Kim Friday, Editorial Director of Tommy Hilfiger

Editor’s Note: 

Let’s reminisce for a second.  Remember our very first profile featuring Leila, the A-List Celebrity Stylist?  Remember the anecdote Leila shared that shaped her career, the one about the boss that fired and then re-hired her?  Well, turns out that this boss is now the Editorial Director of Tommy Hilfiger.  I’ll let you read that again:  she is the EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF TOMMY HILFIGER.  And get this, she was willing to  be interviewed to share her side of the story, and also her incredible career path to landing one of the most coveted roles in fashion.  Her advice (especially the last answer, which I love), is the kind you’ll print and tape to your bathroom mirror…you know, just like you do with all those Tommy ads ripped out from the magazines at the nail salon ;)

Portrait, Kim Friday / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Portrait, Kim Friday / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Kim Friday’s love of fashion is deeply rooted into her personal history.  Growing up a few hours outside of New York City, Kim has loved clothes for as long as she can remember. 

From about the age of 17 I knew that I wanted to work at a magazine. I went to a little art school in Los Angeles with a double major of business and fashion merchandising.

She worked at clothing boutiques throughout college and interned at Women’s Wear Daily during her senior year, which helped her land  her first dream job as an assistant to Diane Von Furstenberg in New York.

"This shot is one of my favorites, snapped by the talented Paul Bellaart in Amsterdam." / Photo courtesy Kim Friday

"This shot is one of my favorites, snapped by the talented Paul Bellaart in Amsterdam." / Photo courtesy Kim Friday

After DVF, Kim decided to freelance, assisting stylists and editors and slowly securing her own clients.

Being your own boss is great but it also teaches you that no job is too good for you, a mantra I carry with me to this day.

A few years later she found herself back at Women’s Wear Daily in Los Angeles, this time as the West Coast Fashion Editor.

The Los Angeles fashion scene was having a moment. Rick Owens was there, the premium denim market was exploding and everyone from Madonna to Gwyneth were wearing Juicy Couture track suits, putting Pam and Gela’s label on the worldwide map. It was a heady time to say the least.
"This was one of model Anna Cleveland’s first shoots. Her sense of fun bears a striking resemblance to that of her mother, the famed 70s model Pat." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"This was one of model Anna Cleveland’s first shoots. Her sense of fun bears a striking resemblance to that of her mother, the famed 70s model Pat." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Kim was clocking in 80 hours a week, relying on a limited staff and interns to help carry the load.  She gave her junior staff huge opportunities; calling for samples, producing photo shoots, attending model castings, writing, editing….everything.

It was a real opportunity to learn every aspect of the business and make actual contacts that could serve them in the not so distant future when they graduated.
"London is one of my favorite cities and I shot there as often as I could." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"London is one of my favorite cities and I shot there as often as I could." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Leila was one of her employees, and the “dreaded firing incident” (as Kim calls it) occurred when they were prepping for the Magic International trade show in Las Vegas.

From a sales perspective, Magic is the biggest fashion event in the United States. It is held twice a year and buyers come from around the globe to buy the collections of designers who are showing there.

On the Friday night before the show, Kim had been asked to put together a last minute shoot, scrambling to find one-of-a-kind pieces from several designers she had established relationships with.  She promised the designers that she’d ship their clothing back to them first thing Saturday morning so they’d arrive in time for the Magic show on Monday.

I did the shoot and brought all the racks back to the office. Leila wasn’t with me that night and we agreed that I would sort through all the pieces that needed to be shipped out, pack up the boxes and put labels on everything. She would come in Saturday and drop them off at FedEx across the street, then call me with all the tracking numbers.
"A huge production in Nashville: 12 shots, 12 real people, 12 different locations in two days. This young lady was a high school student." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"A huge production in Nashville: 12 shots, 12 real people, 12 different locations in two days. This young lady was a high school student." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

The next night, Kim realized that she hadn’t heard from Leila.  When she called her, Leila told her that she’d been too busy to ship the boxes and would do it Monday.  Kim was pissed.

My reputation with all these designers was at risk, they would never lend me samples like that again because they couldn’t trust me to return them when promised, not to mention the thousands and thousands of dollars of sales that would be lost to them because I had some of their best pieces. I didn’t intend to fire her, but the truth was she played it off like it wasn’t a big deal, like her time was more important than all those designers, that’s what got me.
"Lola Friday wearing her custom Yigal Azrouel coat." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"Lola Friday wearing her custom Yigal Azrouel coat." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Leila was fired, her career continuing down a path separate from Kim’s.  But years later, their worlds collided once again.

Kim was living in New York and remotely overseeing the Los Angeles fashion office of Women’s Wear Daily.  The team was on the hunt for a new fashion editor, and a resume ended up on her desk emblazoned with a familiar name.  Kim tossed the resume aside, remembering what happened just a few years earlier.  

I’m still not really clear on how, but Leila managed to get time on my boss’s calendar. I was on a shoot that day at the beach and got a call from my boss saying she had just met with this girl for the L.A. job and was very impressed, could I meet with her. I said of course and a few hours later, with messy beach hair, I walk into the conference room and find Leila. I honestly couldn’t have been more shocked and I’m sure I spent half the time I was looking through her portfolio trying to figure out what to say, but the other half was spent being impressed.
"What can I say, I felt like a swim." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"What can I say, I felt like a swim." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Completely distracted by the obvious elephant in the room, Kim asked Leila point blank why she should hire her again.

That moment, for both of us, was what Oprah would call an ‘Aha moment.’ Leila owned up to her mistake, she explained how she felt at the time and how as she grew in her own career that moment became a great lesson that people need to be able to count on you.

Kim says that it wasn’t entirely easy to move beyond what had happened, but over time she and Leila became great friends, and calls her one of the best hires she’s ever made.

"I’m a Sonic Youth superfan so styling Kim Gordon was a thrill." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

"I’m a Sonic Youth superfan so styling Kim Gordon was a thrill." / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday

Still at Women’s Wear Daily, Kim’s career continued its steady momentum.  She found herself contributing to W Magazine styling celebrities, working on special issues and writing.  She was completely and passionately absorbing everything that was thrown her way. 

I was afforded incredible opportunities and I dove in head first for every one of them. Shooting on a glacier in Iceland was pretty spectacular, as was sitting in a bank vault in a little village in Germany holding one of the largest rubies in existence in my trembling hands while writing a story for W on gem cutting. I treasure a dress that Rick Owens made for me, have styled some of my greatest idols, and interviewed some of the coolest chicks in town from Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham to Dame Vivienne Westwood.
The Fall 2015 issue of Tommy Magazine / Photo Courtesy Kim Friday