The Insider: Jayna Maleri
If you ever question the existence of truly nice, genuine people working in fashion, you should probably hang with Jayna Maleri. The digital style director of Condé Nast Traveler is not only the legit loveliest but she’s also the most supportive: Just ask the people behind the under-the-radar clothing lines and about-to-break accessories labels that she champions like mad. Here’s your chance to delve into her new faves and get a taste of her oh-so-winning charm.
Q: You are an expert crafter—and we are impressed! What’s an easy project that even those a lot less skilled than you can tackle this weekend?
A: I think cross-stitch is something—god, this makes me sound like Laura Ingalls Wilder—but I think that cross-stitch is something that everybody can and should take up. If you can thread a needle and you can form an “x” with your hands, you can be a really good cross-stitcher. That’s a great entry-level craft, and the end result looks really impressive.
Q: What is your preferred font?
A: I like Helvetica. I know people hate Helvetica. But I like it. It’s simple. It’s clean. It’s super neutral. I know that people hate it for those very reasons. But, whatever, fuck those people. I like it.
Q: Go ahead and brag: What trend were you hip to before it was cool?
A: Giant pants—which are kind of cool right now. In college, I was very much a hippie. I listened to a lot of Phish. To make money on the side, I sewed clothes for pretty much everyone in my dorm. I would make pants. But it was obviously a lot of trial and error, so I once made a pair that was really, really big but really short. I was like, “These are awesome. I’m going to make these work.” Now I’m seeing everyone wearing that same wide-leg silhouette, and I’m like, “Man, you guys look like Jayna, circa 1997.”
Q: If you could live inside any store, which would it be?
A: Probably French Garment Cleaners, which is in Fort Greene. It’s a block away from me, so it’s sort of like I already live there. It’s for men and women—and since they added some home stuff, it’s definitely a place where I say, “I’ll take one of everything.” It has it all—but in a way that feels very purposeful. Everything in there fits exactly their aesthetic, but their aesthetic doesn’t feel overwhelming or too fussy.
Q: What was the last meal that made you smile?
A: I am in Austin right now and just finished this Mexican breakfast from Tamale House of chilaquiles and migas and refried beans and delicious tortillas. It was so, so delicious.
Q: What was the last craving you indulged big-time?
A: I’m not a huge candy freak, but I’m a little bit of a freak when it comes to Easter candy—just because I really like peanut butter cups that are in the shape of eggs, I really like jelly beans, and I really, really like Cadbury Eggs.
I usually try to not do this because it’s just not good for you, but I bought a little four-pack of Cadbury Eggs and squirreled them away in a little drawer at work and, of course, forgot about them. Like two days ago, I was going into the drawer to get something else and saw them. It was like my stomach took over. My brain wasn’t even responding. The egg was unwrapped and in my mouth and done in a second. It was like I had unhinged my jaw.
Q: Tell us about an Of a Kind edition that’s near and dear to your heart.
A: I have purchased many Of a Kind editions. My very, very, very favorite is this Ace & Jig quilt. Erica and Claire know me so well that they sent me an email a few days before it went up—like, “Hey, head’s up. This is happening.” I was freaking out about it, and it was right around the holidays. My husband got it for me—that was my Christmas present—and I love it so, so much.
Q: What is your best party trick?
A: I can juggle! I forget that I can juggle. When I remember, I definitely will juggle for whomever is in front of me—doesn’t matter if they’re interested or not.
Photo by Jon Pack.