. The code in the tech world is: what cool company do you get your swag from. The Patagonia vest is such an iconic staple. We sometimes think of fashion as certain trends or brands, but when you look at Silicon Valley style you remember what we are really talking about are your values or what brand philosophies you identify with. So we [in fashion] identify with the avant-garde, with the next thing to be, to be different, to show yourself. In Silicon Valley people who wear Patagonia think it’s an innovative company and respect their values. That’s what fashion can also learn from tech. It’s thinking about those emotional connections differently.
I got into the fashion industry, and I thought, “Oh, women are running this world.” I am all about a female network, and I love fashion for that.
As a former accessories editor – what are the latest tech accessories you can’t live without?
This is going to sound like a plug, but it’s so brutally true. I’m obsessed with my Spectacles, the sunglasses that Snapchat makes. When I first joined, they asked me about Spectacles and I thought, I don’t know if I can fuck with that, they’re so off-brand for me. But I tried them on and they fully changed my life. It’s two cameras and they take the most amazing video. I wore them when I was in Portugal over the summer. I took them paddle boarding because they’re water-resistant. You don’t have to carry your phone around or take it out to capture a moment. You just press a button on your frames. Not having to pick up my phone has really changed the way I think about capturing and integrating content. I was always watching the wearable tech space, but it was really hard to find something new you think would make a difference in your life. But I’ve actually incorporated these into my daily life.
How would you describe your own personal style?
The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s totally uncorrelated with the weather. [Laughs] I don’t know if that’s a description, but the first thing I think is what I’m wearing is really not appropriate for what is happening outside. I just don’t believe in dressing for the weather, I believe in wearing what you want in any moment. My fiancé works in real estate and when I get up every day go to work, he thinks I’m in a costume. “Oh, you’re wearing you’re rodeo costume today,” “Oh, you’re wearing your Matrix outfit today.” Whatever it is. I go into the Snap office in New York, and I imagine everybody thinking, “Oh great, she’s in a space outfit today.” I don’t worry too much about it. Some days I’m in a menswear look, some days I’ll wear something quite rock and roll. I just try to find pieces I love and mix them in and try new things.
What’s your go-to denim fit? You seem like you gravitate towards a high-waisted, skinny silhouette.
Yes, exactly. And sometimes I’ll do a more relaxed, vintage-feeling jean. I’m six feet tall so I’m obsessed with FRAME because they make the Karlie Kloss jean, the only jean that’s long enough for me. I hope they never stop.
If you had to pick one, what’s most coveted item in your wardrobe?
I have this amazing original green Dior saddle bag. I got it as a Valentine’s Day present from my boyfriend in high school. It was a hand-me-down from his mother. I didn’t appreciate at the time but it’s the most amazing vintage piece. It’s fun now that the saddle bag is back.
So, the bag stayed but the boyfriend didn’t…
I think I got the better end of that deal.