Buying Less, but Buying Better with Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins
Buying Less, but Buying Better with Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins
- Words Lawrence Schlossman
- Date June 07, 2017
When we were approached by Stephan Jenkins' team to partner up on private sale, I was blown away. Despite being such a fan of his band Third Eye Blind since they exploded onto the late-90s alternative rock scene with their now classic self-titled debut, I had absolutely no idea that Stephan was such a fashion enthusiast. And we're not talking about some casual fashion observer here. No, Stephan's love of clothing is about as pure as it gets and shines through as soon as he starts waxing poetic on his love for Rick Owens or the dangers of fast fashion. Ahead of Third Eye Blind's 20th anniversary Summer Gods tour celebrating their aforementioned debut album, we called up Stephan for a chat about everything from buying less, but better, to his most recent run in with Tom Ford. Along with our conversation, Grailed is pleased to offer a selection of Stephan's own personal wardrobe featuring pieces from Rick Owens, Christian Carol Poell, Label Under Construction and more.
Hey, man. How are you doing?
Great. You guys know that I use the shit out of Grailed…
That’s so crazy I had no idea.
Yeah, I’m a major user of Grailed.
Is that how you get a lot of your Rick Owens that you have now?
It’s sort of a story. Rick saw me wearing one of his dresses at Bonnaroo and he liked it, and we have a mutual friend, so—and, listen, nobody gets it for free—I’m sort of friends and family with Rick Owens now.
That’s amazing, dude.
But because it’s so expensive, I still buy the vast majority of my Rick on Grailed.
Many people around my age are huge fans of yours, but I personally had no idea that you were so interested in clothes. Is that something you keep to yourself? I feel like you don’t give a lot of interviews where you talk about your love of fashion, or am I wrong?
Well nobody asks me! I’m never good at talking about myself, but I love talking about fashion and clothes. I like talking about politics. I like talking about food. I like to talk, but when anybody ever interviews me, mostly it’s talking about me and music and I’m no good at it. I love the idea of us being able to talk about fashion. And I’m such a huge fan of Rick Owens that it’s fun to talk about him.
How did you first find out about Rick and his designs?
So I got my first Rick piece in like 2002, 2003, maybe ’04. I got it at the Archive in San Francisco. They were still carrying it and it was a leather jacket. I still have it. I wear the shit out of it and it looks great. It’s a lamb, lightly padded leather jacket. No collar. It’s just one of the most comfortable jackets. I love it. It’s great.
When you were shopping back then—if you can remember where you were in your life at that point—were you buying clothes, like a moto jacket, because of your love of motorcycles?
So when you were looking for pieces back then or even now, are you looking for stuff that’s going to work functionally when it comes to riding or are you thinking in just aesthetic terms of what looks good?
So I think about it a lot in San Francisco in terms of wind protection and fog, and will this piece actually work on a motorcycle? So I would hold my arms out and one of the nice things about Rick Owens is that the sleeves are really long, which is more comfortable on a bike and you don’t get the wind blowing up your arms.
The functionality that comes with a lot of Rick Owens clothing is something that I think people kind of gloss over because he has such a strong aesthetic look, but there’s a lot of function to the form on top of that.
That’s funny because, you know, it’s a very strong stance but it’s also very humble. It’s interesting because a lot of the clothes I really love come from this real place. Okay, here’s my thought on Rick Owens: Luxury is something that gives you pleasure that you don’t need. It’s something that gives you pleasure, but you don’t have to have it. So his luxury, his thing, is fashion itself. And what I mean by that is, like he’s said himself, something like, “Don’t look at me to make this radical departure. I’m really looking at the same story, I just tell it from different times of the day.” That’s why his old stuff still looks really good to me. And he comes from this Valley, dirtbag upbringing, so a lot of his clothes are just, like, black, stretched-out Keds and oversized T-shirts—that gaudy, Valley, dirtbag aesthetic. That’s the thing that he plays with. It’s so cool and it comes from a real place because that’s his upbringing. It’s not like he’s trying to imitate Dolce & Gabbana.
He’s a super interesting guy with a very specific pedigree that sets him apart. You know, some of the great fashion designers of our lifetime and before, a lot of these people went to the same colleges and apprenticed at the same fashion houses. And I’m not saying that necessarily diminishes their own unique point of view, but Rick is definitely the kind of guy that relishes his outsider nature. Is that something you maybe see in yourself to a certain extent or maybe appreciate from afar? Perhaps you don’t even think about it.
I definitely think being on the outside is something I relate to. But I also like the simplicity of his clothes. I think there’s kind of a humility in them. But there’s also this aspirational quality and this tribal quality and those are all things that I really resonate with. Most of the time, I look different, but I don’t look like I’m screaming to stand out. That’s kind of my sense of it, and my style particularly.
Do you dress the same way to perform in front of thousands of people as you do to go to the supermarket? Are you the kind of guy that has a consistent look or is there some showmanship when it comes to dressing for a live performance like Bonnaroo, which you mentioned before?
Well, there I was wearing a dress and I don’t wear dresses most of the time. I was wearing a dress and boots. I think for the most part I dress different, but I don’t spend my day, you know, wearing normcore haha. I don’t wear dad hats and a flannel. Not that that’s a bad look.
It’s not for you, I get it. I was looking at the photos that your people sent over and I was kind of surprised at how the entire band seems to have this specific, unified look. And I don’t know how intentional this is, but there’s a lot of leather jackets, a lot of black jeans. Do you guys coordinate that at all or is that just for press? Is that something you all talk about openly, or is it an organic thing?
