With 2020 being such a dismal disaster for most, any and all — joy must be cherished, celebrated and called out! All this darkness makes what little light we do have stand out, and Trey is truly a little light of mine.
The model-slash-muse-slash-podcaster-slash-fashion-journalist is a star being born and after scrolling, screaming, liking and sharing their many booked campaigns and editorial spotlights, I had to know more. Enjoy as I unravel the year they've had... so far!
Okay, hi, Trey! How are you doing?
You know, beautiful. I'm alive. That's all I can say. Listen, I'm blessed to be alive. No, okay. I'm doing the best I can. And that's all — 2020 is only about doing the best that you can. Nothing more, nothing less.
Right? I mean, I feel like, in the beginning of 2020, quarantine, we were like, "We're all going to be super productive." That ended in May. Now, if you just see this to the end, that's already a flex.
What was this whole bread thing? It was like everywhere I looked, all of you fake ass, fake Celiac-having ass bitches, all of a sudden popping up: bread, bread, bread, bread, bread, bread. For what?
Photography and clothing: Harris Reed
Like not Celiac Disease and the sourdough. That's not a good combination.
Girl, that's what I'm saying. Fake. When we talk about performance, and I feel like we're going to get there, that's the thing I want to talk about. 2013, all of y'all, "Oof, gluten." And then y'all get locked in the house and you start becoming Pillsbury doughboy? What's the tea?
Someone's not telling the truth. Someone hasn't been telling the truth for a while.
In the words of Karlie Redd, it's a lie, it's a lie, it's all a lie!
It's all a lie! Like, it's all a lie! [laughs] Okay, so I want to start by just asking about you. Because I know you very well, and I'm obviously very addicted and obsessed. I literally share all of your Instagram posts, regardless of what it is. But for those of you who do not know, who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing?
So, my name is Trey. I'm 22 years old. I'm from a small town outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Through the grace of God and the universe and higher powers, I got out the first second I could. When I was 18, I started school at Central Saint Martin's, and I did my BA there and I studied fashion journalism. And then while I was there, I was very much on some "Everybody Hates Chris," my dad has three jobs situation. So, that's kind of when I started modeling, and then just living and just being, the vibes, the kin, the doll. So, that kind of happened.
And then this year, I launched my podcast as an extension of my final major project, which is called OTT. And for those of you who aren't up on any lingo from over the past 30 years, OTT means over the top. I've never been a top. However, I think that my personality goes further than a top. Right? I think we're living at a time in fashion media, where I feel like it's kind of in three categories of 1. no one says what they feel, 2. it's just a lot of anger with no substance, and then 3. it's just kind of there, right? So what I wanted to do with this is get into the journalism, get into the tea, because there are a lot of problems that a lot of people aren't talking about. Because a lot of things now are just PR; no one wants to — and I get that people are afraid, people have jobs, the way that the culture has become — no one really is saying how they feel.
I think that's why we're not happy with fashion at the moment. That's kind of why we're like, "What is this?" No one's like speaking about it, or they're speaking about it in such a volatile way that you can't have a healthy conversation. For me with the podcast, it's like, "Okay, these are people that I love. I respect their work." The respect is there. Once we have that, I'm a very trustworthy person; I want to be someone that you can feel free to share your story with and feel free to share your ups and downs. I'm not going to edit anything out to fit a narrative, you know what I mean? So that's kind of what I do in a lot of words. I'll have a drink now.
As you deserve. I love it in the mug, too. Very like, "Look at me being professional."
It's a mug that I bought for the NHS, it goes towards them.
Okay, beautiful. Would you ever have someone on your podcast that you weren't a fan of?
No. Um, fan...
Well, someone you admire or respected. Someone who you feel like - not like a gotcha interview, but we're going to have a talk, a debate. Let's take Dolce and Gabbana for example.
Do you think OTT could act as a courtroom, almost?
