Who Is The Kimbino? Catching Up With Social Media Fashion Historian Kim Russell

by Ian Grafvonluxburg

In a time where social media seems to rule all, it makes sense that archival and previously unseen fashion is now being discussed on online platforms. Whether it be Twitter or Instagram, fashion-related accounts are almost as common as influencers. But how do you know who really knows what they’re talking about and who just reposts pretty dresses? Enter: Kim Russell. A fashion historian and commentator, Russell, aka @thekimbino, is a mostly self-taught fashionista with an endless repertoire of references locked inside her head. There isn’t a single red carpet that is complete without commentary from this smart yet sassy user. From styling looks on Polyvore back in the day, to DMing with some of the industry’s biggest names, the mom-of-one has done it all and is now garnering mainstream attention and acclaim. Here’s who’s behind the social media persona, plus her current opinions, and what we can expect from her in the future.

Congratulations on a busy 2022 so far! How has it been working on all of your new projects?
It’s been really exciting to work on more things this year that are outside of just my Instagram page. I feel very lucky that it’s started out pretty strong but I have a long way to go! Being a mother has just really lit a fire under me like no other and I’m ready to venture further out and do more things, work-wise. 

You were in school for fashion, but left early to start your career. Do you ever think about going back?
At times I think about going back, but those are only the times when I’m trying to maybe apply for a certain job that requires in the job title some technical training or university degree. I never have wanted to go back for myself, it’s just not something that interests me.

You first blew up on Polyvore styling outfits—is styling something that you want to get back into?
Yes, especially recently, I have been absolutely jumping at the idea of styling someone for a red carpet or street style moment. I know it’s not the easiest job but I love to play with clothes and look at [them] all day, when you style someone it’s a meeting of the minds and your whole soul is just draped onto someone else for the world to see. It’s special to me.

 

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A post shared by Kim Russell (@thekimbino)

As someone who has their finger on the pulse, how important do you think social media platforms, like Twitter, have become to the fashion conversation?
It’s very important. Whether it’s a negative or a positive conversation, the conversation is going to be had regardless. It’s where you can hear voices that aren’t in these huge, important rooms because, let’s face it, those rooms are hard to get into. These platforms are a place where we build our own rooms and spaces.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what it means to be a fashion archivist on social media?
I probably can’t sufficiently tell you what it means, but for me, it’s documenting huge moments for fashion nerds and being a source people come to when they want to find something specifically. My page is just a fun extension of who I am. Like, identifying these moments is fun but not ultimately what I want to do forever.

Youve spoken about how fashion is still slow to recognize talent on Twitter—do you think this is changing?
I do very much believe this, and I don’t feel it’s changing in the slightest way. TikTok is more than a decade younger than Twitter and has catapulted people’s careers in fashion within months. Twitter breeds some really fantastic minds with critical thinking. It’s a shame the platform doesn’t have something in place to reward those people like Instagram and TikTok do. Both of those platforms have fashion sectors and partnership teams. 

Back to TikTok! Do you think the platform is contributing to the fashion conversation in the right way?
I think with some users on the platform, they’re spreading the right message and having an open conversation about what the fashion industry is and entails. I’d love to do more TikToks. I would love to vlog at some point. I’m very keen on covering PFW and Milan.

Your finds are always so much fun—how do you do it? Do you just have an encyclopedic memory?!
At this point, it’s very much me relying on my brain and memory when I’m scrolling through candids or red carpets. I’ve spent so much time researching and looking at collections that it’s like second nature. It’s always fun to find something obscure…like Emma Watson in Gaultier!

 

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A post shared by Kim Russell (@thekimbino)

Fashion of the past is very important, but who do you have your eye on for fashion of the future?
Peter Do. Theophilo. Coperni. Trussardi. Heliot Emil. I get stars in my eyes when I look at their clothes!

How has becoming a mom changed your outlook on fashion and your career trajectory?
It’s just pushed me more to not give up because there was a time where I thought I may give up. Being a mother/parent is a 24/7 job within itself, but as my child grows and changes, it has become easier and I’m so excited for what’s to come. 

So what are your future career goals?
I never ever know how to answer this without sounding delusional, but I want to do a lot of different things. Styling, creative directing, producing, wardrobe direction for film/tv, research consulting. Law Roach, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, and Carlos Nazario are people I really look up to. I’m not comparing myself to them, but their trajectory, work, and art is something I truly aspire to.

If you had to pick any fashion person, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would it be and why?
[Lee] McQueen. I just think he would make me laugh with how witty he was, I know he’d give me a run for my money.

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