Gia Seo is a Brooklyn-based stylist, art director, and fan of textures and socks. The self-proclaimed (and keenly self-aware) “sockfluencer” is known for her offbeat sense of personal style and eye for mixing bright colors and verdant patterns with tactile materials. You can see all that and more on her side project @texturenaut, where she boldly explores the final frontiers of all things fuzzy.

She's also continuing to use her voice and platform to amplify the issues and causes that are important to her and her community. Recently she helped raise funds for The Emergence Project, a nonprofit charity serving families in NYC, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which helps provide services for thousands of LGBQT youth. On this episode of Vibe Check we talk jiujitsu, her views on cancel culture, and how to continue to hold brands and companies accountable for putting their money where their mouths are.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Jian DeLeon: What's going on? What have you been up to?

Gia Seo: Not much. I actually got put to sleep this morning by my boyfriend.

JD: Oh. Wow.

GS: My boyfriend is a grappler, so he was doing a jiujitsu move on me that he had seen online. And I don't know, for some reason I didn't even realize it happened, but in two seconds I like woke up on the ground and he was standing over me going: “Gia, Gia, are you okay?”

JD: Wait, he put you in a sleeper hold?

GS: Yeah. He literally put me into a sleeper hold. And then I straight up crumbled to the ground. To be honest, I think that's just the jiujitsu lifestyle. But as someone who doesn't do it, I feel like randomly I'll just be like cooking and he'll just come up and be like: “I'm just going to do this thing real quick.”

JD: Sounds like you've been brushing up on self-defense tactics.

GS: Yes. Actually I believe that, with everything happening with the police right now, jiujitsu is probably something police should learn at a very basic level to be able to deescalate situations. Josh, my boyfriend's coach, is one of the lieutenants in the police precinct in San Jose where they were having the huge riots in California. In his 30 years of being a police officer, he's only pulled his weapon twice. Every other situation he's been able to defuse through jiujitsu, before it escalated to gun violence. So I truly believe that if the police really wanted this reform that they're talking about, that's really the place to start. Sorry to dive right into that conversation so quickly, but I just felt like it tied into the whole jiujitsu thing.

JD: It's as if investing in training and a longer certification process that takes a period of years instead of months results in more competent, trained, individuals.

GS: Yes.

JD: One thing I've admired about how you've treated quarantine is how you haven't stopped going in style-wise. You still dress up in the craziest fits, and to me that exemplifies to me how fashion is a form of escape and that really can make you happy in a very simple “I look at the mirror and like what I see" kind of way.”

GS: I guess now it's been almost five months since I've really been able to do my actual creative work, so being confined into a space with someone else and your schedule starts to kind of become this routine of the same thing every day. When I first started quarantine, it was very much sleeping at 4:00 or 5:00 AM, waking up at 1:00 PM, watching movies and being like: “I deserve this break.” But I had to change my mentality to be more like: “How can I be more mindful about my time? How can I be more mindful in the way I'm communicating with people now?”

Now that work is picking up again, I've been less willing to allow clients to bully me into what they think is correct. I'm willing to have clients feel the realities of what it's truly like to work with someone who really wants to create an impact in marginalized communities and not just have conversations about it.The amount of brands that I've reached out to pitching community initiatives has been really troublesome only because the response back has been: “Well, we don't really know where our future is and we'd rather see dollar signs.” Which makes sense with the economy in a recession right now, but I thought that with everything happening in the current climate in terms of BLM and social justice, that brands would be a lot more open to figuring out reform within their corporate structure before they start moving forward and thinking about profits for the year.

JD: Do you think a lot of the reason companies are talking about these relevant issues is a fear of being “cancelled?” What's your take on cancel culture?

GS: Yeah, I don't support cancel culture. There are definitely brands and people I saw getting canceled where I thought: “Okay, I don't believe in them being canceled, but I believe in accountability, and that's what's happening now.”

There were definitely times when I saw brands and people being targeted and I felt like it was a little bit of a stretch. I felt, in those moments, that it should've been compassionate education instead of bullying and antagonizing. I think that a platform like Diet Prada is really great for the bigger brands. Yes, I believe that there are a lot of big brands who do a lot of really shady things that don't get called out a lot for fear that they are such a big brand. So in that sense, I think that Diet Prada is really a champion for kind of these injustices that are happening in our industry. But once in a while they target a smaller brand or they'll say something like: “Oh, this brand used tweed and totally ripped Chanel off.” And then I sit to myself and go, "Well...everyone's used tweed at one point.”

Stay tuned for new episodes of Vibe Check every Tuesday and Thursday.

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