Mention Nathan Henry
Interview by Lyla Johnston

Stylist Nathan Henry on capturing authenticity and spotlighting trans voices in fashion

Since graduating from Ravensbourne in 2015, Nathan Henry has established themselves as one of the most boundary-pushing stylists in the UK. Having put many a celeb in chic menswear, their self-expressive style has seen their work in nationwide ad campaigns, music videos and even last year’s New Year’s special episode of Top of the Pops. Recently collaborating with top queer photographer Heather Glazzard for a zine spotlighting the fashions of the trans and non-binary community, Nathan speaks to us about their editorial role at Boys by Girls magazine, the challenges of finding a balance and the Sylvanian Families dolls that look just like them.

Nathan Henry

Nathan Henry


Job Title

Fashion Editor, Boys by Girls (2018–)

Based

London

Previous Employment

Freelance Stylist

Place of Study

BA Fashion Promotion, Ravensbourne University (2012–2015)

Website

nathanhenrycreative.com

Social Media

Instagram

What I do

How would you describe your job? And specifically what you do at Boys by Girls?
I'm in charge of all things to do with fashion for Boys by Girls. I do a lot of fashion tasks surrounding this; looking at shoot credits, ensuring brands we want to support are supported, liaising and communicating with PR assistants and other various things.

If you could pick an emoji to describe what it’s like to work at Boys by Girls, what would it be and why?
🥰 I’d say this fits well; the team are a super-supportive and understanding group. It’s one of the nicest things, getting to work with lovely people.

What’s the weirdest thing on your desk right now?
The weirdest thing is probably some Sylvanian Families. They were a gift, both of them are styled like me and the person who gave them to me.

Jess Mahaffey photoshoot, Boys by Girls, 2020
Numero Berlin - Jade Danielle Smith - James

What recent project are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the zine, Tender, which I worked on with photographer Heather Glazzard. It’s a really beautiful personal project, featuring lots of trans and non-binary people, and it means a lot to me.

Tender came from a place of us being really unhappy with the representation we had seen in traditional magazines. A lot of people we know had been really mistreated on set and that was something that we really were disturbed by. It inspired us to create something which lifted people up and empowered them.

We started by just shooting friends or people we knew, and it really grew as our working relationship did, which is great. Often, Hev [Heather] would mention the fashion being bolder or striking and we’d reach out to different brands and ask to loan for the shoots.

“It’s nice to see that we can use photography and fashion to create a social change.”

It was about being open. After the pandemic, a lot of people really understood that it was coming from an honest place. And with profits going to help people with surgery costs, it’s nice to see that we can use photography and fashion to create a social change.

Being able to see people that you feel represent you or your community is really empowering. It also shows a more realistic and authentic viewpoint of the world – the world isn’t just this one set of models which we see, it’s a whole set of diverse individuals, with everyone having a different story to tell and perspective to see the world from.

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Tender - Heather Glazzard - Sonny

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Tender - Heather Glazzard - Arthur

How I got here

How did you land the job?
Originally, I just started shooting for the magazine. I met editor-in-chief Cecilie Harris on a job I was working on; we quickly chatted and she explained about the magazine. Eventually we discussed coming on more full-time.

I think it’s great to know which path you want to follow, or where you might want to work. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people – this is how I’ve started some really great collaborations and relationships.

“It’s easier to ask for assistance than have to fix a mistake.”

What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
After uni, my journey started by assisting and then later styling my own projects. It’s important to build great connections, but also to learn what you can from someone you are assisting.

I went from being at uni to working on magazines like PORT and GQ Style, then eventually I started experimenting with my own styling and visual identity.

It was interesting switching from being freelance to a more full-time role, but definitely fun. A full-time position throws more learning curves at you; it took me a little moment to get used to everything, but I think that’s fine! Rome wasn’t built in a day. I find it helpful to just ask if you aren’t sure how to approach something. It’s easier to ask for assistance than have to fix a mistake.

How do you balance both commercial and personal work in your practice?
I think a lot of the projects, even the commercial ones I have done, are often about capturing real authenticity – whether it be moments of people talking about their style, identity or even something a lot more commercial, such as my work for McDonald’s.

Even if it’s a commercial, if there is an element of trying to capture real sincere or human moments, that interests me and informs a lot of the work I do. I guess it comes from my interests around people and understanding them. If something feels like it has a personal perspective, or a real human element to it, I’m interested in it. It’s the honesty of it which really speaks to me.

“I like work that feels genuine and doesn’t try to be too clever or tricksy.”

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
Films. I find films inspire a lot of my work and help me to understand how I might approach styling someone. Gregg Araki’s Totally F***ed Up changed a lot for me and I think still comes into my work sometimes.

Authenticity. I like work that feels genuine and doesn’t try to be too clever or tricksy. I don’t find [cleverness] makes a lot of sense for the stories I’m aiming to tell.

The Instagram account @britishculturearchive is also something I find so inspiring. I love pictures of the past and I feel like it just captures so many moments in time.

Numero Berlin - Jade Danielle Smith - James

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Finding a balance. I think you’ve got to address why you’d want to do a shoot or job. For me the first thing is passion – does it excite me?

It’s also great to acknowledge if it’s something you think fits with your style or DNA. I’ve often turned down things which might feel too concept-heavy, for example. If I don’t think I’m the right person, then I won’t do a job. It’s good to say no if you don’t feel those things are there. If there’s nothing to be gained as well, that’s often a decider.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
I think knowing your worth is important. Doing a job for cheaper isn’t always better. Know that your time and skills are valuable. If someone is offering money but it’s below what you think you’re worth, say no. It creates an idea that everyone should take low rates for commercial work and, also, that you’ll always work for less.

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Boys by Girls - Jacob Banks

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Boys by Girls - Jacob Banks

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Boys by Girls - Jacob Banks

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
You can learn a lot from the things which go badly, or mistakes you make. Also, listening is just as important as talking or taking action.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Find stylists you’d like to work with or for and reach out – even through Instagram. It’s a great way of introducing yourself.

Send your CV to people whose work really speaks to you, too. Remember that if you’re going to work with someone, find someone who wants to teach rather than just take from you, too.

Mention Nathan Henry
Interview by Lyla Johnston