Interview: Menswear Stylist John Tan


Stylist, John Tan knows how to keep it minimal.

John Tan is less a front-row fixture than an enigmatic figure observing the trends from afar. The former art director turned fashion editor, blogger, and casting guru all rolled into one is a heavy hitter across many different areas of the industry. Somehow, amidst his crazy freelance schedule he publishes his own quarterly online men's magazine titled Visual Tales, and upkeeps a blog, John Tan Casting that outlines his favorite collections, model encounters, and general trend musings. Launched in November 2009, the site has become ground zero for discovering the next top male models, though this New York native insists the site has less to do with writing his own fame than the creative process. "I do it because it gives me another platform to be creative in," he says. "You do what interests you." Tan's other trademark? Being personable. When Tan isn't clocking hours at his home-office you'll often find him in front of models, interviewing and photographing them. Says Tan, "The usual response is 'I'm glad I came to see you.' It's an opportunity to get to know them. As a casting person you get a better understanding of who they are and you can cast them in their appropriate jobs. I think that's really important. How can you style them when you don't know who they are?"

We caught John in between projects to talk to him about upcoming trends, faces to watch for, and pet peeves. He also created an original collage of the models he has recently worked with exclusively for We Are The Market. See the collage and read the full interview below.

Describe your own personal style and/or mantra.

As long as it feels right and you feel good wearing it without hesitation.

What are five things every guy should have in his closet?

A trusted 1. Shirt or pullover shirt 2. A fitted trouser 3. Overcoat or a jacket 4. A pair of loafers or sneakers 5. A bag/backpack for all the necessary essentials

Keep it minimal.

What trends are you most excited by right now? Least excited by?

Excited: I don't really follow trends. I rather go by instincts. Least excited: What's considered to be bohemian cool—everyone is starting to look the same.

Who are the male models to watch for? The ones that really want to be a model, not for any other reason and want to be involved in the creative process.

How has social media changed the way you work? I wound up doing everything! I used to only have to specialize in one thing, not anymore!

Do you have any industry pet peeves?

Longevity is slowly vanishing and smoke and mirrors in fashion.

What is key to being successful in the industry?

Sincerity, loyalty, and a bit of luck. And after all that, talent!

Plans for the summer? Creating the next few issues of Visual Tales and the upcoming SS 13 men's shows in Milan and Paris!

Collage and images by John Tan for JTC Casting

Interview by Tim Yap