The streetwear culture has always been a bit of an all boys club, meet Kitty and Jess, one of the most respected the girl duo's in both the sneaker and streetwear scenes.
"The whole reason we were so focused on pushing the sneaker and streetwear part of the blog, or even just having a blog that represented women in sneakers and streetwear is because we felt that women were being portrayed in a way that was completely unrealistic in that world. "
For those who don’t know, who are you and what do you do?
Kitty: I am Kitty Cowell, and I run a blog with Jess, AKA Juice Gee. I’m also a stylist when I’m not blogging.
What’s the name of the blog you both run?
Kitty: It’s called The Unisex Mode. It’s about unisex fashion and lifestyle.
How long has the blog been running now?
Kitty: About three years .
Juice: Kitty started it off by herself, I had a blog about five years ago and then I stopped because it wasn’t really a thing for me and I found it quite time consuming. Then I met Kitty through a friend and our love for trainers and she wanted to do a girl collective in London, especially in the trainer scene here because we found there wasn’t really a solid group of girls. Kitty had the platform already and I joined as a contributor; we started off with about six or seven members to begin with then ended up doing our own thing when it was just the two of us, kind of a twinning thing.
Kitty: We’d literally even end up going to events dressed quite similar by accident then figured we’d make that our thing by embracing that. People have even started gifting us similar products now.
Juice: We’re always matching but not exactly.
Kitty: We didn’t choose these pieces from adidas ourselves but they wanted to give us something from the same collection. And I suppose when you’re gifting two people it can be a bit difficult, you don’t want to give one person one thing and the other something better.
With you both heavily involved in the trainer scene, how do you think the representation of women in that particular scene is now compared to five years ago?
Kitty: I think it’s completely different in a positive way. The whole reason we were so focused on pushing the sneaker and streetwear part of the blog, or even just having a blog that represented women in sneakers and streetwear is because we felt that women were being portrayed in a way that was completely unrealistic in that world. We’d be buying brands like Stüssy, Alife and Supreme but, whenever we saw pictures of girls wearing it online it was really sexualised. We’ve both also got a lot of male friends who are very prolific in the scene and have their own blogs who’ve also worked with really big brands; there were no girls who were pushing that, and we felt we have the same interests and qualifications as these guys and we really wanted to have a place to say ‘there are girls who have a knowledge of sneakers and streetwear’. And also with the collections, Jess (Juice) started off with her online store - Small Feet, Big Kicks - and it was like hey I’m this girl with a massive sneaker collection who knows the origins of why these trainers were made, and there just wasn’t any focus on that for girls. Not even stores were representing girls, you couldn’t buy shoes from Size? that fitted you, and if you could they weren’t the same exclusives as men and usually had horrible colour-ways. It’s a catch 22 now though - you get loads of girls being ‘Sneaker Heads’ and they just aren’t, but it’s a good thing there are more girls repping that because it means theres now more accessibility for girls in that scene.
How do you both feel about being known as London’s female figure-heads of this movement?
Kitty: I’m proud if that’s what people are saying because that’s the whole point we started the blog. We’re also trying to unite a lot of girls as well. A lot of our friends are girls who are doing their thing right now and it’s really nice to see. So we’re doing this and we’re trying our hardest to keep up with it because it’s gone so well so quickly, we’re still trying to make the blog a full-time thing for us financially and get our friends more involved in what we’re doing.
Juice: I think it’s nice that we’re finally getting recognised. Even with us just being in the scene for such a long time. WhenI first came in with my store it felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously; it’s just the whole thing of sticking to your guns and being confident in what you’re about and constantly portraying that. You might not be seen or heard in the beginning but if you stick with it and you’re fully invested, people will eventually realise. It’s nice that we’re now the go-to for sneakers or unisex fashion because we’re comfortable in what we do.
Kitty: There have been a few times where we’ve thought do we really need to start getting sexier to get noticed? You see people with massive followings because they post pictures of themselves in a bikini everyday, and she happens to have a pair of trainers on, so all the sneaker head boys we know love her. It’s hard but as Juice said it’s nice to be getting that recognition and we haven’t had to do that.
Juice: It’s also just about respect, with all these challenges in your face you do question yourself sometimes, especially when it is such a slow burner. At the end of the day, even with all the guys we know loving these other girls we’re the ones they respect more.
