Photography by Getty Images
From closet organizer to fashion idol, Kim Kardashian had a plan.
Date December 9, 2021
When Kim Kardashian was awarded the Fashion Icon honour at the 2021 People’s Choice Awards on December 7, it came as no surprise. Throughout her rise to superstardom, the reality-star-turned-trendsetter has cemented herself as a fixture in the fashion world.
But her ascension to fashion royalty didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t due to luck, or even her own eye for style. Rather, Kim Kardashian had a strategy for rising to the top of the fashion world: submit to it.
“I started off as a closet organizer and a stylist, so the fact that I am winning a fashion icon award [is] like a pinch-me moment,” she said standing on stage in an all-black Balenciaga look with gloved sleeves – her unofficial uniform as of recent months. “I have those every single day that designers are willing to work with me. There was a time when they weren’t.”
Because her life over the past fifteen years has been heavily documented, we’ve seen Kardashian’s major style evolution happen in real-time.
Growing up in a well-to-do Beverly Hills family afforded her the privilege to be in proximity to high-profile peers, who soon became her business clients. Before her Keeping Up With The Kardashians days, Kim K was an assistant to Paris Hilton and closet organizer for the likes of Serena Williams, Cindy Crawford and Lindsay Lohan.
Arguably, her superpower was that she never had a standout style vision of her own. Kardashian’s fashion sense has varied with the changing trend cycle, from her Y2K days (who can forget these insanely oversized metallic Louis Vuitton bags?), to her early 2010s business casual era. That is, until she began sporting her own style.
Those who don’t have a natural eye for fashion but want to up their game can look to Kardashian for inspiration. Relinquishing control to a personal shopper or stylist with a clear vision is key to going from trend follower to trendsetter. Kardashian understood this – enter Kanye West.
In season 7 of KUWTK (the year 2012 for those of you who don’t keep up), West famously gave Kardashian a complete wardrobe makeover. The episode shows him going through her clothes and getting rid of her closet staples.
“Kanye definitely inspired me to want to like, be a little bit more of an individual,” she said at the time. “I think my style is just evolving and changing, and I think it should because that’s what life is about.”
That was the beginning of the Kim Kardashian fashion icon era we all know today. When winning the People’s Choice Award on December 7, Kardashian credited West for introducing her to the fashion world.
As she alluded to in her speech, there was a time when fashion insiders wanted nothing to do with her. The star’s former publicist even told her she would never make it on the cover of a fashion magazine – a comment they surely regret now.
Today, Kardashian is sought after by designers all over the world. This is not to say she doesn’t get criticized or made fun of for the daring looks she sports, but that’s kind of the point. She always makes a statement, whether it’s good or bad.
Ultimately, becoming a style icon is about being bold and not being afraid to wear something unique. Kim Kardashian’s story is a lesson in not getting lost in ever-changing trends but choosing to dress how you want regardless of outside opinions.
At some point, it becomes less about what others think and more about the feeling of empowerment fashion can bring. As Kardashian said in her speech, it’s “a dream that I get to wake up and wear these amazing clothes and just try new things.” Most importantly? “Take a risk.”