Do I look like Lisa Bloom? Do you see this wig? This is my Annalise Keating wig. You know what? I think never say never, and I think it is very important to have conversations with people who don't have the same experience as you. I just think, for me, I am open to that because I think we do need to have conversations. But right now, at this point in my life, I have too much stress. So at some point, of course, we're going to go there, because I think, journalistically, you need to be able to have those kind of debating conversations.
So, you're in London now; we met when you would come back to New York for the summers when you were in college. Is it like what your routine, your schedule was?
Girl, I wasn't just summering in New York, no. I don't even know if you know this; this is what happened. Basically, schools in England, you have a placement year. That's what we do, normally your junior year. For that 15 months, you work in the industry, like you're interning, and then you go back for your final year.
For me, I spent six months working as a studio assistant for Mowalola. Because of the situation I'm in now, I was very nervous that my visa would not get renewed and I would have no network or any holding in America. I was scared. I was like, what if? Because I've seen this happen to friends of mine, so I was like, "You know what? I've never lived in New York. Let me do this. And there I really learned how to write three pieces a day. It was an experience that taught me so much about myself and gave me so much confidence as a writer because there was no time to be like, "Oh, I'm insecure about this." No, shit had to go out. When I came back for my final year, it just made me feel like, "This is what I want. This is what I'm doing. No one is going to tell me what, period." When we met, we really clicked right away, I'll say. You just made me laugh. I was just like, "This bitch is funny." To this day, I think that @fakeroberts deserves much more attention on the 'gram because those homemade memes, really, they actually are some of the funniest...
"There's always something new, there's always something that we can all have, and I feel like that's what we need to work towards. That unlearning of everyone can do well in their own way and succeed. Someone doing well is not a threat to you. Period."
They're baked with care, tucked in at night.
They're baked with care and gluten-free.
Gluten-free with all the bread. So, I literally did think that you were just summering in New York like, "Let me pick up an internship here and there." So you're a person who is always working.
I'm a to-do list girl. I'm the person that, I'll send my manager emails at like 3 in the morning. Me: please download my WeTransfer that you haven't downloaded.
You're like waiting for the transfer confirmation.
I'm definitely a workaholic, which isn't healthy because I need to realize that productivity is work smarter, not harder. I've always been the person like, even in uni, I would be stressed out. I would go to class and then go to a shoot that I would probably make no money on but it was with a designer that I would love, and then I would go back and do projects. I was always someone that has to be doing something all the time. I think what quarantine taught me is I just want to do what I want; the world is ending, and I feel like we are in a time when we can be multi-hyphenates. We can do different things and no one can put us in a box like the traditional sense of what a journalist is, what a model is, what a designer is.
I feel like we're in the midst of a collapse of the old guard. People who are older who are down can stay, but it's like... this just makes sense to us. I'm just talking to a friend, but I'm doing cool things and I'm interested in the cool things you're doing. So, let's just combine the cool things, meet in the middle and dance.
Let's support each other because the levels, when you talk about the old guard dying out, you see it. That's a thing that I always find so disgusting, this idea of, "Okay, you're going to treat someone horribly because you can put a top and a pair of pants together?" No! You're going to be mean to your intern because you can sew? You better knit in peace. I feel like that kind of cruelty is no longer accepted and allowed because there was never a purpose for it. I think the idea of hierarchy has really — it's demolished. We are at a time when we've watched so many of these lauded people, be thrown down because of all the bad things that they do in the dark. In the words of Faith Evans, "Whatever you do will come back to you." I think what we're building off this creativity, we respect you because of your work, and you don't need to act like a bird. When you go onto a set, you can treat everyone nicely. When you're in an office, you can treat people with care and respect, and that's what we need. There is no need, people should not be in fear when they go to work. People should be excited, and I'm very excited to watch this new generation have manners.
And it's absolutely free! People forget.
