June 15, 2024

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They Drink Fashion

Kim Russell Is a New Kind of Fashion Archivist in the Digital Age

3 min read

Kim Russell, better known to her legion of followers as @thekimbino, is reimagining what fashion archiving looks like in the digital age. Countless apps, sites, and social platforms have made the runway’s storied past more accessible than ever. Full archival collections are now just a Google search away. Instagram pages dedicated solely to charting the history of the industry’s most iconic designers have become a dime a dozen, while others focus on the pop culture references that have shifted the paradigm in a major way. But what these online creators with platforms rooted in nostalgia like Russell’s are doing goes beyond aesthetics. With 117,000 followers on Instagram and more than 30,000 on Twitter, the Australian-based researcher is documenting and preserving moments that may be forgotten otherwise, and introducing them to a whole new generation who may have no idea some of their favorite style moments are actually recycled.

According to Russell, it all started on Polyvore. The “social commerce” website, used most commonly by millennials, was founded in 2006 by Pasha Sadri as a community-centric online hub and adopted by the fashion industry. Whether it was putting together outfits and “sets” using products from its expansive online shopping index for fun or entering them into the platform’s competitions, Polyvore had amassed more than 17 million active users by 2012 (before shutting down completely in 2018). And Russell was one of them.

kim russell fashion researcher

Australian-based fashion researcher Kim Russell.

Kim Russell

“While studying for a degree in fashion business in 2015, I’d post my looks onto Instagram,” Russell explains to BAZAAR.com of getting her start on the now dissolved site. “Back then, I was @kimberlythestylist, and my page basically blew up so fast from posting [Polyvore] outfits alone. I reached about 40,000 [followers] and began to fluctuate a lot. I realized I had to start being more authentic, because I was still only posting styling sets. I knew it was a popular thing that got lots of engagement if you were good at it, but I found myself not wanting to do it anymore. So I stopped doing them and started posting more of my fashion research, which turned out to be a good idea.”

jennifer lopez and donatella versace

Jennifer Lopez wearing a Versace chain-mail dress, alongside Donatella Versace.

Rose HartmanGetty Images

Since then, she has carved out a new lane for herself in the industry by researching, identifying, and posting some of fashion’s most memorable ensembles over the decades, often citing the season and collection, on her timeline. From clocking Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits on Sex and the City, complete with a side-by-side shot of the look on the runway, to dissecting long-forgotten red-carpet moments and throwback campaigns, her commentary is a refreshing take on iconic (but sometimes forgotten) references.

Russell’s finger is constantly on the pulse. As for how she determines which moments are worth remembering, the Perth native defers to her gut intuition. “For me, it’s a feeling,” she explains. “It can be the most random thing, like something in a film or a piece of art or furniture. It’s all very individualistic.”

kate beckinsale givenchy

Actress Kate Beckinsale wearing Alexander McQueen for Givenchy’s spring 2001 collection to a London movie premiere, as Russell pointed out on Instagram.

Getty Images

The social media darling has more than earned her spot in the zeitgeist as a purveyor of taste. Brands like Christopher John Rogers, Loewe, Coperni, Peter Do, Theophilio, and Maximilian are on her short list of favorites. And Rihanna is her ultimate style icon, which she attributes to her effortless approach. “She just makes you feel like you could also throw anything on and feel like a rock star,” Russell says. “I love that about her. She’s just like, ‘Take it or leave it, girls.'”

celebrity sightings in new york city january 22, 2022

Robert KamauGetty Images

Despite having loyal followers, like many creators with large online platforms will tell you, trolls spouting negativity comes with the territory. And even though Russell admits that she could “be better” about blocking the haters, she takes a no-nonsense approach. “I hate confrontation, it makes me anxious, but I also won’t let a bitch try me either,” she says. “Maybe that’ll be one of my resolutions this year. More peace online.”

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