That leads onto the next question; you’ve worked with some amazing brands and reaching that stage is hard for most people, including the guys nowadays. How does it feel now that you’re not just recognised nationally but internationally?
Kitty: I think it’s funny because we went to an event last night and that really had an effect on me. We met Kano firstly.
Juice: I almost died! We got caught in the lift with him and I started panicking, I asked to take a picture with him but awkwardly pointed at the mirror and he assumed I wanted him to move out the way; and instead of doing a mirror selfie I put my phone up at an awkward angle.
Kitty: He was sweet though. The event had a massive turn out, we were at The Shard - we’ve both never been before and neither have a lot of people who went - the reason I started the blog I was focusing on music and I’ve always had those two things but later stepped away from music because I wanted to focus more on fashion. Really the music industry had had it’s time in my life and I wasn’t earning any money and I was just stressed. Started the blog and it took off quickly, then people started asking me to style which brought in an income and I really enjoyed it. When I was at the event last night there were people I’d known from my days in music and one person in particular told me they had been watching everything I’ve been doing and just being supportive of what I was doing now and the people I’ve surrounded myself with.
Juice: For me I’ve done things wondering where it would get me and I’ve always dreamed of doing things and then for that brand you’ve been dreaming about to approach you is very humbling. I mean nowadays we’re so immersed in what we’re doing we don’t take time to come up and look at what we’re doing. It’s good that we’ve been able to get all these opportunities organically.
Who do you think the most influential person or collective from London has been?
Kitty: I think Dean Martindale for me personally. He went freelance a few months before I did and he has smashed it on another level since, he told us at the beginning of 2015 - just as he went freelance - that he’d love to work with Nike in 2016 and he’s already done so many projects with them already this year. He’s worked on projects with adidas and Coach.
Juice: He’s even done campaigns abroad.
Kitty: His photography is so good; and he’s so humble, he’ll be the guy to meet us for an hour if we need some post production work done. With Dean it’s nice seeing his progression because he’s just lived his life, he hasn’t tried being someone else and it’s very inspiring.
Juice: Vicky Grout. Both Vicky and Dean have just worked together on a Puma campaign. I’ve known her for years, we met through trainers and when she first started with her photography she applied to be an intern for Small Feet Big Kicks, it’s nice to see her doing so well after going freelance, she’s literally been getting jobs everyday. For someone so young with that much energy and passion about what she does it comes through in her work.
Where do you see yourselves by the end of 2016?
Juice: Having our own creative agency and smashing the world.
Kitty: 100% full-time. With the stuff we’re doing now like the shoots for example we front it, from styling ourselves to directing the shoots half the time and organising our own crew.
Juice: It’s not even just our own projects, we’ve helped out with other people’s projects. We’ve enjoyed collaborating with new people - the guys from The Basementwere really fun to work with - and just branching more into the lifestyle fitness thing. I’ve always been into sports and dance and Kitty wants to get fit and we’ve been trying to collaborate more on that recently. Also because we’ve started branching out we’ve seen people from the industries we want to get involved with reach out to us and it’s so refreshing.
Kitty: Just being able to have some sort of seamless continuity with our work because we’re both still doing this part-time.
Juice: And if we could also go on some kind of snowboarding trip in 2016, teach Kitty how to snowboard.
What girls are you looking at right now who you wouldn’t mind working with?
Kitty: I would like to work with Adrianne Ho but that would need us to go to America.
Juice: She’s literally my idol.
Kitty: Vicky has always been on our radar, we’ve never really worked on a project with her until recently but would love to do more of that.
Juice: I want to do a collab with Millie Cotton; she’s a fitness blogger, DJ etc. Would definitely love to work with her on something fitness wise.
Kitty: In general, collaborating with people a lot more in 2016. Bloggers and female photographers definitely.
Any guys on that list?
Juice: Thai Matic.
Kitty: Jordan Vickors, because he’s an all round creative, he’s doing really well and we’d like to work on a few projects with him.
Juice: I was just thinking who we’d like to work with from Jordan’s circle but they’re all mainly models. I guess just working with guys who are doing really well in their fields models included.
Thank you to Kitty and Jess for taking the time out to talk to us. Keep up to date with their work via The UNISEX Mode.