When we stumbled across What Would Yeezus Wear a while back, we squealed in delight. Kathleen Lee (the blonde) and Katie Burroughs (the brunette), coworkers at a mobile marketing company, spend their off-duty hours studying and meticulously recreating the public appearances of the Western world's most famous, and most photographed, couple, KimYe. From its carefully orchestrated poses to the spot-on facial expressions, WWYW offers a delightful anti-commentary on celebrity culture. You can scroll and gawk without any tabloid-y bad feelings. The FADER hunted down the pair behind the meme to talk about mixing sincerity with humor and replicating $15,000 designer bags—using paper.
How did you first get the idea for this project? KATHLEEN LEE: Originally I got this denim shirt and wanted to wear it with jeans because I'd seen Kanye do it. We went to take a side-by-side picture and Katie was wearing almost the exact same outfit as Kim. We realized right then it was funny, and made a Pinterest board of all their outfits, noting which pieces we already had and it just took off from there.
Have you always been big fans of Kim and Kanye? KATIE BURROUGHS: I'm definitely not obsessed with them, or any celebrity. Kathleen and I are very different in that way. I know nothing about Twitter or social media, both of which Kathleen has obviously mastered. While Kathleen does all our posts and engages with all our followers, I manage our Fantasy Football team. LEE: I definitely always have been a fan of both. I love Kanye's music and admire his creative vision and style so much, and I'm a huge pop culture junkie so I've always watched the Kardashians' show. I defend it all the time, because they are good at what they do. They know how to entertain, and they've stayed relevant for a decade. Together they are just a force. Love or hate them, people can't stop talking about them. I think that's what makes it funny.
Do you guys make it work with the clothes you have, or buy new stuff? LEE: We own a lot of the clothes. That was really the inspiration for this: We both already like that style. Additionally, we try to keep it on a budget—we can't afford Givenchy—so [we go to] Forever21, H&M. Katie is a huge thrifter and found a few great pieces. We've also gotten creative recently, using shirts as skirts, cutting things, using earrings as embellishments—whatever it takes. Katie recently painted a sweater, and today I made a $15,000 handbag out of a paper bag.
How do you decide who's Kim and who's Kanye? LEE: We both usually want to be Kanye. Kim has killer style, but some of her outfits are hard to pull off without her amazing body. Usually it boils down to who already has the clothes for which outfit. Some we can swap. Generally we try to mix it up if we can just to keep it interesting for both of us.
Could this project have existed in the days before Instagram? LEE: I think Instagram is an amazing community for something like this. Not only do hashtags allow you to find likeminded individuals, but from a creative standpoint Instagram is all about striking visuals. Everyone loves these side-by-side comparison memes, because it's all about the details. I do think Tumblr was the original platform before Instagram, and we have had a great following there as well, but there is a lot of noise there. Instagram is really a pure format for "visual artists" such as ourselves.
Is WWYW about fashion, or something else? LEE: I think it's a lot of different things. It started organically. I do everything in life with a balance of sincerity and humor. I genuinely love Kanye's style and fashion in general, and Katie has this style I admire so much, so the basis is in fashion, but obviously we know the side-by-sides offer both a tongue-in-cheek level of entertainment, as well as a great creative challenge for us to try and nail the composition, color, silhouettes, etc. We love that it's this great experimentation in virality. BURROUGHS: For me, the enjoyment of this project has gone from making outfits that are funny, and making people laugh, to observing the power of the internet and seeing what kinds of connections can be made from this. And I don't mean like, Balmain sending us free clothes– which we're still waiting for– but our reach is worldwide now. I hope we can continue to spread positivity with our silly little hobby.