Illustration: Samantha Hahn
For this special Fashion Week edition of “How I Get It Done,” we’re asking successful women about managing their careers and lives during this hectic time of year.
New York’s favorite fashion publicist, Gia Kuan, started her career over a decade ago running communications for cool-kid label Comme des Garçons. In 2013, she helped open the Manhattan location of ultrahip luxury-apparel and streetwear shop Dover Street Market, before taking a break from fashion to work with arts and culture clients at Nadine Johnson. She credits her time working with the veteran publicist with helping her learn the ropes of event curation — everything from throwing a killer party to creating “thoughtful” seating charts — lessons that would eventually come in handy during the Fashion Weeks she would soon dominate.
Kuan launched her eponymous consultancy in 2019. Though still a lean (six-person) firm, her clients — among them Telfar, Kim Shui, and Stussy— have an outsize influence in the fashion arena. Kuan herself has been hailed as “the first fashion publicist everyone wants to be friends with.” Naturally, Fashion Week is the busiest time of year for her — “a time where designers are using a 20-minute platform to be able to storytell the entire collection for this season.” A few days before New York Fashion Week kicked off, she spoke to the Cut from her Chinatown offices about how she gets it all done.
On her morning routine:
I am a pretty early riser during the summer, so I wake up around 6 a.m. There was a time where I tried to do the whole 5 a.m. thing, but that didn’t really work out. First things first in the morning — I have a dog. So I walk him around the block where I live in Gramercy. I usually listen to a couple of podcasts while I’m out. Once I get home, I have my breakfast. Usually it would be either oatmeal (I make it myself) or I would do eggs on toast, or … just eggs. I’m a big eggs eater. Scrambled eggs, poached eggs on toast. And then I do news. I subscribe to The New Yorker, to New York Magazine. I’m usually flipping through the physical issue, which is a little more old-school, but I still like that physicality of it.
On surviving the busiest week of the year:
In the first few years of my consultancy, I really didn’t get any sleep at all during Fashion Week. So, I would be up at 4 a.m., and I wouldn’t go to sleep until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. That was hard to maintain, because I would really only get a few hours of sleep. But now I’m in a place where my team and the work is a little bit more spread out, so I really try to fit my sleep in … Six to eight hours is crucial for me just to feel clearheaded and sane.
On team lunches:
Strangely enough, I don’t forget to eat, ever, even during Fashion Week, because I love eating. There are times when my eating schedule is a little off, especially on really busy days where we’re just on back-to-back calls. But I always order all of the lunches during our Fashion Weeks. I like using that half-hour to eat together and chitchat about things that are not related to the work. We’re also very adventurous eaters, so I feel like the lunch part of the day is almost the most exciting, because we have a full brainstorm of what we’re going to get that day to eat.
On what makes a Fashion Week a success:
Our goal is to make sure our clients feel good about what they do, and I think a lot of the important work is actually done after the shows. We always have a major meeting after the fact, and talk through what worked and what didn’t and what we could do better next season to alleviate some of the stress. That feedback and planning is really important, so that next season, we’re five steps ahead, we anticipate everything.
On spontaneous dressing:
I am actually a very impulsive dresser, so I never plan my outfits, which most people think I do. For any event, even if it’s a very special function like someone’s wedding, I really don’t think about what I’m going to wear until incredibly close to the day. If it’s Fashion Week, I wear what I feel like, and I get ready incredibly fast. People would be shocked. It takes me maybe three minutes to deal with my makeup, do my hair, and get out the door. It takes me another five to ten minutes to dress. I’m ready before my boyfriend is, usually.
On de-stressing at the end of each day:
I’ll do little things that have nothing to do with fashion, like reading The Hunger Games. I honestly read a lot about food. I’m always watching food documentaries, reading up on new recipes, on things to eat. I also watch anime. That’s one of those things about me, I think I’m pretty young-spirited. I think there are some parts of me where I feel like I’m still 16 years old.
On her Fashion Week “must”:
My nails are a big thing for me — I like to self-express through them, and always get them done before Fashion Week with my friend Mei Kawajiri (a.k.a. @nailsbymei on IG). We’ve been friends forever and we always do the most experimental nails together and have a lot of fun during these long, two to three sessions of gels and acrylics. I like to get these big crazy nails; I have to feel good about my nails before Fashion Week.