When we found out that Queer Eye’s fashion expert Tan France had a connection to Disney that just may have sparked his love of style, we knew we had to learn everything! Tan—who is as lovely as he seems on TV—chatted with us about how he fell in love with fashion, what Disney style means to him, and even compared the iconic Queer Eye Fab 5 to Disney’s Fab 5. Needless to say, we’re even more obsessed than we were, and can’t wait for season two. I’m so excited to chat with you! I’m a huge fan of the show.
I am so glad you reached out!
Can you tell us this great bit of information I found out about you, and how you got into fashion?
So, my first real exposure to the inner-workings of the fashion industry was when I was probably about seven or eight years old. My granddad founded a manufacturing company in Northern England—a place called Bury—that manufactured denim, and one of the brands they created denim for was Disney. So when I was young, I’d go visit the factory to hangout with my granddad, and was always so fascinated by what he did, and the machines they used. The fact that you could take a piece of fabric, and turn it into a jacket or a pair of jeans was so fascinating and incredible to me at that age. So as I got older, I realized that I might want to do something more in this industry. I went to college for fashion, and after graduating, got a job in Operations at Zara, learning the ins and outs so I could one day start my own clothing brand. Being exposed to Disney style and learning how to sew at such an early age, really influenced my career in fashion.
So you were close to Disney style at an early age; what role do you see Disney playing in the fashion industry today?
I think Disney plays a really important part in fashion. Teens and pre-teens are in the phase where they’re really trying to find their personal style and sort of navigate that around what they like. When I was little and went to a store—obviously with the help of my mom—I’d gravitate towards the characters I loved on screen. As far as what I remember, growing up, I didn’t see that there were really many options, there were just clothes with Disney characters on them, and I can’t think of anything else I truly wanted to wear. So for kids starting to experiment with style, Disney plays a huge role.
I remember distinctly that my brother used to wear things with Mickey Mouse—probably from my granddad’s factory—but I was always obsessed with my denim jacket that had Minnie on the back. That was sort of my way, in the 1980s, of expressing myself and setting myself apart. I didn’t really know I was doing that at the time of course, but looking back, that’s something that made me unique.
Well, speaking of Mickey, Disney fans love mixing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt into their everyday wardrobe to show off their Disney style. Do you think a Mickey tee is classic and would you recommend it folks that you’re styling?
Yes, of course! It’s a great way to show personality and brings out a playful side in your wardrobe! Like if I wore a white Mickey T-shirt with a tux I was wearing to a red carpet event, that is a way of making two worlds collide in a perfect and fashionable way. We love that on QE you’re teaching people that fashion builds self-confidence and that when you look good, you feel good, too. Would you say that that is what it really means to be fashion forward?
I think being fashion forward is stepping out of your comfort zone with just even a single piece—an accessory, footwear, a dress—something that shows your style but is just a bit outside of your comfort zone. My style is relatively classic, but I like mixing in a few things that make my look a bit more interesting. For example, I love wearing sneakers with something a bit more formal, and I never did that before. That’s helped me move my style forward completely. So now I’ll wear a track suit bottom with a blazer or button up shirt. So to me, being fashion forward is stepping outside of your comfort zone without changing your personal style completely.
How do you think you can be fashion forward as Disney fan?
If you do have a playful side—like my generation of fans who grew up on Disney—incorporating Disney into your look instantly makes it it less conservative … As I mentioned, I was rocking Minnie on my denim jacket and had no idea that was not typical for a boy. So being fashion forward as a Disney fan is again, stepping outside of your comfort zone a bit and trying something new in your everyday wardrobe or for the Parks.
Ok, well next time you’re at Disneyland, we definitely want to know what you’re wearing.
You know what’s crazy? I’ve literally never been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. I’ve been talking about going for so long but have never been! (Editor’s Note: This has since changed and because of this interview! Visit Tan’s Instagram for photos from his trip.)Ok, so it’s actually kind of funny … and I’m not sure if you know this already. At Disney, we call Mickey Mouse and his friends Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto the Fab 5.
Oh my, I had no idea! That’s incredible.
So which of Disney’s Fab 5 do you think you are most like?
OMG let me give you my opinion of all of them! Ok I am Goofy, I always look Goofy. Bobby would be Donald Duck—for sure, Jonathan would obviously be Minnie, Antoni would Pluto because he’s obsessed with dogs, and Karamo would be Mickey!
That is so perfect.
I know those boys inside and out—we’ve become the closest of friends—and I know those characters so well. Seriously, we are all so close and that’s what makes the show work so well.
Well, this was so fun! Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Tan.
Oh, it was so exciting to hear from you. I absolutely loved this! Thanks so much!
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.