It's free, being kind is free. I will always say, there is always a difference between being a bad bitch and a bitch. A bad bitch supports your friends, I'm not going to say "has good credit" because we're all in a collapse. Looks good, is going to make sure that everyone is taken care of. A bitch is just rude. If you're a bad bitch, you already have that confidence within yourself. Nothing that I do is ever threatened by anyone else. I know what I walk into a room with. If you're a bitch, you're just rude. And those never last.
It's always interesting when you see someone who's kind of new and fresh — I feel like I'm kind of new and fresh. Someone who's going hard and trying to be the bitch because they think it's the bad bitch but they're just not being welcoming and they're just making their own journey harder if no one wants to be around them.
"The world is ending, and I feel like we are in a time when we can be multi-hyphenates. We can do different things and no one can put us in a box like the traditional sense of what a journalist is, what a model is, what a designer is."
Making your journey so much harder! And it's scary because we've been indoctrinated to, if you see that's your role model, that's kind of your image. If you think that's how you have to be to work in [fashion] — at some point, we're all adults. We all have to unlearn things that have been taught to us. At some point, you have to unlearn the idea of competition and compete with yourself. That's what's important. It's not like — I was talking to my friend about this the other day, this idea of scarcity. You have this, "I can only have this if I take it from you." In the words of Brother Nature, everybody eats. There's always something new, there's always something that we can all have, and I feel like that's what we need to work towards. That unlearning of everyone can do well in their own way and succeed. Someone doing well is not a threat to you. Period.
Wow, I feel like —
You're honestly preaching right now. I feel like this is simply the Million Man March, and here I am, the million men.
Girl, I'm the million, I'm the millionth person and I'm just tired.
I'm tired that we're still marching. So, I want to talk about this cute little Christian Cowan campaign. So, what was that like? How was that? I feel like an idiot. Because, as you know, a friend of mine was working on it...
Yeah, I met him. He said you're one of his favorite people to ever be around! It was so surreal.
You looked amazing!
Photography: Vijat Mohindra for Christian Cowan x Lil Nas X
I'll explain to you how this all went down, I'm still kind of in a daze. Saturday afternoon, I go to the store to get my gin, I come home, I see a DM from Christian Cowan. In my mind, I'm thinking, "I know this man is based in New York, please do not tell me that I just lost a bag."
I was like, "Lord." Because I didn't see the message, I was like, "Please don't tell me I just lost a bag." I open the message, "Oh, wow, we're doing this campaign." I'm thinking like, I'm in London, is this okay? And he was like, in London, perfect. And I was just like, first of all, what the fuck? I was going through it that morning, and I was like, universe, please give me a sign. That day was just incredible, Christian was so kind and so incredible. When we talk about people putting their money where their mouth is, this is what I'm talking about. 100%. It's for charity, and listen, people love to "oh 20% of the proceeds..." This was 100% of the profits going to charity, right? That meant a lot. People really showing up for the community; that's what I cared about. It was just a beautiful day, the cast was incredible. I'm hearing Heidi Klum's in this, Marc Jacobs, I'm like "What?" In that very Tiffany Pollard voice like, "Heidi Klum?? Helena Christensen???"
When we talk about the industry changing, if you remember the age you got into fashion, a lot of us were in middle school, high school. It was an era where, any time you opened any magazine, it was just a white girl from Russia. No disrespect to them, but when you flip through every ad, no matter who it was, it was never someone who would look like us. And there was never anyone ever visibly queer, never trans, no one ever a gender-nonconforming person. And if they were, it was one season and you never saw them again. Even the Italian Vogue Black issue was incredible, but what change really happened after that? So, it's very beautiful to see. I know we're all tired of hearing the word "representation," but I do hope that the youth sees this and feel good. I think people always think it's corny to say I never thought I would be a model but I never actually did. The fact that I'm even a part of that? I am just grateful, I'm grateful that I can be a part of something like that. Overall, my look was fire, I can't even lie. I was fucking legs for days, I can't even — no, I looked cute.
I screamed. I shared the post like four times in one day.
I screamed, too! I was like, this isn't me, this me? I have to fix my bang. It was great, I'm still shook.