That’s a good question. So there’s this photo that they sent over of us and we’re out in, like, a canyon or a cliff. I love that photo session because the photographer, Danny, was like, “Do you need to change?” And we were all like, “No.” All I did was put on my jacket. I thought that was kind of funny.
You’re about to go on tour and do the big 20th anniversary tour playing your first record. Is it a thing now where you’ve been in the game for so long that there’s less of an emphasis on the visual presentation of the band because your fans are going to be your fans regardless of what you wear—this idea that that you can just wear whatever the fuck you want because you have earned that freedom to an extent?
I actually don’t feel that way at all. I feel like when I play I need to show up in every way there is to show up.
It’s that same idea of showmanship, that’s what you’re kind of alluding to. Certain items are clearly show pieces for just that, a show.
It’s a show piece for a show. And that dress I was telling you about, I wore that a couple times for Bonnaroo, but I won’t wear it again. But that’s why I like to use Grailed because I’ll get a piece and I’ll wear it a few times and, because it’s kind of like a stage thing, I’ll move on to something else. I’ve got like eight or nine pieces that I’ve worn on stage, and they only get worn once or twice more before I sell them. It allows me to stay in the flow of engagement. I’m not kidding when I say that Grailed is a useful tool for me as a performer who’s constantly changing looks.
Is this flow that you’re talking about, this constant change, the main motivator behind the sale you’re doing?
The thing I get all the time is people asking me where they can get this look or that look. When this comes out I’m just going to tweet it because there are a lot of people out there who sort of want to have these clothes.
So it’s another way of providing a service to your fanbase?
It’s just another way of engaging and one that’s extremely interesting to me. It’s one that I enjoy and it’s one that I use.
When we’re talking about engagement with fans, looking at music today specifically and primarily up-and-coming hip-hop artists, it’s almost like fans are engaged with certain elements possibly even more than the music itself. For a lot of these newer guys it’s really about their look and what they wear. How in tune do you think the Third Eye Blind fanbase is to your sense of style? Obviously, you just mentioned people asking you where they can get certain statement pieces that they might have seen you wearing live, and this might be a loaded question, but do you think the Third Eye Blind fanbase is as plugged into the fashion world as some other fanbases might be?
I think some people are, but mine is so weird because I’m really into minimalist, brutalist, goth kind of stuff, but I still always read Highsnobiety and Hypebeast. I love that street stuff. I love Y-3 and I think some of Fear of God’s stuff is great. For basics I’ll wear Daniel Patrick. I’m into Carol Christian Poell, MA+. I have a lot of late-90s Carpe Diem, but I don’t think people would even know what that is. And you know I’m actually doing my first clothing line that’s a collaboration with Nice Collective and it’s kind of, like, “surf travel.” It’s called “Nice Surf.” I spend two hundred days of the year traveling and when I’m not traveling for work, I’m traveling for surfing. It’s this very, technically functional, but still chic clothing—stuff you can wear anywhere in the world.
How involved are you in the design process?
I’ve always loved clothes and design. I’m not cutting patterns, but I’m super into the overall process.
When you think back to when the first record came out almost twenty years ago, how were you dressing?
I was wearing Nice Collective. If you look at our first video, I’m wearing a pair of black army cargo pants, which is something I would wear now. I’m wearing a grey waffle long sleeve that looks right out of Fear of God. I’m wearing a pair of black boots and a leather jacket. I would wear exactly those clothes right now.
So you’ve been into clothes for a long time?
Yeah, I’ve always appreciated people like Mark Twain who only wore a white suit. You know Rick Owens has worn the same thing for 7 years?
It’s a true uniform.
Even beyond that. I love French women. There’s a certain European style which I think is great. And that’s the thing about Grailed, these are still really expensive clothes. But it’s the total opposite of H&M or Forever 21. Don’t go out and be wasteful and spend money on a whole shit ton of cheap items. The French idea is that once a season you get something that really fits you and makes you feel great—makes you feel sort of in alignment and makes you feel lifted. To me, luxurious clothes are like refuge. But they’re always wearing the same shit! Like, they will wear that same outfit pretty much every day for an entire season. And then they’ll go and do something else. That, to me, is much more authentic and cool than constantly buying more and more stuff. And I know I’m being kind of contradictory because I’m always buying clothes and changing, but that’s more about the performance that I do than my actual style that I have. For people who don’t have a lot of money and are just getting started, this is what I would tell them: Don’t get a lot of clothes. Get a few clothes that you really feel great int. Spend more money on a few things you really like than a lot of money a bunch of things that you don’t really like.
I absolutely agree with you. I think what you’re talking about is a very noble way of dressing and consuming. Fashion is always extremely trendy, but I think today more so than ever completely disposable bullshit seems more visible. It’s almost like people are leaning too heavily into trends and they’re missing the whole concept that you mentioned about finding your own wavelength and using clothing to make yourself a more comfortable person.
Yeah, I think you just said it in a nutshell. And that’s why I love Rick.
Has Rick ever mentioned listening to your music? Do you know if he is aware of the art that you create?
You know, I didn’t ask. It never even occurred to me to ask. I used to be friends with Tom Ford and he sent me some really great stuff. I love how he said he wouldn’t dress Melania [Trump], and said he wanted nothing to do with that narrative. And it cost him a lot of customers, but I thought that was so great. It made me go back and rethink how I viewed his clothes. I went to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party and I was like, you know what, I’m going to pull out my Tom Ford tuxedo and Tom Ford shoes. He was at the party and he looked over at me, because he could tell I was wearing his stuff, and I said “Yeah, I’m back in your clothes.”