Photo courtesy of Miles Richie

Miles Richie and the Rise of the ‘Legacy Model’

GARAGE sits down with model Miles Richie, son of—well, you know—to discuss his expanding career.

by Emma Specter
Nov 1 2018, 9:29pm

Photo courtesy of Miles Richie

The crowd milling around the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum on a Wednesday afternoon is pretty much who you’d expect—fashionable children, harried-looking nannies, the odd grandparent—save for Miles Ritchie, who cuts a distinctive, heavily tattooed figure in a black leather jacket, a black knit cap and Gucci pajama pants. Even among the sea of hot Pratt students who suddenly fill the lobby in a Herschel backpack-wearing swarm, he emits a certain famous person glow (perhaps that’s part of how he’s garnered 200,000 Instagram followers).

“If you see me in jeans, it means I’m going somewhere,” says Richie, who is part of a generation of "celebrity kid models"—from Hailey Baldwin to Christian Combs to Fashion Week favorite Kaia Gerber—who are carrying their famous parents’ star quality onto the runway. Richie, son of music legend Lionel Richie and brother of current and former tabloid queens Sofia and Nicole Richie, made his runway debut at Philipp Plein in February. Since then, he’s been signed to modeling agency Wilhelmina and made himself a front row fixture at New York Fashion Week shows from Telfar to Pyer Moss—all impressive achievements for the average 24-year-old, but par for the course in a family as star-studded as Richie’s.

Richie is in town from his home in the Beverly Hills neighborhood of LA, where, he’s careful to note, “I don’t go past Fairfax.” (In the museum, likewise, we didn’t go past the café—I should note, though, that this was my fault, as I’d misjudged my schedule. Richie seemed game.) In fact, Richie has lived his whole life in LA, save a brief stint at boarding school in Colorado, something that becomes readily apparent the moment we order drinks.

“Can I get an almond latte?" inquires Richie politely.

Our server is puzzled: “I’m sorry?”

“An almond latte, please.”

“There is no almond milk. We just have milk and half-and-half.”

The current (him) and former (me) Angelenos at the table take a brief moment to compose ourselves, and Richie resignedly ordered a normal coffee. “That’s unreal,” marvels Richie as the waiter speeds off, in a tone less aggrieved than purely fascinated. “I have not been to anywhere that didn’t have almond milk in a while.” (Welcome to New York, baby!) Richie isn’t allergic to dairy, per se, but he confesses, “It sketches me out a little bit.”

In LA, he favors casual, alt-milk-friendly haunts like Tocaya Organica and Erewhon, where, he says, the Richie men’s shared style sensibility rules the day: “If you see my dad around the house, or just walking around, he wears the same kind of thing I do, track pants and stuff. Lots of Adidas, lots of Nike, Valentino track pants, just that kind of vibe. He’s more of a watch guy than I am, though.”

The notion that Lionel Richie’s son wears in public wears the clothes Lionel himself favors in private makes me wonder whether the “celebrity legacy model” phenomenon is, in part, based on accessibility—are the millennial scions of celebrities just chilled-out, hyper-public versions of their parents that we can access freely on social media? They’re like living versions of our idea of their parents off-duty.

“...a lot of silk. I love silk, it’s one of my favorite things.”

Richie credits his sisters with helping him establish himself professionally, and says his father is “fully supportive” of his modeling career, adding that Lionel has helped him deal with the ups and downs of the fashion world because, “My dad suffered from really bad anxiety, so I get good advice from him when it comes to that.” He has the names of his sisters, father, and mother tattooed in different places on his body, though he plays down his well-known last name, saying, “I’d like to not be viewed as a celebrity person or something. I’d like to be known as a model or an actor, not just the ‘son of,’ or the ‘brother of’.... I’d like to develop my own identity in those scenarios.”

Richie bristles protectively—as any big brother worth his salt might—when asked about his sister Sofia’s paparazzi-friendly relationship with Scott Disick, saying, “It’s just not worth talking about.” He’s much more expansive on the topic of his fashion inspirations, citing Burberry, Saint Laurent, Raf Simons, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga’s newest collections as his current favorites. He’s foraying outside the bounds of modeling, taking on his first acting role and releasing his own design collection with an as-yet-unnamed major luxury brand in 2019.

For Richie, an ideal design collection would feature “drop-crotch pants with hand-lettered Japanese writing on it, and a lot of silk. I love silk, it’s one of my favorite things.” When it comes to his personal soundtrack, Richie listens to everything from James Blunt and Ed Sheeran to Travis Scott to British grime rappers like Skepta and Giggs, and "even some Russian rap sometimes. I can’t understand what they’re saying, but...”

As we repair to the outdoor area behind the musem for a cigarette—his idea, which I eagerly agree to in a journalistically sound attempt to make him think I am cool—we chat about our mutual hypochondria. (Richie embodies the paradox of so many millennials, entranced with juice culture while WebMD’ing his smoker’s cough.) Suddenly, Richie tells me, seemingly out of nowhere, “You’re chill, I like your energy.” This is a) a massive brag that b) runs counter to everything I’ve ever known to be true about myself, but when the Next Big Thing tells you you have good energy, what can you do but trust him?

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Lionel Richie
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