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With an eye for sleek city style and luxe statement pieces, you'd think Tommy Lei has been an industry insider for years. His blog MYBELONGING and Instagram have both gained a steady following since his site debuted just under two years ago.
From LA by way of Hong Kong, the 25-year-old talent has already been compared to another top male blogger, Bryanboy, who he was constantly mistaken for last NYFW. Initially, he didn't have a background in fashion, but it's clear that Lei's mix of high and low finds and the subtle influences of laid-back LA arm him with a unique style that's all his own.
We caught up with the rising star to learn the secret behind his style and what he's got rolled up his sleeves in the future.
What's your day job and how'd you get your start as a fashion blogger?
"I was a psychology major at Cornell University. Not surprisingly, like many fashion bloggers, my major had little to no connection to the industry whatsoever. I did acquire a knack for people watching (and analyzing), which helps when you're scouting for some street-style inspiration. ??After working extensively at PR agencies, both corporate and fashion-related, I needed a change and FormDecor found a home for me."
What's the story behind your blog?
"MYBELONGING initially started as a way for me to document my material purchases and instill meaning into them. It's since evolved into more of a lifestyle and personal style fashion blog all rolled into one. Now I am simply trying to find MYBELONGING through my belongings (get it?), on my own terms."
What are your thoughts on the Bryanboy comparisons, and how would you describe your own style?
"It's interesting that you brought that up, because I was, in fact, very much mistaken (but flattered!) as said blogger during NYFW last year. I have nothing but the utmost respect for blogger fashionista pioneers who have paved the way for an emerging blogger like me.
That said, my style can be succinctly described as an eclectic yet curated mix of high and low pieces. It's also rather unexpected, in the sense that I've incorporated findings from my parents' closets, as well as the children and women's sections of various boutiques and department stores. I love a good statement and investment piece, no matter the gender or age!"
You emigrated here from Hong Kong when you were quite young. Do you remember your first home and has it influenced your style?
"I do actually. Having grown up in such a global metropolis with world-class shopping centers and behemoth architectural marvels, I never stopped being an urbanite. This is definitely reflected in my day-to-day style, which mostly consists of sleek and streamlined statement pieces that are impactful through textures, patterns and/or proportions."
Who takes your photos and how do you build outfits?
"While I am still on the look out for a designated photographer person in my life, I happily make due with the help of my sister and some very supportive photographer friends (primarily, Jimmy Sianipar, a near and dear friend of mine). ??Every outfit ensemble is the outcome of my current mood and what I instinctively feel is right at that particular moment. I never try to overthink it."
What's your advice for budding bloggers?
"Not that I am in a position to be rightfully dispensing advice, but I sincerely believe everything and anything you do should come from the heart. As long as there's passion and authenticity in what you do, everything else falls into place. And always, be yourself."
Where do you love to shop in LA?
"I tend to frequent Barneys New York and CO-OP, Opening Ceremony, and Zara (who doesn't?), when I am on the hunt and need to do some impulse shopping. Most of the time, however, I am huddled around my MacBook Pro snagging amazing deals on SSENSE, The Corner, Farfetch and YesStyle."
What's next for you—got any big plans or projects coming up?
"Auditioning for the next season of RuPaul's Drag Race, of course. Just kidding. I'll be making my way to NYC this September for New York Fashion Week! I also have some awesome collaborations that are in the works right now—stay tuned."
· MYBELONGING [Official Site]
· Italian Blogger Marta Pozzan is LA's Next Big Style Star [Racked]
· LA Blogger/Stylist Christa Jayne Has a Killer Eye for Vintage [Racked]