Photography Courtesy of The Gap

Sarah Jessica Parker Doesn’t Consider Herself an “Expert” on Fashion

Press junkets are generally a taxing experience for celebrities and journalists alike. The celebs are ushered into a room where they have a round of speed-date like 10-minute conversations with nosy, unfamiliar people. On the flip side, the journalists must conduct interviews with people who often (and understandably) have little interest in speaking with them. This isn’t the ideal environment to glean meaningful insights; in fact, it’s usually a surefire opportunity for the exact opposite. Yet the media continue to accept these micro-interviews in the hopes that a crumb of something interesting might come tumbling out of a celebrity’s mouth which leads to an insightful, significant story, or in the absence of that, just plain old clicks.

The other even less than ideal scenario, is when you don’t even have this micro-chat in person.

That was my predicament yesterday when I was poised and prepped for my 10-minute phone chat with  Sarah Jessica Parker about the new clothing line she designed for Gap Kids.  I was jittery because SJP, she of the recognizable three-letter abbreviation, is probably the most famous celebrity I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing, and also because she strikes me as someone who is an equal mix of gracious and impenetrable. I was…not wrong.

It’s five minutes past the time my phone is supposed to ring when I receive an email from the PR co-ordinator: “Sorry! SJP running 10 min behind schedule….” When I finally get SJP on the line there’s barely time to say hello before I begin with the obligatory line of questioning  about the clothing she’s designed. (Question: How is designing a kid’s line different than designing a line for adults? Answer: “You think a lot of about comfort and the fabrics next to their skin and elastics and waistbands. We’re thinking about durability and materials and also price point. That’s different when you are designing for adults because…they’re not running around on the playground, painting in classrooms, all those things that children do and should do.”)

But I was more interested in asking SJP about her experiences working as a designer, and how the fashion industry has changed since she first took on the mantle of “celebrity designer.” (She launched her first clothing line, Bitten, way back in 2007.) When I asked her what about fashion has changed since she first started designing — an admittedly reductive question but hey, I’ve been given a heart-palpitating 10 minutes here — her faint tinkle of a voice sounds distinctly annoyed by the question.

“Everything has changed,” she said. “The economy changed, the politics changed, people’s relationship to fashion changed. A whole new generation are purchasing now. Literally everything has changed. [Back in 2007] I was working on an idea that was really new and novel. Up to that point I had never heard anyone say it, but it was sort of the democratization of fashion and making ready-to-wear available and affordable and accessible.”

When I press her to expand on whether she thinks the democratization of fashion has been successful, she says, “I’m not an expert at all. If I make a public proclamation about that, there’s going to be a million people who say I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m just not equipped to answer that,” she continues. “I haven’t studied it. I don’t study or know fast fashion, I don’t know how the world of luxury has changed or not changed, I feel really ill-equipped to answer that.”

Fair enough, SJP. Your collection of kid’s clothes for Gap Kid’s is genuinely adorable and you well-documented love of clogs will always have a place in my heart.


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