As she launches her new YouTube channel, supermodel Niki Taylor shares the story behind an unexpected family heirloom: this vintage cardigan.
Niki Taylor is not only a supermodel, but a mom, actress, and now, TV personality with the launch of her new YouTube channel on the StyleHaul Network. Since Niki's channel brings fans into her closet, handbag, and beauty routine, we went a little deeper into her very favorite piece of clothing: a vintage cardigan.
So, tell us about this very special cardigan. "I found it in the house that I grew up in, in my old closet––my Mom keeps things, and I was just going through the closet looking through some old stuff, and I ran across my grandpa's cardigan. And that's what I always remember him wearing to keep himself warm, even in Florida, he had these really cool cardigans. I don't know how old this one is or where he got it, but the label looked vintage to me, and it's the perfect brown color. It's the perfect oversized cardigan."
How wonderful that it reminds you of your grandfather. "My grandpa was such a gentleman. And my Dad's the same way, always looking out for others. And he was really good at finding things, so if you ever lost anything, he was really good at finding things, so I remember that too when I look at it and put it on. He was just such a sweet spirit, and that's why I love it, it reminds me of him. And it reminds me of my Dad, because my Dad's a lot like him too. And I love my parents. It's a love cardigan."
I love that. When did you find it? "Probably about two years ago when I was going through my old closet, and I was like, 'Mom, you have grandpa's cardigans?' She's like, 'Oh, yeah, I have a couple of them.' And I'm like, 'I'm taking them. Is that all right?' Because nobody had them, nobody was wearing them, and I've always been a cardigan girl. And I'm like, 'They're mine now!'
Sounds like wearing it make can you feel close to him. Funny, when we go through our closets, we can discover not only clothing, but memories, too. "Exactly. The thing I also go back to is, you know, 'Why didn't I ask him this,' or, 'Why didn't I ask him about his childhood, or just spend a little more time,' because he did pass away when I was a teenager, like 18, 19, and you know, all [at that age] all we care about is ourselves and what's going on in our life. Why didn't I sit down and really… 'cause he had the best stories, he was such a good storyteller. He was always smiling. His name was Kermit by the way. Kermit Taylor. And my Dad's named after him."
Wow. do you ever wonder where that cardigan has been? "Yeah, I love history, and I'm into vintage pieces and all that stuff, because, yeah, if they could speak, if our items could speak, what would they tell us?"
True. Many people think of fashion as something so immediate and glamorous, especially for a model like you. "I totally agree. That's why I love vintage stores. I never really had an attachment to high fashion, I never really kept anything from the '90s modeling days. I always gave [stuff] to my friends and family, but there's always special pieces you keep in a bag, a pair of shoes, or a cardigan, the timeless pieces you just can't give away. But clothes can come and go––everything can. The YouTube channel I did in my closet. I said, 'We have to purge our closets, because if we're not wearing something, give it away, give it to Goodwill, if it's sitting there and somebody else can enjoy it.'"
When you see it hanging in your closet, is there one specific memory or feeling that comes to mind? "My grandpa, in his later years, used to transport cars for a living, so he kind of was like a road warrior, he was always traveling. So it reminds me of him traveling and being in different places and being comfortable where you're at."
That's a great lesson. Sounds like that cardigan probably did go a lot of places! It's interesting how this sweater seems to have opened up a whole curiosity about your family and your past. "Especially in this day and age, we're so, 'OK, gotta get up, gotta go to work, gotta make money, gotta pay the bills,' 'living in] this fast world, it's so nice to just bring it back in. We forget about our history. I find it so weird that not a lot of people are interested in that anymore because of the hustle and bustle and people are trying to make it in the world, and stuff like that. It's important to remember our history too."
Can you tell us about the garment's specifics? "It's definitely wool, and some cotton mixed in with it. So it's an itchy sweater, by itself, so I have to wear a shirt underneath it. It's got brown buttons and it goes with everything, it's a great traveling cardigan, and if the air-conditioning's on somewhere, it's the perfect wrap for a cold building, or to snuggle up and read a book to, listen to some music in, and on a cooler day, to wear for a walk."
As for your new YouTube channel, what was the inspiration? "It is a different world, and we do live in this digital world now, and for me, I wanted to bring my 'followers'––I hate saying 'fans' or anything like that––it brings me closer to them, and they can ask me questions, I want to see what they're doing too... You have to find that balance, you're bringing people into your home, and it's new to me cause I'm a very private person. And [to find out] what are people interested in? So, we tried to bring people into my closet, what's in my bag, a snack for my kid, my favorite smoothies because people loved the smoothies I started making when I was pregnant..."
If people wanted to take a cue from your cardigan and find similar vintage pieces, what would be your advice? "I'm a fan of just Googling shops around you for what area you're in. I look at some reviews and stuff, you kind of have to make it an adventure and search for things, and that's the fun part about it. Whatever makes you feel good, whatever makes you feel comfortable. My style has always been a little bit tomboy-Florida-jean-girl, but it's always changing, and we're always changing, so I think whatever makes you feel good and happy."