Style in Real Life: The cutting edge creative director

Style in Real Life: The cutting edge creative director

what personal style means to him
phil chang, phil chang spring studios

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Jun 23 2022 | 6 min read

With holiday season ramping up, SG readers know you don’t have to be in the spotlight to care about your personal style. While it’s fun looking to celebs for sartorial inspiration for parties and events, it can be more helpful to simply look around you.Seeing what friends, co­­workers, even strangers on the street are wearing may give you new ideas for your own winter wardrobe.
That’s why I decided to document the personal style of a few of my well­­dressed friends ­­ real guys I know in NYC with killer style ­­ in this series, Style in Real Life.
First up? Phil Chang, creative director at Spring Studios.

I first met Phil through an old boyfriend. Aside from a pretty kickass painting of an elephant with a war tank for a head that still hangs in my kitchen today (while not a great bf, the ex was a super-talented artist and illustrator), Phil is pretty much the best thing to have come out of that relationship.

A little younger than me, Phil is one of those people who, if he wasn’t so great, you actually couldn’t stand him. He’s SO smart, and SO creative, and SO accomplished, and I’m constantly impressed by the ideas he has and the work he brings to life. Thankfully, he’s kind and funny and generous, and so low-key about what he does that you sometimes only catch it on the second pass (“Wait, you developed the concept for which Beyonce video?!“)

Phil works at the still very-under-construction Spring Studios. A massive 150,000 square foot space in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood that will eventually hold seven full-service studios and post-production facilities, with a screening room, 12,000 square foot roof terrace, and gourmet restaurant to boot (as part of the design overhaul, the company even took out an entire floor of the existing building in order to loft the ceilings even higher. Crazy, right?!).

Which is why I wanted to shoot Phil in his element – a studio setting with lots of white, lots of light. I love the way his outfit really pops against the background.

Now, this is shameful, but I’m going to admit it: this was my first time shooting on anything but a camera phone.

I know, I KNOW. While I’m obviously still learning, I can already tell the massive difference in output. I’m excited to pick up the in’s and out’s of photography, because it’s forehead-slappingly obvious to see the improved quality of the imagery on a device that was created only for that purpose. I love taking a picture, then looking on the screen to see, “Wow, yeah that IS what that [person/scene/thing] actually looks like.” Just like we talk on SG about the importance in investing in clothes that will go the distance, it’s clear to me that a well-made camera, like the Nikon D800 I shot with, is a good investment for anyone who wants to capture important experiences.




Phil and I talked a bit about his own personal style evolution, dress codes, and the strengths and weaknesses of “fashion.”

On streamlining his wardrobe:

“Graduating from college and moving to New York to a tiny apartment necessitates a lot of paring down, just by default. Then, over the years, as your tastes change, and you’re exposed to more, as you work, and different things become more meaningful to you, and that’s what you keep. For me, I hold on to things that have a lot of meaning, a lot of narrative, and story. Whether that’s nostalgic value, or just miscellanea that speak to stories that I’m interested in – whether that’s something I read about, or something I watched, or things that I’m fascinated by – that’s what I hold on to. Now, I buy much less, and it’s all been reduced down to staples.”

On fashion:

“Fashion has its flaws as an industry and culture. But I also think it’s one of the coolest breeding grounds for creative expression, because everyone has to wear clothes.”

On style influences:

“I’ve always been fascinated by from a very, very early age by science fiction. As I got older, into middle and high school, specifically dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi for whatever reason has pervaded my aesthetic and interests.

Movies like Aliens and – even though everyone hates it – Aliens 3, and Mad Max – movies like that made me want to dress in things like these really thick, super-engineered jeans I’m wearing. These are inspired by biker jeans, so the functionality is there too. Like gussets at the knees so you don’t blow the knees out. Since my work is basically a construction site right now, dressing like this makes sense apart from just liking how it looks.”


My style in three words (or less!)

Stories I Wear.

My first “fashion” memory (a favorite outfit from childhood, your mom taking you back-to-school shopping, etc)

This isn’t the first memory that comes to mind, but I did a tragic and inexplicable amount of Fubu, Kani, and Pelle Pelle throughout junior high. Sorry Mom, and dignity.

For the holidays…Ugly sweater parties: Suit up, or skip ’em?

I have a few Garfield, Peanuts, and Looney Tunes holiday sweaters. The Peanuts one is probably my favorite. It has Snoopy as Joe Cool leaning against a snowman with sunglasses on and it says “Cool Yule.”

Holiday party outfit go-to

I’ll 100% forget to change before an event (holiday party or otherwise) unless the hosts specify a dress code via gently debossed stationery. Otherwise, chances are good I’m showing up in a Beavis and Butthead shirt. 

Favorite “splurge” clothing brand

Right now I’m in search of Undercover pieces from F/W ’08 and F/W ’09. Jun Takahashi took it to 11 with both of those collections. Unfortunately, I’m 6’2″, so Japanese sizing has always been problematic for me.

Try waiting a while before pulling the trigger on expensive stuff. If you’re patient, things that are timeless (and therefore worth investing in) will reveal themselves to you. Also, you might catch a significantly better deal on something that was cost-prohibitive at retail.

Favorite “steal” clothing brand

I relieve Uniqlo of its entire black t-shirt stock once a season.

A man’s personal style is important because…

It’s the most immediate representation of your identity. Before you say anything to someone you’ve just met, your style and appearance have already communicated a ton of information about who you are.

Like Phil’s “Mad Max” inspired denim? Put it on your wish list! Get it here: Balmain Geometric Stretch Denim Biker Jeans, £680

Tell me:

style girlfriend camera, style girlfriend nikon, personal style nikon, personal style blogger camera

Does your workplace have a dress code? If so, do you follow it?

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I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.