You may know him for the website he founded almost 15 years ago. But after an awards season styling Joey King, Eng is making his mark in fashion.
Joey King is having a stellar awards season.
For her role in “The Act,” she was nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards. That means she’s been hitting the red carpet and promotional circuit pretty hard since the series premiered last spring. And the Internet has noticed.
King has consistently been delivering on the show-stopping fashion, wearing pieces and designers that are beloved by the industry but aren’t normally seen in this context — Jacquemus harnesses and mini bags, Ann Demeulemeester mesh, literal-full-body Richard Quinn, rainbow The Attico, sculptural Iris van Herpen couture. The person behind these looks? You’ve likely heard of him — just maybe not for styling.
“I never intended to be a stylist. I never wanted to enter the fashion business. There are tons of talented stylists already out there. But I’ve known Joey for six to seven years. And ever since she was a little girl, I just knew how talented she was,” says Jared Eng, best known as the founder and editor-in-chief of the celebrity news site Just Jared. Since February 2019, he’s been styling King.
Over the years, Eng says, he’s helped King hire stylists. But when she needed someone to dress her for Teen Vogue‘s Young Hollywood party last year (King was on the cover of the issue) because she didn’t have anyone at the ready, the actor’s mom asked Eng to step in and dress her himself.
“She really needed a strong look. At that time she had her head shaved, so I wanted something very streamlined for her,” he remembers. “We went for this leather overall look from Ferragamo that, when I saw on the runway, [I knew] was perfect for her. We put it on at the fitting and she just fell in love with it.”
Still, “even at that time, I didn’t think I was going to be a stylist,” Eng recalls.
But one thing — or, one look, in this case — led to another. “A couple of days later, I was at lunch with her and her sister and Joey was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to the Vanity Fair Oscars party in six days. I need something to wear’ — four days of which she was going to be in Milan with Fendi for fashion week. So, basically, there was going to be zero time to fit her,” he says. He ended up going to Europe with King to source her look — a sheer-sleeved Yanina Couture gown. From there on, Eng started styling King in a more official capacity.
Eng says he was always surrounded by and aware of the fashion industry, having grown up in New York. But it was running a site like Just Jared — which covers celebrities attending shows and wearing things that need credits, as these worlds became more closely intertwined — that he got an education.
“It’s trained my eye to really be aware of what works for what people want, what looks chic, what doesn’t look chic. Just being around it for so long really informed my opinion of fashion,” he explains. “Even reading the tabloids that did ‘Who wore it best?’ and roundups these magazines put together — I’m always looking at them for fun.”
Eng founded Just Jared in 2005. It has since expanded to a sister site, Just Jared Jr. (which covers teens and young celebrities), and now says it receives over 11 million visitors per month. He has a team of editors and writers based across the country that handle the day-to-day. “I’m always on my phone available for Just Jared — it’s not like I’m ever turning it off,” he says. Jared Eng Studios, his styling business, however, is just him full-time.
“Having not done the logistics of styling before I started Jared Eng Studios, I didn’t know how returns or shipping really worked. Those are all things I learned on the job,” Eng says, noting that he doesn’t have a full-time assistant at the moment, but he has someone who helps him with some of the logistics of styling. “I do pulls myself and, until I have more clients, it won’t make sense to have a full-time assistant because there’s just not enough to do… Styling Joey is manageable, styling multiple people for awards season won’t be.”
What’s been interesting to him, though, is how his work with Jared Eng Studios has benefited the site (plus the other way around) — like how “[I’ll find] magazine covers because I’m following fashion people and passing them along to my team [to write a story]. It’s helping me become even more entrenched in this business and finding deeper roots, and it’s helping the Just Jared business in ways that I didn’t imagine before.”
Like any other celebrity-focused website, Just Jared has always covered fashion in some capacity: stars at fashion week, stars on the red carpet, stars in campaigns, stars wearing things in general. It doesn’t have a proper fashion vertical (though that’s something Eng is contemplating). But it’s been close enough to the industry that connections have been made — enough to lay the groundwork and make some introductions — and he understands certain aspects about the politics and economics of getting X gown on Y celebrity.
“Just Jared gave me a foot in the door because they were already familiar with my name and my website. It’s not necessarily the same team who’s pitching out for PR, but sometimes it means the PR team would pass me along to the VIP team,” says Eng. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that the VIP will loan to me. But at least they’ll respond. Perhaps if I was a complete newbie in the entertainment/fashion industry, they would just ignore my email.”
Eng still gets a lot of no’s, he says — but he appreciates getting a response at all. And there have been instances that enough follow-up has turned an initial “no” into a “yes.” He cites Alaïa as an example, which took what he describes as “months” of follow-up before he got a loan.
“The answer is always going to be no until you ask,” he adds.
Eng is wrapping up his first full awards season cycle, from Emmys to Oscars, with a major nominee. And as King’s looks got more attention online, he says a handful of renowned celebrity stylists reached out to congratulate him. “Having that kind of validation from peers means a lot to me,” he explains. “When I started Just Jared, people from People and Vanity Fair would reach out to me and also extend their congratulations, and I think that kind of industry nod really solidifies my place. I get more excited about that because it’s the people behind the scenes that have been in the business for longer, usually, and been through cycles and cycles of people. They’re sticking around for the long run. And I feel like so am I.”
It hasn’t all been pleasantries, though. “I know people were talking shit about me, I heard it secondhand,” he says. Still, “successfully putting Joey in great looks and having her put on best-dressed lists, it just proves that I have a point of view and I have some sort of talent.”
As for what’s coming in 2020, Eng is looking forward to getting even more designer credits on King. (She does have “The Kissing Booth 2” coming out, after all — there will be plenty of promo for that.) “She just has such a fun, quirky personality and I want that to be reflected on the carpet,” he says. “I think there’s a lot more potential that we haven’t even tapped into yet.”