If you didn’t already know that Krystle Kemp was the fashion director of Need Supply Co., you might guess she’d be one of their coolest customers. With her modern, minimalist personal style, the Zimbabwe-born, Los Angeles–based merchandiser reflects the brand’s quietly chic aesthetic, one she has helped to hone over the past ten years.
Still, as Kemp tells Vogue.com, fashion was hardly her first professional ambition. Growing up in southern Africa, she was somewhat detached from fashion and dreamed of becoming a scientist. That said, her natural flair for style has helped considerably in her work for Need Supply—and certainly in fleshing out her own wardrobe.
Here, Kemp, who counts Kate Moss as an influence, breaks down her subtle color theory, why she loves flats for work, and how her look on the job continues to evolve.
I grew up in Zimbabwe. Fashion didn’t have a huge presence, or not in the same way it does for girls who grew up in the West. I went to an all-girls school and wore hideous uniforms that consisted of a turquoise skirt with the white shirt, brown tie, and brown blazer. The first fashion choices that I can remember are a little questionable now: dresses with embroidered dragons, hair gel with glitter, silver lipstick with a black outline. It was the ’90s after all. I had no idea I would work in fashion, though. When I was 10, I would have told you I wanted to be a marine biologist, inspired by my older cousins who are both scientists. My degree, though, is in Strategic Advertising. I thought I’d be working in an agency or creative studio, honestly, until I found myself consumed by Need Supply Co.
Getting Dressed Off Her Own Supply
I feel like my entire look might be a bit of a uniform. I do wear a lot of what we carry. I select brands and buy lines based on a real connection to them, and because I really believe in the products. Designers I gravitate towards for my 9-to-5 include Acne Studios, T by Alexander Wang, Kaarem, Toit Volant, Collina Strada, Woman by Common Projects, Rachel Comey, Tibi, 6397, Martiniano, Simon Miller, Lemaire, Robert Clergerie, and Jesse Kamm. I rarely mix in vintage pieces. I love to browse and buy vintage pieces for inspiration and reference, but I don’t end up buying much of it for myself. If I do buy vintage, I’ll keep it to accessories, mostly. My favorite recent vintage find is a pair of round, navy Chanel sunglasses that I found in Milan.
On the Search for the Perfect Boot
Lately, I’ve been wearing Mari Giudicelli’s mules a lot. Flats are the order of the day, I suppose. My go-to shoes would be Woman by Common Projects sneakers or Martiniano Glove shoes. I’ve been searching for the perfect boots this year; something well-heeled, but basic enough to wear with ease. I think I’ll go with the Mei boots from ATP Atelier.
I haven’t taken off my Sophie Bille Brahe Calder Trois ear cuff much since my husband gave it to me for my birthday. I also rotate studs from Faris, Loren Stewart, and Kathleen Whitaker. I have a couple of favorite necklaces from Open House Projects and a pendant that I love from Faris. I use a Collina Strada Novella Bag most of the time as my work bag. I carry a laptop, notebooks, phone, wallet, pencils. If I need a smaller bag in the daytime, I’ll grab my Sac Demi Lune from A.P.C. or a midsize Loewe tote that Gabe brought home from Japan for me.
A Look That’s Evolving
My childhood best friend would always tease me for my aversion to color, and now my associate buyer teases me for my aversion to color and print. I’m expanding my horizons slightly and slowly, but when I’m dressing, I want it to be simple and easy. I have all of 15 minutes to get dressed and ready for the morning rush. If the color palette is streamlined, less consideration is needed: grab-and-go outfitting. I also see my fairly minimal style as a great base. I’m not overly influenced one way or another, and I think it allows me to be pretty objective and flexible in understanding and interpreting what’s going on in the market. I think I’ll always be evolving my personal style, though, so don’t peg me just yet.