Tan France Wants You to Know He's Not Vain

It's "for the kids like me," he says, that he continues to find his spotlight. On this week's "Ladies First" podcast, he also shares the "bananas" reason he launched his own clothing line.

Tan France
Photo: Marcus MacDonald

At this point, you're used to seeing ladies here week after week on Ladies First with Laura Brown. But this week we decided to switch it up by bringing the first man (still counts as a first!) on the show, who's equally as lovely, deserving, and badass as our favorite women.

Fashion extraordinaire Tan France certainly brings a lot to the table, from his hit Netflix show, Queer Eye to his keen eye for style and perfectly coiffed hair ("I blow dry it with mousse and then [add] some pomade," he reveals). But there's a lot more below the surface, and the reason he always looks stellar and put together on the outside? He just wants to feel good on the inside.

"I don't think it's vanity. I want to use everything in my arsenal to make me feel the best I can about myself," he tells InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown. "It is doing all you can to make yourself feel good as possible."

He continues, saying that his job, which entails the style makeover portion of Queer Eye, is to teach others how to dress in a way that empowers them — not create a runway ready wardrobe.

"I'm taking these people who don't dress the way you would dress at New York fashion week; they are dressing for their normal lives. I make sure they understand the importance of just putting clothes on that they like, that make them feel good."

Chasing that feel-good feeling is part of what got him started in the first place, but what keeps him going is a larger sense of responsibility and fulfillment from the work. As a South Asian, Muslim, and queer person, he knows what it's like to not see yourself represented on TV.

"What I love most about what I'm doing now is that I get to be a version of a person that we've never really seen on a global platform before," he explained to Brown. "For the kids like me back in the day thinking, 'Does truly no one care enough about our stories to ever think to put us on TV?'"

He continued, "And so I just think, 'Why should I go away? Why [would] I just want to skulk off into the shadows and be like, 'OK, I did my one show and that's good enough.' No, I don't want to go away. I want you to continue to see me and think, 'Oh, there should be more of him.'"

Even Tan France has bad hair days: Episode 45: November 2, 2021

InStyle Ladies First with Laura Brown

This podcast may contain cursing that would not be appropriate for listeners under 14. Discretion is advised.

So what's next for France? As a longtime fashion designer, France is returning to his roots to create an affordable, gender-neutral collection of outerwear that allows everyone the opportunity to look and feel their best.

"Somebody reached out a few months ago and said, 'If you could do anything, what would it be?' And the only thing I could think of was outerwear," he said adding that fashionable outerwear shouldn't cost you a fortune, but too many luxury coats these days cost "literally months of rent."

"Who is spending money like that? It just seems bananas to me," he said. "I wanted to create a more affordable version of lovely outerwear, that is a statement piece that has a detail that makes it interesting." Just at a fraction of the price. France recently told us in an interview that each piece in the gorgeous, fashion-forward collection will ring in at $500 or less and will be available at thmbl.com starting this month.

France also recently took on another, uh, project that is taking up a lot of his time (and sleep). In August, France and his husband Rob France welcomed a little bundle of joy named Ismael.

When asked how he is sleeping, he responded with the typical new-parent answer. "That's a question we ask every parent because that really is the most important thing," he joked. "The answer has been for the last eight weeks: No, I didn't sleep."

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple, PlayerFM, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And tune in weekly to Ladies First with Laura Brown hosted by InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown, who speaks to guests like Michelle Pfeiffer, Emily Ratajkowski, Cynthia Erivo, Naomi Watts, La La Anthony, Ellen Pompeo, Rep. Katie Porter, and more to discuss current events, politics, some fashion, and, most importantly, the major firsts in their lives.

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