"I grew up in Yonkers, New York, then went to Howard University in D.C. and began working at a clothing store in Georgetown. I was doing well, I was making much more money than I am now, by just selling clothes. Then I literally woke up one day and thought, ‘I’m getting out of here.’ So I moved to the city and started doing sales at Bergdorf's. I was on the third floor, in men’s designer collections—sportswear. It was Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Dries Van Noten, Balmain, and Michael Kors. There were only three younger guys around my age that were on the selling floor, but I stood out because I had my own system to develop my client base. I tended to attract certain people, and when you have common interests you are able to cultivate those relationships. I did pretty well, considering that it wasn’t my priority. I worked seven days a week for a really long time—five days at Bergdorf's, and then interning two days at Elle.
Before I moved to New York, I saw a posting online—'Joe Zee needs interns.' At the time I was like, 'What am I going to do with my life? What is it about for me?' I saw that and it kind of all came to me in an epiphany, and I just made it happen. I’ve been at Elle for five years now. I'm currently the assistant editor, so my main duty is to assist the fashion director. We travel and shoot stories for the magazine, whatever she needs help with. In addition to that, I cover accessories like hats, belts, gloves, sneakers, tech, eyewear—all the etcetera, the nuances of a person's character. I keep up based on what I'm seeing on the runways, that stuff trickles down. But I have my own personal taste. Like for whatever reason, I just don’t like wide belts—with the exception of maybe Alaïa.
I don’t think working in the industry has changed my style, but it's become more defined throughout the years. D.C. was very preppy, very popped-collar, Vineyard Vines. The biggest trend in D.C. was a suit with a running shoe. We all made jokes about these people and their weird, tech-y running shoes. The Reeboks, the Nikes—literally, a running shoe. I'm more of a jeans-and-a-t-shirt type. I bought these Public School pants maybe two months ago, and I wear them three times a week. I like their craftsmanship and the fabrics they use. And I'm a Supreme fan. I have their basketball shorts and a ton of their jackets.
I definitely think about beauty, but so many products do the same thing, and that causes a bit of anxiety for me. So the things that I use are products that have been suggested to me. Plus, I'm one of those people who's like, 'If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.' Before, I was just using basic soap and water, but in college, while I was working at Bloomingdale’s, they had this stuff in the beauty section—Lab Series for Men. And you know how those people on the floor are always harassing you? This woman was calling to me to come over, and she put this machine to my face and showed me all this gross stuff going on a big screen. So she sort of scared me into using the Power Wash—I was like, 'All right!' I bought it and I've used it ever since. My moisturizer is always Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer—I try to get it with the SPF. I have no idea what kind of skin I have, but it says 'For all skin types.' I don’t use eye cream, but I started using these eye masks after noticing my dark under-eye circles. I'd been considering them for a while, then I saw an Instagram of P. Diddy wearing some. So I got these Shiseido Benefiance Eye Masks. All the makeup artists are like, 'It’s the best thing because it’s 100 percent retinol!'...whatever that means. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but everyone seems to be pretty into it. I try to do them once or twice a week, when I wash my face in the morning.
I can shower, get dressed, and be out the door in 45 minutes. If I use soap, it’s usually just Dove bar soap. But there's this shower gel that I really, really, really love—Korres White Grape. I like the way it smells. Then I use Christophe Robin Clarifying Shampoo with chamomile and cornflower. I wash my hair every four days, or if it starts looking grey. Instead of a hair cream, once my hair dries after showering, I use an olive oil spray called Organic Root Stimulator Nourishing Sheen Spray. It’s good for the hair and the scalp, too.
My father cuts my hair. He's not a professional, but he's good. My parents live upstate in Beacon, but he has an office in Yonkers where he has a chair, so he cuts my hair there. I get the sides get cut down a bit and then just a shape-up. I'd like to go once a week, but it’s overkill—it’s 20 minutes on the Metro North. In terms of facial hair, I would like to grow full shadow on my face, but it just doesn’t grow. I keep the little bit that I have because it makes me look older. My face looks so baby—without hair, I would look even younger. When people think in their head that you’re a certain age they don’t take you as seriously, and I want people to take me seriously. I think it makes me look older; it makes people treat me differently. Sometimes I reference '70s porn and grow my mustache really full. I don’t really maintain it, same with my eyebrows. And I don’t cut my nails—I get manicures. I try and go once a week...But I never get the cuticle cut, just a buff.
Otherwise, it's Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, always—I swear by them. And I moisturize every single day with Eucerin Body Lotion, but the Lait de Toilette de Collosol is a good a bath lotion. You can pour it in the tub while you’re in the bath, you can use it in the shower while you're still wet and it'll soak right in. I use the Aesop Petitgrain Hydrating Body Gel in the summer. It’s light and leaves this cool feeling on your skin when it’s hot out. And I like Tom Ford Neroli Portofino in the summer when I'm just wearing a t-shirt—it's fresh. But Odin 04 Petrana is my favorite fragrance of all time. I like woods-y and tobacco-y fragrances. I like that all my stuff smells nice.
I don’t really have bad skin, but I’ll get like a bump here or there. I’m also a popper, which is probably bad. Maybe I'll do a face scrub every so often. That GlamGlow is something; I like the smell, and it exfoliates. I’ve tried sugar, too. It's nice, actually—you just wet your face and use actual sugar to scrub. I use tweezers to get at ingrown hairs—but you don’t pull them out, you just take it out from under the skin. You release it. If you pluck it, it will just become another ingrown hair. My dad taught me that. He was a barber in his 20s and early 30s—it was his side job when he worked at a correctional facility. He has great skin—he'll do this thing where he steams his face and then freezes it. I only wash my face with cold water, but I got that from Pharrell, who got that from Naomi Campbell. I heard it on a radio show—it keeps things tight."
—as told to ITG
Yashua Simmons photographed by Brayden Olson in New York on April 6, 2014.