After spending some time with Michael Phillips Moskowitz it’s clear personal style is an extension of his success.
Creativity seems to be the driving force of Michael’s recent endeavors, whose keen eye and limitless curiosity have now landed him at one of the world’s most celebrated digital marketplaces, eBay. Serving as the Chief Curator and Editorial Director, Michael has been given the opportunity to lead the commerce giant in a direction that provides some context and more specifically tells a story. In fact, upon entering his Manhattan home, it didn’t take long for us to see that amidst Michael’s countless prized possessions, that whether discovered abroad or found closer to home, it’s the stories behind them that speak to Michael the most. With this in mind, we jumped at the opportunity to chat with him further about the role storytelling has played in his on and off-duty pursuits. Today Michael is sharing a unique perspective on his thoughts regarding curation, creativity and what it means to celebrate style. So without further a due, meet Michael Moskowitz whose story may challenge you to make sure your creative endeavors count.
Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop on eBay – Photos by Bridget Badore
To begin with, for the remainder of this interview, I’d like to abandon the first person (I/me), avoid Oprah’s apparent preference for the third person (he/she/it), and adopt the experimental second person (you).
You care about ideas. About what hasn’t yet been done. And you care intensely about people. You obsess. You try to create measurable, meaningful impact not through charity alone but by leveraging learning and laughter—even if you sometimes produce more looks of befuddlement or frowns than snickers and smiles.
Why do you think fashion is an integral part of our lives, and have you learned life lessons/endured milestones whilst shopping/doing something fashion-related or creative?
You’re like everyone else. You’d prefer to be judged by the content of your character rather than the color of your watch strap (or the cut of your jeans). Regrettably, people still tend to take stronger cues and develop impressions based on what they see in the first fraction of a second. So, you make deliberate choices about what to wear, and where. And try to keep instances of mint-colored fedoras to a minimum.
But to make all this heady gibberish simpler, and to restrict the answer more narrowly to fashion, you’d like to make this clear: People should always “dress the part.” Hero or villain, go the distance. Never settle for the role of an hourly extra.
How do you celebrate personal style?
Celebrate? Simple. You participate in an awards ceremony, every third Sunday in the fourth month of each fifth leap year. The winner receives a gilded bust of Euripides, even though it looks vaguely like a bearded Jeremy Scott. Same eyes.
Talk to us about curation – it’s used so frequently now. What have you learned about being a curator in your position at eBay?
The C-word (curator or curation) is inescapably contentious these days. That’s why you prefer to call this work an exercise in “hyper-selectivity.” It’s about consideration. Purpose-driven merchandising. Visual storytelling. A history of the world, by way of a fossil or physical record. In an era of unprecedented choice and infinite selection, it’s important (even vital) to celebrate specificity. If people learn to treat each transaction as a type of democratic decision-making, then the swipe of a credit card is (or will soon be) tantamount to punching a card at the ballot box. You, we, everyone ought to be committed to helping usher in an era of purposeful purchase, intelligent acquisition, or conscientious consumption.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
¿Parla usted Ingles? Or, assuming dreams can sometimes come true, “Would you like to adopt this Scottish deerhound?”
What are you looking to invest more time, energy and interest in this summer?
A yet-to-be-named TV show that Hollywood is buzzing about (and that you’ve been yearning to write, shoot and see). It’s on the precipice of getting picked-up. The basic concept, or what little of it you’re at liberty to share: Pee-wee’s Playhouse meets The Daily Show, centered around products instead of politics.
What role do you think creativity plays in some of the world’s bigger conversations?
You strongly believe (and routinely point to both anecdotal evidence and empirical data demonstrating) that tomorrow’s leaders will emerge, in ever-larger numbers, from today’s creative class. The debates that look likely to shape the future, along with proposed solutions, will no longer be immune to design thinking, or to the cultural heritage of art, design, entrepreneurship and other intensely creative disciplines.
In spirit of this month’s #TSLResolutions, how are you making your creative endeavors count? (In other words: How would you say your work as a designer is impacting the world and/or bigger picture?)
You believe deeply, even reverentially, in the “economies of karma.” That it’s imperative to seek out chances to opportunistically perform good deeds. To help others. To provide aid and support, with no expectation of reciprocity. Social indebtedness doesn’t drive the world. Good deeds do, but the accretive benefits can take years to manifest or produce measurable dividends. The quid pro quo that governs most business relationships is thin and limited. The real riches (and richness) come from what your forefathers in the shtetl might have called mitzvoth. Mind you, awareness of the simple fact (and of the power of this quiet currency) is only beginning to grow.
The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe?
You’re always inspired by, hunger for, and are desperately in search of small surprises. Flickers, here and there, not of familiar, but of unfamiliar light. Lamentably, the speed of life and the scale of business create an almost tragic degree of homogeneity across cities that make originality or rare encounters harder and harder to unearth. But they’re there. You just need to metaphorically “frack” to find them.