It’s 2019, and the fashion industry still needs a crash course on inclusivity and diversity. Thankfully, Instagram commentators like Luke Meagher of Haute Le Mode are here to unveil the good, the bad, and the straight-up ugly scenarios happening behind-the-scenes. Whether he’s dissecting the wrongs of Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Stefano Gabbana via witty Instagram memes, or simply educating the masses on the history of legends like Donatella Versace through clever commentary on his YouTube channel, Meagher knows how to translate the ins and outs of fashion for people both in and out of it.
Below, we talked to Meagher about his viral content, the trials and tribulations of the fashion industry, and so much more.
Why did you decide to create Haute Le Mode?
Luke Meagher: “I started in 2015, and I felt like there was no YouTube channel that was doing what I wanted to watch. It took a bit to fine tune, but I really started to get discovered when I did a video on Edward Enninful. That’s when it started to get big.”
“Things really started to blow up within this past year when I created the Instagram meme. It was the same thought process as starting the YouTube channel; nobody else was doing it and I wanted to bring it to the table. That’s basically the motto of how I’ve been running my life.”
You were one of the few people giving an impartial view on fashion, which is enticing in the era of “woke” fashion. How does it feel to be at the forefront of that, and do you think the educated consumer will stick around permanently or will it fade to the next trend?
LM: “I hope the trend of being woke about fashion and the industry doesn’t go away. This is one of the first times we’ve ever broken the barriers of the fashion industry. We’re starting to take away all of the secrets of friends only working with friends; the racism; the nepotism plaguing the industry. So I really hope it’s not just a trend. Our culture is changing, the way we talk about the world at-large is much more social media-based, and we have to understand where things are coming from. I’m hoping we stay on the track we’re on instead of reverting back to what fashion once was, because I think we’re really onto something good.”
There’s a reckoning of sorts, like against Stefano Gabbana for example, because of the internet. How do you think it’s is going to evolve the industry?
LM: As fun as it was to do, publicly shaming Stefano Gabbana was more than just a game. It was necessary. The really hard work is making sure there are diverse teams in big fashion houses to make sure we don’t have things like the Prada monkey debacle. There should be diverse teams in these fashion houses, because if you want to be global you have to understand the cultures you’re trying to market and sell to. You can’t go about business with your small world view; you have to be open to communication and learning. And I understand that brands want to keep their identity, I support that, but the DNA needs to change every once in awhile to better itself.”
With these educational, watchdog-esque social media accounts coming out, not only is the average consumer being educated, but major fashion brands are as well. How does it feel to be a part of that?
LM: “I don’t think about it in terms of educating those major brands, because I highly doubt they even listen to me. I don’t even think I impact the environment so much; I just want to share the information I know about. And it’s not like I’m trying to shame people and tell them what they’re doing wrong and call them assholes; I don’t want to be that person. My goal is essentially to translate all of the facts for people to understand while letting people know that certain things just aren’t okay and don’t work anymore. I get people in my DMs and comments saying ‘No, you’re wrong, you can’t say that.’ And at first I would think ‘I’m really progressive and and great and amazing, why are people telling me what to say?’ And then I really took a good look and thought, ‘Oh, you know what? It makes sense.’ It might take me a little while to take it in and say, ‘Okay, I understand,’ but I also always want to stay open to understanding things that can be derogatory and bad. I tend to throw words around, so even I can be bad and wrong and I can admit to that, and all I can do is work to be better.”
Most people are usually embedded in their perspective, so it’s cool for you to keep an open mind about the world.
LM: “I’m very blessed to have the fans and audience I have, because they research everything in-depth and love to talk about culture. It’s a really give and take vibe, and I feel blessed to have that.”
Your content doesn’t only appeal to a niche market of fashion veterans, but also people who aren’t as exposed to the industry.
LM: “It’s true. People who aren’t adept to the workings of the fashion at all will say that they like watching my videos and find it really interesting. People do enjoy it, and I’m so happy about that, because this is something that I truly love. I love the fashion industry. It’s like a big, TV show full of personalities that also, at times, make horror..”
How do you keep you impartial view as your following grows in the #sponsored influencer world?
LM: “It’s weird because I’m currently curating an Instagram account that’s more about personal style, and so it’s weird when I really love something from, for example, Prada, but then there’s the whole monkey trinket business behind it. But, I feel that if I publicly say something about a brand, whether it’s a critique or calling them out over something they did that’s racist or discriminatory, it shouldn’t make me untouchable. If I am working with a brand I really love and I point out something they did that I feel isn’t right, it’s not an attack. It’s more advice I’m giving them, and I do it publicly because I think other people will also benefit from the things I am saying. So, I do try to stay as impartial as possible, but I’m only human, so it doesn’t always work.
If you really think about it, there needs to be more of this give and take relationship between journalists, influencers, and brands. Now, [media]take[s] money from brands to survive, but they can’t really say anything bad or anything ‘out of line’ with the brand. ”
Have you ever received backlash from a brand or person about any of your content?
LM: “No, and I get asked that a lot, actually. I’ve never had a brand come to me and say ‘No, you can’t do that.’ But, I’ve had people from other brands tell me not to say things about another brand that they have no relation to, which is pretty weird. What everyone has to consider is that this is all my opinion and I’m just trying to have a dialogue. ”
That’s interesting, because the Instagram page @diet_prada has received backlash from brands many times.
LM: “I also feel like I’m very different from everyone else, especially since I’m split between YouTube and Instagram. I’m also split between two industries, in a way, with the YouTubers and fashion, which are actually very separate. I know fashion people watch my YouTube videos, but even there I haven’t gotten any responses about videos in that nature. Honestly, I’m better off without the drama anyway.”
Where do you see fashion, and Haute Le Mode, going within the upcoming years?
LM: “For fashion as a whole, I’m hoping that we’re working towards continually developing healthy relationships between brands and customers. I also hope that we’re more inventive and fall away from the idea of selling commercial pieces solely because it’s the only thing that sells.” ”
It’s the era of the hypebeast. The drama, the collabs, the random “drops”…we’re all obsessed. Do you see the hypebeast era lasting long?
LM: “I can see it staying, but I think it will evolve into something new. When we think of hypebeast, we think of them in just Supreme and Louis Vuitton. But we’re seeing a breaking off group of a genuine menswear audience developing. They appreciate the hype stuff, but also enjoy actual brands and creative ideas. The hypebeast will stay, but it will have a fracture group that’s more developed.”
Who are your favorite and least-favorite designers or brands at the moment?
LM: “I’m really into Matthew Adams Dolan. He’s someone who is really smart, and if Calvin Klein appoints a new Chief Creative Officer, then I personally think Adams Dolan should be considered. I love Matty Bovan and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy; they’re two brands that I genuinely enjoy everything about. Pyer Moss is another brand that I like; I love everything about Kerby [Jean-Raymond] and his brand is just beautiful.”
“In terms of least favorites, to me, it’s like Versace and Michael Kors. It used to be Dior, but now that Kim Jones is taking care of menswear—he’s another favorite of mine—I can’t say that Dior is awful anymore. The thing is, the more I look at the collections and what Maria Grazia [Chiuri] is trying to get at, I still think it’s a loss. But I do understand and see that she has developed a new look and sensibility. She definitely has cultivated an image for Dior that is doing very well, but I also am on her about using things that aren’t hers like the saddle bag or prints from different cultures. It’s like, girl no. But the more I look at the collections, the more I do have hope for her.”