Photos by Ruben Henriquez
At just 22, Mellany Sanchez has worked her way up from stock rooms and sales floors to her current position as a Creative Director for Kith NYC. Don’t get it twisted, she didn’t get here overnight. The first lady of Kith has been grinding at some of the hottest thread and kick spots since she was 15. This young blood could be mistaken for an OG in the game; it’s scary to think Sanchez has yet to reach the pinnacle of her career. The future couldn’t be brighter for the soon-to-be NYU grad.
Recently, Mass Appeal had the pleasure of catching up with the Kith Creative Director. We picked her brain about the future of the company, modeling for Nike, Twitter caps lock, and her obsession with Ghostface. Sanchez is truly a product of her environment, the city flows through her veins from the steez down to her speedy articulation. Peep what she had to say in our latest installment of Hey, You’re Cool!
Mass Appeal: So first things first, give us your background and how you ended up at Kith.
Mellany Sanchez: I first started interning when I was 15 years old for Luis Colon, who, at the time, was running Kicksclusive Magazine. He had a sneaker store on Mott Street called Laces.
Then, I got into another fashion internship, I worked at David Z from the ages of 16 to 18. That’s how I met Ronnie. Ronnie hired me and was like, “Who the fuck is this chick?” He always believed in me early on. They never hired young girls at David Z.
I started going to college, started interning for this designer called Hyden Yoo, and he had a men’s brand at the time, just making shirts. That’s how I got down with OAK because he did their production.
How difficult was it balancing all of that?
I mean it was fun, I wanted to. I ended up leaving David Z and went to J.Crew. It’s weird when you work only in streetwear, people don’t recognize the kind of work you do or even care about it. They put me in the stock room. But, I ended up becoming the head merchandiser for their kids store and their Prince St. store. I left Hyden Yoo, but I was full-time at NYU and J.Crew. I had no life but I was really happy there. I tried for an internship that summer, to learn distribution and allotment, ‘cause I had only ever done merchandising. J.Crew gave me the run-around, and I ended up not getting it, so I left.
The next week I started working at OAK, that’s when I started doing social media. I got Instagram, never had a Twitter until this year. So it’s funny what you can do in such a short amount of time. From there I started doing the social media for OAK, that’s when I took off.
You’re nuts doing all this shit.
It was nuts. That was the most informative time in my life, I was at OAK, on some downtown kid shit. I wasn’t satisfied enough and got another internship with Rag & Bone, this growing, corporate company. While I was with them they opened like four stores, they went international. I caught them at a really good time.
I ran into Ronnie that summer. He thought, “This fucking girl is all over the place, she just does so much shit.” So I started talking to him a lot about his brand. I’d always give my opinion and he’d always listen. We’d just talk about things. I left Rag & Bone, ended up doing only social media for OAK, and started slowing down in school because I was doing too much.
I left OAK in May 2013 after I did White Label, the first lookbook for [Kith]. I was not part of the brand yet. It was just letting Ronnie see what I could do. After that Ronnie told me, “You’ve elevated what I’ve done in lookbooks. I need you on the team.” Now, I’m a Creative Director and I’ve got one year left of school.
You’ve only been at Kith for a short time, but how would you evaluate your performance so far?
I’m putting in work over here. I’ve been here 2-3 months. At first I was doing 30 hours a week. Now I’m full-time. I’m definitely taking on work that I didn’t expect to. Ronnie is happy.
Ronnie Fieg has made his imprint on the game in a big way. What’s the most important piece of advice that you’ve received from him?
I think what Ronnie has taught me the most has been about running a business and keeping it at the forefront, as your main focus. I know so many kids who wanna get shit started, but they’re just a bunch of creatives. You need someone who’s about the customers, money, and all that.
A couple months back Kith launched the East Coast Project, which featured a pop-up shop in Miami. How did that go?
It went really well. For me, the most interesting part of that was tying together all of the brands that we worked with. It was Play Cloths, Stance, Herschel, Just Don and Chris Stamp on the West Coast. All these different elements were at play. I was so surprised. We had kids lined up the night of the opening party to the point where it was like, “Y’all gotta go!”
So do you think we’re gonna see an expansion? Obviously the pop-up was a success in Miami.
That’s definitely something we think of when we go into pop-ups. It’s not only about serving those crowds, but also bringing our energy. We did Miami, which was obviously successful. Now it’s on Ronnie to figure out whether it’s the right time. There are definitely some more pop-ups in the works, not only in America either.
On top of all the fashion work that you’ve been doing, you also modeled for a Nike campaign. Tell us about that.
They were gonna do a big event at 21 Mercer, and Nike ended up contacting me mid-January to let me know I’d be the February girl. I was so hyped because I’ve fucked with Nike my entire life. So to think that Nike is looking at me, it’s so cool. The way it was set up, they were promoting these special leggings with the sports bra. It was styled my way, everyone was really chill. They wanted to go with my direction.
As you mentioned, you’re also a huge sneaker buff. What’s your favorite sneaker?
My favorite sneaker is probably the “Infrared” Jordan VIs. I love how tapered the shoe is, it’s a clean silhouette. I love anything that’s tech-y on the top, and it has that super dope tongue. I feel like that was really forward for Jordan, now you see that kind of design on like Rafs (Simons).
You’re a ‘90s baby, right? What are some of your most vivid memories from that decade?
Well I’m truly ‘90s, I was a baby then. But one thing I appreciate from the ‘90s is definitely “Seinfeld.” I grew up watching that; Jerry and Elaine are super influential on my style. I love how Jerry was into sneakers, and appreciate how androgynously dressed Elaine used to be. She used to wear big men’s blazers with weird little crop tops. And then obviously like ‘90s rap music.
‘90s rap, what were some of your favorites?
I fuck with Biggie, Tupac, all the classic rappers. When I was in high school I was super hype and liked all the weird shit like De La Soul, Hieroglyphics, the Pharcyde, Wu-Tang. I used to do my research because that shit was not cool at the time. I feel like high school is when you figure yourself out with your music.
Who’s your favorite Wu-Tang member?
Ghostface for sure, I went through such a Ghostface phase in my life.
You wanted the perched eagle?
Well yeah, I definitely wanted the strong-arm Wonder Woman bracelets. When I was in high school, I started wearing Wallabees because I was trying to emulate Ghostface. And NOBODY wore Wallabees. My homie BB used to make fun of me cause I used to get all these Clarks. I remember there was a spot on 8th street called Rugged Soles. This guy sold me all of the Wallabees he had. I was feeling myself so hard cause I copped these suede baby blue Wallabees. [Laughs]