Growing up in New York City feels like a dream for most, with the glamour and allure of the city skyline defining pop culture for several decades and housing some of the biggest names in fashion.
For Kit Keenan, this collective fantasy has been her reality for the past 23 years. With a mother in the fashion world and a father in the art world, Keenan admitted that the storylines we're fed from Gossip Girl are actually "very similar" to her life.
"I started going out very early in New York when I was still in high school, just like they do in Gossip Girl," Keenan told ELLE Australia. "There's also a lot of art, culture and events, which is how I grew up because that's what my parents do, so it just heightened that experience for me."
Keenan, whose resume reads — influencer, fashion designer, podcast host and avid cook — has already achieved a lot for someone in her early twenties. But as she'll tell you, she's really just getting started.
Her mother, award-winning fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, has been instrumental in teaching Keenan about individuality, especially when it comes to personal style.
"I've been really into old Ralph Lauren ads right now," she muses, of her current style inspiration. "Vintage 90s ones have been really cool for inspo."
Keenan calls herself a "big Pinterest girl", but isn't a fan of the look du juor that might be big one moment and irrelevant the next. Buying into the trend cycle isn't her modus operandi, which is why it makes sense that her biggest style icon is someone who is certifiably timeless.
"My overall style icon is Jackie O — everything she wore was incredible, just so chic, and timeless," she revealed.
"I feel like it's good to have somebody from history as a style icon because their style is inherently timeless because it's stuck in a period of time, whereas people that are currently considered icons, their style is still changing."
With her foot firmly in Gen Z, Keenan is intermingled with a new generation of people who are becoming more aware of their environmental footprint and a desire to shop more sustainably.
"That's part of the reason why I feel guilty about consuming," she said, of the rampant, unsustainable practices that have become synonymous with the fashion industry.
"It's good to buy pieces from somebody who's already loved it and worn it, and it's unique which allows me to create outfits that people haven't seen because they can't recreate that.
Keenan's self confessed "addiction" to scrolling through second hand websites (like The Real Real) has seen her nab a pair of silver Chanel Sling Backs that have become her latest obsession.
"Most of the high end or designer pieces I have are secondhand," she explained. They [The Real Real] have tons of lightly used/lightly worn pieces that are more rare — I couldn't just go and buy them in a store now. I love pairing basics with those types of pieces because it totally elevates them."
Despite her love of thrifting and styling, her relationship with fashion is more complex than people might imagine. Interestingly, it's her observance of her mother that has, in some ways, deterred her from pursuing a career in fashion.
"I grew up watching how hard my mom works, and how much work is her life, I don't know if I really want to be working in fashion," Keenan said.
"I love being on the influencer side, consuming fashion and appreciating it, but I also have seen the darker side. It's a very hard industry to work in. The sustainability aspects of it are kind of hard to digest and so are the ethics of the industry. I don't think I want to work in fashion as I get older, but I'll always be adjacent to it because of my mom and my work as an influencer."
Her influencer title can feel like a tricky one at times, as she struggles to balance the online perception of 'Kit' with the people who know her personally. Admitting that social media impacts her real life relationships, Keenan explained that the juggling of personas can be tricky at times.
"If I'm struggling mentally in my personal life, people that I'm friends with in real life will hit me up and be like 'where are you,' and 'why are you so MIA?'. I have to explain what I'm going through because they're seeing my life online and it looks perfect. I feel like I've handled people in cyberspace, but now I'm trying to navigate how my job affects my personal relationships," she said.
It's the toxicity of the online world that has led Keenan to dig deeper into her other passions, uploading content around home cooking which separates her socials from your typical fashion blogger.
For her, cooking is a source of great joy and stillness in her life, with Keenan explaining that it's a great way to disconnect from the online world and do something tactile with your hands — a welcome distraction from the 'digital age' we're so dialled into.
"Being an influencer and sharing my life online can get toxic at times," she revealed. "Sharing my recipes has made me the happiest, especially when people say they've tried them. I really want to get more people cooking and falling in love with the kitchen the way I have, so that's my goal moving forward."
Perhaps the most touching detail of all, is that despite her desire to create a separate career path outside the fashion world, her love of cooking is still tied back to her mother, with the pair bonding over precious time spent cooking together.
"My mum was a great cook, but she was always so busy working," Keenan explained. "She would come home late and our time to bond was in the kitchen, so I've always cherished my time there."
The blending of these seemingly very different worlds has allowed Keenan, as someone who could easily have existed inside one box, to create an entirely separate one that she can call her own. She's one to watch.
kit's must-have pieces for a capsule wardrobe
- A good pair of jeans - Vintage Levi's or reconstructed Levi's are amazing, I would say light wash
- A pair of black trousers
- A fitted blazer
- Some sort of long coat if it gets cold where you are, like a trench coat or long wool coat
- A basic white tee
- A basic white button down
- A little black dress