Erin Wasson: “I Want to Look Like a Really Chic Ranch Hand”

The Texan model on personal style and her new collection for Tinker Tailor.

After a decade and a half in the business, Erin Wasson is still making runway appearances at Chanel, Alexander Wang, and Givenchy. If you ask us, her longevity has as much to do with her irreverent style and enviable laid-back vibe as it does with the way a dress hangs from her slender shoulders. See the feather headpiece she whipped up to accompany an ethereal Chanel frock, say, or the leather pantsuit she wore to the Met Gala. Now Wasson is capitalizing on her unique personal brand and teaming up with Tinker Tailor, the luxury e-commerce site founded by Aslaug Magnusdottir of Gilt and Moda Operandi fame, to create a customizable 12-piece collection. The fabric, length, and proportions of each garment can be altered to suit individual shoppers, but the real selling point, of course, is the way Wasson’s own individual tastes come through. She sat down with to discuss the collaboration; her favorite looks past and present (find them all, alongside her commentary, in our slideshow); and why, try as she might, she’ll never be able to say good-bye to a little Western fringe.

You’ve designed everything from jewelry to T-shirts to bumper stickers—what about this collaboration was exciting to you?

I thought this was a unique way to allow consumers to make personal choices and to allow for things to be customized in an e-commerce platform. I found out that [stylist] Melanie Ward, whom I have the utmost respect for, was going to be the creative director, and so it just felt right. It all felt really right.

What are your thoughts on customizable fashion?

I think that’s what we’re lacking. Eight years ago we didn’t have Topshop, Forever 21, Zara, and all of these stores. Before that, we didn’t even have H&Ms in the country, you know? So the idea of having something that’s going back to a real connection to the clothing that you’re wearing is a really important thing. 

What inspired the collection?

Everything is directly connected to my roots: Who I am, where I come from, how I’ve evolved, what I was wearing back then, and what I’m finding myself wearing now. I wanted to design wearable pieces. I wanted some things to be really fun, I wanted some things to be for day, and I wanted some things to be for night.

Did you have an ideal customer in mind while designing this collection?

I certainly think that this is the most elevated [collection I’ve worked on]. It’s slightly more grown-up than things that I’ve done in the past. These are definitely pieces that you’re gonna wear out to special occasions. Some pieces are very casual, but we got to deal with really incredible fabrics. I would like to think that anyone who is a fan of my style can find a little bit of that but a slightly more sophisticated version through the collection.

What was your style like growing up?

Women in Dallas put themselves together really beautifully, and they love fashion and there are a lot of outlets and sources to get fashion in Dallas. But when I was a kid, there were a lot of things that weren’t accessible to me; there wasn’t online shopping. I remember shopping at Rampage and stores like that when I was a kid because that was the most accessible form of trend-driven clothing. But I’ve always just worn jeans and T-shirts. I mean, it sounds so lackluster, but at the end of the day I’ve always been quite unfussy with the way I’ve looked at my personal aesthetic. So if you were to go back into my closet when I was a kid, it would look pretty similar except for the fact that I’m slightly more feminine than I used to be, because I used to dress like a boy.

What aspect of your upbringing informed your personal style?

Horseback riding. You have to wear certain pants when you ride and you have to wear certain boots when you ride, so you can have fun with that. Those things become a part of your style whether you know it or not. I played a lot of sports growing up. I was a big basketball player. I think that a lot of my background comes from streetwear and that sort of section of dressing. I think that’s why Alex[ander Wang] and I got along so well. It was very much a mix of streetwear and something a little more elevated than that.

Who are your current muses?

I’ve been doing some work with a company called Nudie Hollywood—they were a brand from 1946. They were known for doing all the stage costumes for Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Gram Parsons. It was sort of this idea of electric horsemen, where it was Western but it was very glitzy, almost on the verge of being campy. I’ve spent quite a lot of time out in Chatsworth digging through the archives. So, there I go again tapping into the Western culture, but that’s kinda where my brain’s been at—a super-luxe version of something that’s very well known to me. The guy who started the company and the way that he saw the world through embellishments and the cars that he drove and the way that he put suits together and the people that he was designing for—those things are extremely romantic to me right now. 

How has your style changed over time?

Maybe it’s my move to California. In New York you leave your apartment and what you’re wearing is sort of what you’re showing to the world all through that day, and people just tend to be a bit more on display in New York than in L.A. I think I’ve just realized exactly what it is that I want to be and what I want to wear. Some days it feels like I’ve become far more lazy, but I think it’s just being so much more in tuned with who you are. And when you’ve been in the fashion industry for as long as I’ve been in it, fads and trends just don’t really woo me.

What have you recently decided that you want to be?

I think about the things that I go back to every day, and it’s like, I want to just always look like a really chic ranch hand. I don’t necessarily want to look like the woman who owns the ranch. I spend really good money on handmade, beautiful cowboy boots. That to me will always trump anything that I’m going to see on the runway.