Thank God for heroes like Kim Hastreiter, whose lives are committed to opening the door for new talent so that culture can give a voice to the newcomers and remain thought-provoking. The founder of Paper Magazine with a couple thousand dollars and a company who sat at her kitchen table (I can relate), Kim’s mission has remained true to its authentic course since 1984. Beth Ditto and not just Cameron Diaz can grace Paper’s covers, and this site got one of its first and most important acknowledgements in the May 2010 issue on the future of social media (a profound thank you). “In 1984, it was the beginning of everything indie… our whole generation started everything indie… we attracted people to work for us who revolted against corporate culture,” Kim says. Nothing has changed integrity-wise for her: “It is a good time to be indie now as it was then. Small and radical keeps you nimble and able to love change, and corporations hate change.” However, she is proud to have finally gotten an invite to the White House Christmas Party last year, after twenty-seven years of being a true maverick.
A testament to Kim’s convictions on everything from her Ted Meuhling earrings (she has the biggest collection) to the brilliance of autistic artists, her clothing takes a back seat to her facilitation of culture. She has been wearing a uniform for the past fifteen years that is made in many colors and fabrics with her signature bold glasses and sneakers. Despite the energy that she put into her punk, seditionary clothing when she first became the style editor of the Soho News prior to Paper, Kim has always been an artist first. Her passion lies within cultural movements and the fashion, art and music that comes out of them. It is an interesting tidbit – and one that shouldn’t be overlooked – that Bill Cunningham, another tried and true supporter of what is novel and cutting-edge, got her that first styling job, despite the fact that Kim had no prior experience in magazines. Kim saw that there was a whole underground that was crisscrossing and collaborating and that the traditional art community was not addressing it, and it was then that the seeds of becoming one of the preeminent cultural editors began. In rebellion and as a solution, Kim opened Club 57 with Keith Haring, who also modeled in a style piece on John Waters, while people like Robert Mapplethorpe shot fashion stories for her style section of the newspaper.
The breadth of Kim’s experience is vast, but in the vein of the open-minded and custodial lover of talent that she is, I think what most blew me away was how she feels that things weren’t better twenty years ago: “I never think things are worse. I always think they are better and more interesting – just different.”