It's fun how things just happen now. Things even with me, they'll just happen through a DM. Someone recommending you, you're on a mood board, and they're like, "Hey, do you want to do this?" And it's not even kind of small creators, local creators, it's these big brands that we're talking about DMing people.
I'm telling you, please. PSA: keep your DMs open. Keep your DMs open.
Keep them open, and always check the message requests, too! People will reach out with just a "Hey, I work at this company or at this brand, do you want to do this thing?" And I'm like, absolutely. It's just so -
We're all just on this platform together. You're on this platform and so is Christian Cowan.
That's what I'm saying. We're all so connected, so don't be a cunt.
Right. Okay, so I also want to talk about your iconic, ongoing, seemingly very familial relationship with Harris Reed.
Photography and clothing: Chet Lo
I can literally see the support from miles and miles away. It just looks very healthy. So, how did that come about?
I first met Harris in first year, probably within the first month: we went to this Stella McCartney talk, and then after we just talked for a couple hours and really hit it off. Then, when I was in second year, they asked me to be their fit model for their pre-collection. What I will say about Harris is Harris is one of the most supportive people I've ever met. In a fitting, any time they put anything on me, "Are you comfortable with this?" Even that kind of language, that level of respect I don't get all the time. As a friend, they've always been very incredible. Especially in June, that was a very terrible time for everyone Black, they've always been an incredible friend and we've always been very supportive of each other. I'm just very proud of them, and I think they're doing their thing. They're very kind, and I always say this, I've never seen someone work as hard as Harris. And that's why they're so successful, because they put their heart into everything. That's my ride or die, that's my bitch. I love them for life. You can even tell!
You can see it online, it's just so supportive. I'm like, "Wow, would love it to be me." It looks amazing, I always like liking their posts of you and your posts of them.
I'm just so proud of them.
What's it like working with Mowalola who I feel has always been cool as shit, but now is world scale and people are talking about this collab, that collab... I want that bag that she posted on Instagram a couple days ago, and I know it's going to sell out before I can get my hands on it, and that's okay...
So Mowa and I first met in first year. And again, it's always me at a talk. I was leaving a talk and CSM has like three levels, but it's open so you can kind of see everyone. She was on the first floor and then she ran down and saw me and was like, "Hey, will you be my muse for my final collection at CSM?" And I was like, "Me?" Because again, I was taken aback, but then I realized I'm the doll. But it was very beautiful watching her do her final collection before all of this. I remember I just fell in love with all the clothes. Have you seen her graduate collection?
With those really low pants and the low jacket. And I just remember, I felt so sexy. At the time, no one was doing that. I'm just very grateful that she's brought me on to some incredible projects. When we did the Tim Walker shoot for W, that meant the world to me because W was the first magazine that got me into fashion. So having those full circle moments with her was amazing, and it's been really beautiful to watch her evolve and take off and do everything on her own terms.
"It's very easy to say everyone was sleeping on me but also, I was sleeping on myself. I didn't see my true value until very recently."
You're literally the main character, people are spotting you from across the room and saying, "Be my new muse." I would die.
I'm actually very shy, I'm very awkward. I'm a deer. I think that's also why my personality is very like, "Oh, okay!"
I will say though, I've never been signed to an agency. I've been through it all, I've been through getting that request to go in, "Oh, sorry. We have someone that already has your look. Oh my god, you have a beautiful face, but hmm. You have a great body, but hmmm." I will say that I'm so grateful for that throughout everything, my work has been through my relationships. I'm a Cancer, I feel everything very deeply. So, it's really beautiful that I've been able to grow with people and watch them evolve into different stages of their career.
Is that a goal of yours to be signed? Because I feel like if that's a goal, it's going to happen soon. You're simply already being booked.
You know what, it's only a goal if someone sees me for me at this point. Because I've been through it, alright. It's so crazy, because I used to go home and I'd cry. It was a two-fold situation of 1. Divine timing and 2. It's very easy to say everyone was sleeping on me but also, I was sleeping on myself. I didn't see my true value until very recently.
