‘Leather Loves’ with stylist Mike Adler

'Leather Loves' with Mike Adler

‘Leather Loves’ with stylist Mike Adler

Introducing: The ‘Leather Loves’ series.


I’ve always loved my job—it has almost developed on its own. Which is strange, because I’m not really a die-hard fashion guy. Of course, fashion is the key element of what a fashion stylist does, but I have never been the one to be at all the shows or find the next break out designer.

Mike Adler dresses model Mae Lapres in leather Valentino Haute Couture for ‘Master & Muse’ editorial S/ Magazine Canada photographed by BAARD LUNDE

What I love about my job has always been the communications side of the work. I’m not referring to being a press agent, but more about the collaborations with designers; brands, and talent. Being able to put a look together is super important, but the logistics, the pace, the ability to get the best looks, the exclusive pieces and the unique, one-of-a kind haute couture—which is so exclusive that it can only be in your possession for at most, a two-hour period—is what’s most rewarding about my work.

For most of my career, I was really learning as I developed. I started in a small city, at a time where there was no university course on styling or creative direction—being a stylist meant you did hair. Now, a fashion stylist is more understood and recognised–though I still seem to carry this from my past. I always put the “fashion” before “stylist” when detailing my job role.

Mike with models on set for Vidal Sassoon and Rankin Photography

I literally thrust into the role as a teenager, by throwing my hand into the air and volunteering to replace the (fashion) stylist who failed to turn up to a photo shoot when I was simply a runner. From styling model talent portfolio composite cards to celebrity talent, magazine shoots, advertising and fashion shows, my career catapulted me from state to state, city and country, with supportive agents and agencies. I eventually arrived to my current base, London, where I look after my clients from all around the world. ­

Paris is now my second home, and NYC and LA offer great opportunity. I often think about how blessed I am for all of this. ICONS have given my work credibility, no doubt more than other artists who have put out incredible work too. For this, I am eternally grateful. Such ICONS have become ongoing colleagues and close friends. Friendships extending incredible invitations to closed events and private dinners which keep me humble and grateful.

Mike styles Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams in a Louis Vuitton Resort ‘20 Leather Biker Jacket for the Spring Cover of S/ Magazine Canada, photographed by RANKIN

This week, we are slowly starting to ease lock down measures in London. This extremely sad situation has devastated many communities and families across the globe. My industry, friends, and colleagues having also been greatly impacted. Job postponements, cancellations, losses, cancelled collections–its infinite. But better to have life than to have none—everyone is respectful and resilient.

It was 3 years ago when I travelled with my now (ex) partner to visit my family on a surprise family birthday reunion for my Father. I remember the exact day when we all drove to an open animal farm in the wine region of Dunsborough, South West Australia. This was the last time we both ate red meat, which quickly extended to a large number of other animals. About a year later, we broke up. But we both kept our dietary habits.

It was recently that I had a conversation with a colleague, who has been and continues to be admirably forceful in her statement that sustainability is the only way forward in fashion. And that I must re-brand myself in every way as sustainable and ethically focused as my USP. I am in total agreement that we should be respectful to our world and do what we can in protecting it but I found this line of attack rather rhetorical, and in rebuttal, I quickly pointed out that for me, my dietary choice was my contribution to an ethical lifestyle.

Similarly, as I am not a die-hard fashion guy, I feel like I ethically have my set of rules in which I live by, the line in which I’m comfortable with. And that perhaps it is more than what others may be doing? I could tell that she was hardly convinced and that maybe I am not actually convinced myself. That my few attempts at a no meat vegan lasagne didn’t quite rate on the sustainability stakes. It was only later, after feeling somewhat conflicted by the conversation, that I wondered if there was more that I could be doing. If I should be doing more? If in this new world post COVID-19, should my line be drawn further? It was only later that I realised–possibly subconsciously—that I do much more.

Mike dresses Lara in a Givenchy SS20 leather bustier for Elle Magazine worldwide, photographed by RANKIN

With my job role, I shop and wardrobe edit for many clients and also within my own, have a one in, one out wardrobe policy. Coupled with quarterly clean outs, in which my items are either upcycled, recycled, donated to a charity or consumer, given to friends or sold via a resell retail application. And it hits me, this stops the contribution to landfill and is a much more ethical approach to shopping.

Now does this mean that going forward my ethical contribution post COVID is enough? Or would I opt for a Louis Vuitton Canvas bag (where leather is only used in its binding) over a Hermes leather tote? Having been asked to contribute to ChooseRealLeather.com, I have to be honest, leather is a commodity I have always valued in design, largely because of its longevity, structure, and the level of craftsmanship. My leather jacket and boots remain as key staples to not be culled from my wardrobe. But by using a by product of what would otherwise be wasted in design—although I don’t generate the meat supply within my diet—it is hopeful that less would end up in landfill than omitting the use of leather all together. Sure, subjective, but we each have our line and I’m content mine is beyond just dietary now!

Pamela and Mike, AMFAR 2019. Photo: Ellen Von Unwerth

So, in another effort to ethically contribute to the world and our communities, and after a bit of a spiel on who I am and the workings of my method, I am thrilled to collaborate on my first feature for the ChooseRealLeather website and social feed. Beginning with this, a visual edit of some of my favourite styling images where leather is hero, I introduce you to my work, my style, and part of myself.

In upcoming features, I am excited to begin my Leather Loves series, where I highlight some of my all-time favourite leather artists and leather products leading the way in craftsmanship and design. Whichever way you feel as a consumer, I hope to share some artistry, creativity, and inspiration in which can be incorporated into your rules, your way, and your style!

xx Mike



Featured Image: Mike Adler dresses model Alexandra Agoston in leather glove by KENZO and leather stiletto by Christian Louboutin for ‘Rues L’air, La Mode Fait’ Tirade Magazine, photographed by BAARD LUNDE