The Genteel
April 19, 2014
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Photograph by Jake Rosenberg.

Toronto natives Erin Kleinberg and Stephanie Mark are a fashionable force to be reckoned with. Having both achieved an extraordinary level of success individually, it was when they joined forces to launch The Coveteur that their careers really skyrocketed.

Literally working behind the scenes (their wildly successful blog gives readers a glimpse into the off-duty lives of the fashion industry's forerunners), they along with photographer Jake Rosenberg, astutely filled a chasm in a digital landscape dominated by street style blogs and the online counterparts of glossy fashion magazines. Since launching just over a year ago, they have shot the closets of Anna Dello Russo and Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, collaborated with ELLE and Teen Vogue, and were even invited to Paris by CHANEL to "coveteur" the luxury brand's rarely seen archives.

The Coveteur
Stephanie Mark and Erin Kleinberg.
Photograph by Jake Rosenberg.

The Genteel spoke with Kleinberg and Mark about their day-to-day, dreams coming true and their steadfast determination to do what they love.

Charlotte Herrold: Tell me about you careers prior to launching The Coveteur?

Erin Kleinberg: I launched a clothing line, Erin Kleinberg, at age 20. It sold in 80 stores worldwide, including Intermix, Barneys and Holt Renfrew. I worked with some of the most influential individuals in the industry, such as Alex White, W's fashion director [at that time].

Stephanie Mark: My background is heavily rooted in styling. I interned at 3.1 Phillip Lim and Intermix and I have editorial experience working at publications like Harper's Bazaar and ELLE. As Kate Lanphear's [ELLE'S style director] assistant, I worked on major ad campaigns like Converse by John Varvatos before moving on to work with celeb stylists, Leslie Fremar and Annabel Tollman. I've styled Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Williams, Charlize Theron and Julianne Moore.

CH: How did the idea for The Coveteur come about?

SM: The idea came up after we watched The Social Network. We saw a void in the industry and that's really what it's all about: finding little niche markets that carry a larger potential. The world of blogging presents an infinite range of opportunities, and we really wanted to deconstruct this notion of street style and explore the closet as the gateway to the outfits and looks that can be created from a simple collection of items. We wanted to show people how the tastemakers they have become obsessed with get dressed every day and peek into how their sartorial choices are made.

It's about who you know, not what a piece of paper says you know. We gained our experience through hands-on internships and joining forces with industry experts. You really have to pay your dues.

EK: We also wanted to reinvent still-life, in a way that fuses voyeurism and an artistic aesthetic that curates a glimpse into the lives of those who seem a bit unattainable or untouchable. The world of blogging helps in bridging this gap, and it creates a more egalitarian terrain that connects the viewers to our subjects in a very exclusive and dynamic way.

CH: When did you first realise you were on to something big?

Erin: The day we launched we had 20,000 hits and our site crashed. Everyone from style.com to Vogue wrote about us. After that, everything sort of exploded.

CH: What is your educational background and how does it relate to what you're doing now?

SM: I went to Parsons, Jake went to OCAD [Ontario College of Art and Design] and Erin went to UWO [University of Western Ontario] for MIT [Media, Information & Technoculture]. We've all come from different backgrounds, but the underlying connection was always rooted in the creation of something new, something that will challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of the creative sphere a little further. We never expected to be where we are now, but we always knew that by building our expertise and defying convention, we'd be doing something we were passionate about.

CH: Do you think education or experience is more important for succeeding in fashion?

EK: Experience, definitely. It's about who you know, not what a piece of paper says you know. We gained our experience through hands-on internships and joining forces with industry experts. You really have to pay your dues.

CH: What advice do you have for other fashion entrepreneurs?

SM: Find a void that needs to be filled. Take that idea and live it, breathe it and eat it. Work with smart people with smart ideas. Passion projects (like ours!) are the most lucrative in the long run. Sounds so cliché, but do what you love and the money will come!

The Coveteur Joanna Hillman
The Coveteur does Joanna Hillman.
Photograph by Jake Rosenberg.

CH: What does a typical work day look like for you?

EK: Depends where we are in the world. If we're away from The Coveteur headquarters, it's a lot of shooting and cabs. Our day usually starts the same no matter where we are, though: answering a slew of endless e-mails with a Starbucks in hand.

CH: What has been your favourite closet to peek into so far?

SM: It's impossible to choose just one. Nicole Richie's stylist, Simone Harouche, was a favourite - she has an amazingly impressive vintage dress collection. Model Brad Kroenig's son Hudson - who is only two and a half years old - has an entire wardrobe of custom Fendi and CHANEL, which we had a blast peeking into.

CH: Speaking of CHANEL, tell me about your recent trip to Paris. How did that come about?

EK: It was a dream come true! CHANEL approached us and whisked us away to Paris for a whirlwind trip of rediscovering the heritage of the iconic luxury brand. We got to attend the Paris-Bombay show, which only a select bunch of people were fortunate enough to see and get some one-on-one face time with Uncle Karl himself.

CH: What are your plans for The Coveteur moving forward? Any more trips in the works?

EK: We're going through some really exciting changes right now - but they can't be divulged just yet. Stay tuned - we promise it will be big!

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