Everyone's seeing at the same time right now.
Listen, I stopped sleeping on myself and the world woke up.
So, that's a good segue. You are everyone's muse, but who are your muses? Who inspires you?
Oh my god. So, there are so many people, but this is my thing. I'm not a hater, if I love someone, I'll let you know. It's everyone from Mr. Pearl, icon; Patrick Kelly, legend; The Muglers, like that era to me, *chef's kiss.* Pat Cleveland who was on the podcast, that was just like — like, I'm dead. You know what I mean? Ouija board. This interview is done via Ouija board. Karen Alexander. I'm so inspired by every Black model from the '80s to the mid-2000s, who put up with all the shit and still were able to come. Who else? Dolly Parton, white queen. White queen! Janet Jackson. So many people. It's crazy because my mind could go on for days in this interview. Paris Hilton. Shout out to Paris Hilton, because that documentary... did you watch it?
I haven't seen it yet. But I'm hearing everyone loves it. My friend called me and said "first of all, she's a genius. Second of all, she's a victim. But she's a survivor."
I want that written on my gravestone. "First of all, she's a genius. Second of all, she's a victim."
But that's what I'm saying, multidisciplinary icons. Who else? Diana Ross. Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim, Misa Hylton. Wait! Okay. Let's talk about my two biggest muses of all time: Kimora Lee Simmons and Fran Drescher. Fran Drescher, obviously an icon. That girl. Maybe more Fran Fine than Fran Drescher but anyway. Kimora Lee Simmons, let's talk about Kimora Lee Simmons. Youngest Chanel bride ever, she gave us We Are the World, she showed you that you can marry rich in any nationality. Period. Baby Phat showed us what hip hop fashion was, gave it to the girls, gave us diversity. I've said this before, Kimora Lee Simmons is my first example of a Black person in fashion, running shit, doing shit. Life in the Fab Lane, for a generation of people, showed us you can not only have a seat at the table, but you can be at the head of the table. So, shout out to Kimora. I would do anything. That was a long answer, but Kimora is number one.
But you got there. Everyone loves Kimora. You're right, for us, for people our age to grow up with that being there, and me wearing my little Baby Phat to school, that's iconic.
I hate — I think also because we're Black, and as Black people, I know we're being asked all the time about every issue so I try to not bring it up all the time, but when it comes to representation, that's a national television star network: Kimora Lee Simmons running shit. Bossing white people around. Reparations!
Reparations! Amazing. And then she's relaunching Baby Phat with her adorable daughters, I'm here for the whole family function.
Making sure everyone in her family gets a bag!
Literally. Everyone's getting a bag. Everyone's eating, all the Lee-Simmons' are eating.
Okay, I think that might've been it - oh! My last question is kind of a big one, but what do you want? However that manifests to you, but what do you want?
"Realistically, every time I've ever wanted something tangible, I've never gotten it because I put so much energy into trying to get it and then the universe is like, 'Girl, you better learn.'"
What do I want? You know what's so funny. I want to be happy with whatever I do. I'm not trying to get all super sensitive, but I want to do work that makes me feel fulfilled. I want to just enjoy life at the moment. We are living in very dark times, I want to bring light with what I do. With whatever medium it is, I hope that I can bring just a bit of joy to the girls. If I can do that, then I'm good. I'm calm. In the words of Naomi, I have my career. I think I can also just bring a bit of peace to the kids. Realistically, every time I've ever wanted something tangible, I've never gotten it because I put so much energy into trying to get it and then the universe is like, "Girl, you better learn." And then when I'm chilling and I just release the outcomes, things happen for me.
That's so sweet, Trey. You're one of the sweetest, super hard-working, super cute people in the world. Okay, so I'm going to stop recording—
Stop recording because we have some tea to get into!
Photos courtesy of Trey Gaskin