GALERIE.LA's Dechel Mckillian talks sustainable fashion + finding your personal style

I’m so excited to host former celebrity stylist and founder of GALERIE.LA Dechel Mckillian for a residency in our Playa Vista shop! Dechel curates the best pieces- seriously, everything is so chic- but the best part is that everything is ethically sourced and sustainably made. Dechel emphasizes “shopping your values”- be that supporting female founders, BIPOC-owned brands, or just brands that do good for our communities and our planet. We got to sit down with Dechel to hear all about her time working with the Black Eyed Peas, her top styling tip, and how to find your personal style. 

I hope to see everyone at our Playa Vista shop to check out GALERIE.LA! If you’re not in LA, GALERIE.LA is popping up in our Nolita store August 14th and 15th. And of course, you can always shop online.

What’s in your bag right now?

I’m currently carrying a JW Pei cardholder, a hand sanitizer (of course!), Pala sunglasses, and my favorite red lipstick by Suit Beauty!

Can you share your #1 styling secret?

My absolute #1 tip is to get things tailored!!!! I do a lot of vintage shopping and getting things fitted to your body makes everything look better. You can also repair things you already have or change a piece to make it feel new. Tailoring seriously changes everything- big fan.

What are your thoughts on the trend cycle- it’s so hard to keep up with all the microtrends going on. Should we even look at trends?

I don’t follow trends. As an advocate for sustainability, when you buy into trends you don't buy into your personal style. I believe in curating a wardrobe that’s based on your personal style and centered around pieces that you’ll keep for years to come. When I shop I ask myself questions like “can I wear this 30+ times?” and “will I have this piece forever?”

We love that- all about investing in those perfect pieces. But how do you find your personal style?

Look at pieces that you already have in your closet and wear that you love and feel great in. These are good indicators of personal style. I love Pinterest for mood boards. For me, personal style is you saying to the world this is who I am. It’s a big part of self-expression. Make a vision board! Ask youself “who is this person I see myself as?” and start to create your wardrobe from there.

GALERIE.LA is all about sustainability and shopping your values. How do we know if a piece of clothing or a store is actually sustainable and not just greenwashing?

There are a few tiers to what is sustainable fashion- for me, first I’ll look at if the brand is ethically made: Where is the factory? Are the workers being paid a living wage? Are there safe working conditions? Sometimes this is hard to find, but I’ll usually go on this app called Good On You that rates brands on sustainability. If I'm shopping in a store, I always look at what countries the brand produces their clothing in. Second, look for eco-friendly and natural fibers- they’re better for us and the planet. A sneaky indicator of sustainability versus greenwashing is to look at the packaging! Plastic packaging usually means that a brand isn’t truly sustainable. 

Shopping your values is so important to me. I love locally made things, but it extends beyond that. Shop female founded businesses, BIPOC owned businesses, AAPI owned businesses- remember to put your money where your values are.

Can you tell us more about GALERIE.LA’s sustainable badge system?

GALERIE.LA has a sustainable value badge system- all brands are ethically made. We have total transparency with the brand’s manufacturing process- and it’s super unique for a boutique to get those details about the factory. Because we have that transparency, we have 100% sustainability guarantee, so you know everything purchased at GALERIE.LA is doing good for the earth. We love to support artisans all over the world to preserve their cultural traditions- like Rupahaus in Indonesia. Globalization is fading this out, so supporting these cultural practices preserves their traditions and also gives people jobs. The badge system also shows if the fabrics are eco-friendly, if it’s upcycled, or made of recycled materials.

You went from styling Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj to curating and owning a boutique. What was the biggest shock in pivoting from styling to owning a boutique?

The buying and curating side was really easy for me. I imagine GALERIE.LA as a tech platform, so as I was pitching and raising funding everyone in the tech world was like “No there’s not a large enough market for it.” People don't understand what sustainable fashion is- they didn't see the importance of it because sustainability is not a priority in tech. I Started in 2015, so sustainability was really not a hot topic like it is now. Being a black woman entering into the tech world is super rare- less than 1% of VC funding goes to black female founders. It’s not very diverse and supportive about ideas, but I’m so happy I challenged those barriers. I was pitching GALERIE.LA to old white men who wanted to ask their wife about if I was a good investment! Absolutely crazy stuff. 

Finally, we’re dying to know about your time as a celebrity stylist. What’s a crazy memory you have from that period in your life?

I was working with The Black Eyed Peas on a world tour during the time when I Gotta Feeling was like, the #1 song in the world. We were in Japan for the first leg of the tour. We got to Tokyo and had a fitting, and hated all the clothes! I had to go out in Tokyo and buy the outfits for the whole tour. I felt like I was on that game show Supermarket Sweep. It was my first time in Tokyo. It was so funny and stressful at the same time. We were running around trying to figure out Google maps in Japan, no one spoke the language, and we had no idea where any of the cool stores were. Luckily Will ended up looking super cool on the tour in a custom robot suit. I can’t believe we curated that whole wardrobe in 24 hours- absolutely insane.

Thank you so much to Dechel for taking the time to sit down with us! So excited for everyone to shop GALERIE.LA in Playa Vista!


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