Just Jared Founder Launches Career as Hollywood Stylist (Exclusive)

Kai Z. Feng
Jared Eng poses in front of a rack of clothes at his Beverly Hills home in a Kelly Cole T-shirt and Haider Ackermann silk kimono bomber jacket.

After 15 years of studying red carpet photos, entertainment blogger Jared Eng has launched a career as a stylist for Emmy-nominated 'The Act' star Joey King, actor Kodi Smit-McPhee and French musician Soko.

The multimillion-dollar Beverly Hills home of Just Jared star blogger-entrepreneur (and now stylist) Jared Eng, perched atop a hill with sweeping views of Los Angeles, is surprisingly unassuming — much like Eng himself and seemingly a key to his success. Casually standing ajar, the front door opens onto a pristine swimming pool and Eng (wearing a vintage T-shirt and jeans by buzzy Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy’s new brand GR-Uniforma) jumps to the inner door with a wide smile. A giant Stranger Things inspired walkie-talkie iPhone case sits on the coffee table in the lofty, minimalist living room, scattered with collectible art, where Eng sat down to speak exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter about his new styling venture — a topic stumbled upon during a party conversation a few nights earlier.

Eng’s styling career was quietly revealed by posts on the new Instagram account Jared Eng Studios that show him styling Emmy-nominated The Act star Joey King and actor Kodi Smit-McPhee. The 19-year-old King, a close friend of Eng’s since meeting him at a charity event in L.A. six years ago, will be styled by Eng for her big moment at the Emmys on Sept. 22. (He personally takes all of the photographs during the fittings to see how the garments would look on the red carpet.)

“I remember her fashion being just less than desirable and I wanted to help make her look good,” he says of his first unofficial client, whom he dressed as a favor in looks by Christian Siriano and Alice & Olivia during New York Fashion Week soon after meeting her. “She’s an adorable, fearless girl and I would say her fashion wasn’t reflective of who she is, her essence.”

After cycling through about six stylists after meeting Eng, King circled back for Teen Vogue’s Young Hollywood party in February, followed by the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, for which Eng pulled a Yanina Couture gown, and March  press events to promote The Act (including THR interview in a floral-print Vivetta dress with a lucite L'Afshar handbag).

Rolled against one wall in Eng’s living room is a long rack of clothes — a signal of his new styling business — alongside a row of footwear and tables stacked with jewelry, tights, hats, bags and accessories including a pearl bra and neck tie by the Ukrainian label Chakshyn and edgy Percy Lau “Eye Shadow” sunglasses designed by Jo Harrison-Hall.

Also in the mix are sheer silk organza layering pieces from Belgian designer Raf Simons and styles by up-and-coming Japanese brands Portvel and Kapital and Parisian menswear brand Boramy Viguier (organza utility vests pulled for Smit-McPhee to wear to Comic Con in Lima, Peru). There is a denim jacket inset with a Daffy Duck-patterned beach towel, a red GR-Uniforma cargo jumpsuit (a pick for French musician and Gucci muse Soko, another client) and a covetable $3,450 crocodile-patterned silver lamé Celine jacket designed by Hedi Slimane, notoriously press-shy.

“Hedi invited me to lunch at his atelier,” says Eng, who apparently left with that jacket. “I was in Paris for fashion week and his team reached out to me and it was insane. He is super mysterious. I was so nervous. He asked me my entire life story. He wanted to know where I came from and how it all happened. I’d say the same thing happened when I met Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman. They were like, ‘You’re Jared? You created Just Jared?’ They were genuinely curious about my story.”

Eng’s story started in Queens, N.Y., where his upbringing was ironically devoid of pop culture. “My parents only allowed my brother and me half an hour of TV a week; they never ever took us to movie theaters or Broadway shows or concerts,” he said. “It was partly the Asian heritage (strict with a focus on school and work, work, work) and the other part was religious, as I grew up Christian.”

He is one of a rare breed who has survived the ups and downs of the blogging business long-term with practically no self-branding: “Technically, I was blogging before blogs existed. Blogs are just a journal in reverse chronological order and I had journal entries on a free web-hosting site, Tripod or Yahoo, where I would write about daily goings-on. I was @thegeocities/jaredeng or something and hopped around a few sites until I got to college [in 2000 at Columbia University, where he majored in computer science] and blogs popped up like Xanga and Livejournal.”

Columbia is where his self-described “binge” on pop culture began. “Once I discovered pop culture, I started to write about it and I was doubling down, so my journal about myself slowly evolved into a journal about celebrity,” he says. “I noticed I’d get more traffic whenever I’d write about people other than myself. Pop culture cycles through people so quickly, they would have gotten sick of me. It was like an adrenaline game. I would want a hundred people on my site and then a thousand. I was probably making a nickel or a dime a day. Now that it’s been 15 years, it’s slowly escalated and I can make a living. And this is how the styling came about.”

Eng says his new styling business was born out of a love of fashion and years of experience on the Just Jared job. “I would say I have a trained eye for it now because I have been looking at these types of photos for 15 years and know what looks good on the carpet and in everyday wear and I’m passionate! It all comes down to how things photograph. You can have a cheaply priced dress that will still look good on the carpet or an expensive piece of clothing that can look cheap on the carpet; it really depends on how it looks photographed.”

He continued: “I want to push [clients] to be more daring and to have fashion be an extension of who they are, to enhance their fashion sense. I have also credited all these brands for years on my website and now I’m like, ‘Oh, can I please borrow this dress?’ I have this history with these designers so I want them to scratch my back. It takes a village to put someone together and people want and deserve credit. I supported people early on and they remember.”

Eng moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and his average team goals are 80 daily posts on JustJared and 30 daily posts on JustJaredJr. To quantify his entertainment media business (focused on swiftly breaking image-driven Hollywood news, often with head-to-toe fashion credits), Eng says that JustJared and the teen-focused JustJaredJr. have over 10 million unique monthly viewers. The Instagram accounts of the brands boast 1 million and 283,000 followers, respectively, while his personal page counts 128,000 followers. The 37-year-old entrepreneur runs the business (a team of 10) with his 41-year-old brother, Jason, chief executive officer, and says the company continues to gross “seven figures.”

He attributes his success to “consistency and speed, when I was first starting out, and from there it was a ripple effect,” adding that people would pick up the news from JustJared because it was published there first. “And I think that people want to work with me because I am respectful, easy to work with, drama-free, want to help people, and am always around. Your reputation is everything in this town.”

Let's just say he was the sole journalist (out of the chosen 150) to have access to Rihanna every night during the seven-day "777" tour for her seventh album Unapologetic in 2012. And Eng mentions off the cuff that it was “surreal” when Beyoncé saw him at the Roc Nation pre-Grammys brunch at Soho House and said, “Oh my God Jared, congratulations on all your success!” while a giant HBO billboard emblazoned with her face loomed on a skyscraper out the window. Another of his golden moments of validation was when renowned Hollywood publicist Leslie Sloane programmed her contact information into his Blackberry as he was leaving a party.

While he is discerning about his clients, and time is limited given the 24-7 demands of his business, Eng says that would-be clients can DM him on Instagram, noting that he hopes to hone in on male clients.

What’s next? Eng says that he can imagine designing custom pieces for his styling clients, mentioning as an aside that he’s open to one day selling the Just Jared media group.  (This is officially a jump on Just Jared.)