“I’ve pretty much been having a really good, fun summer,” says Andrew Warren between sips of chilled rosé at Soho House’s rooftop pool deck. It’s a place that normally thrums with people earnestly using the word “storyteller,” but on this Wednesday afternoon before Labor Day, the mood is placid and so is Warren.
Warren, who is 24, has the sun-kissed, well-rested complexion of someone whose whole life is a really good, fun summer, which, if you take his Instagram as your guide, would seem to be a fair estimation. He wears a screaming graphic Kenzo t-shirt, box-fresh, snake-embroidered Gucci sneakers, artfully tattered denim and a bright cerulean dad hat from DSquared spelling out “ICON” in Muppet-yellow appliqué letters. Earlier in the summer, he had been photographed wearing an arm sling, a souvenir from an unfortunate turn involving a Flamingo pool float and Fort Pond in Montauk, which he blinged with Chanel brooches or overlaid with sequins. But on this day it is a comparatively tame tonal brace in medical supply navy.
We’ve been trying to meet for months, but Warren is something of a social butterfly, flitting between his parent’s Central Park West residence, where he’s currently living, and their Southhampton one. Instagram frequently locates him at the Surf Lodge, the nexus of Montauk’s reinvention from flea-bitten motel town to Hampton’s spillover pleasure coast, lolling around the waterfront patios (Warren has his comfort zone, and it involves chaises) and acting as the fulcrum in deftly arranged tableaux of his friends, a fluctuating roster of heirs and scions to the corridors of New York’s powerful and famous, or simply rich.
Warren and his friends are all, in some fashion, the progeny of the socially notable. A New York Times Styles item from last year found him palling around with Kyra Kennedy, Gaia Matisse and Barron Hilton, who are the millennial descendants of exactly who they sound like they are. For a stretch in June, Warren was vacationing in Mykonos and somehow absorbed Lindsay Lohan into his retinue. A charter member of this group, variously referred to as “the Rich Kids of Instagram” and “the Snap Pack,” is Tiffany Trump, the most reclusive adult member of the First Family.
Warren is the grandson of David Warren, a grand puba of 1970s-era New York garmentos who made his name and his money manufacturing frocks for Bloomingdale’s-tier society women. Warren’s father, Michael, originally from Long Island, works as a real estate investor. His mother, Marcy, grew up between Ohio and New Jersey before moving to New York, where she worked in the company her father founded, which the family sold in 1998.
The younger Warren has chosen to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps with Just Drew, his fledgling fashion line founded with a friend when he was an undergraduate at Syracuse in 2013. He launched the brand, then called Sam & Drew, mostly as a lark—a few sweatpants and T-shirts he made and sold at trunk shows. Eventually, a rift with the friend resulted in a parting of ways and the rechristening of the brand.
Today, it’s still a small-scale enterprise run out of his family’s office in the Garment District, sateen midi slip dresses and $400 faux-leopard fur dusters manufactured around the city. Its stockists include small boutiques like Real Housewife Kyle Richards’ bizarrely named Kyle by Alene Too, and Blue and Cream, an East Hampton outfitter with a location on the Bowery whose flashy, mid-level brands are simpatico with the junior socialite set.
To this point in his life, Warren has been recognized more for fulfilling the stereotypes assigned to children of privilege than for being the purveyor of a serious business, his Instagram reading like a field guide to the shibboleths of wealthy New York. It’s an image he has acknowledged, and one he’s intent on shedding. Over the last year, Warren has attempted to break away from being known for having marquee friends to being known in his own right, focusing on his label and toning down his splashy lifestyle, or at least broadcasts of his splashy lifestyle. His efforts thus far have returned mixed results.
Warren’s aspirations for Just Drew are at once ambitious and not. He’s less concerned with the artful possibilities of design or the rigor that the mainstream fashion calendar demands than he is with market potential. For example, the week before New York Fashion Week is usually an 11th-hour scramble of receiving collection samples and finalizing production logistics, but Warren barely planned a formal presentation. “This will be, like, my fifth official season,” he says. “Before, I had it as a pop-up, something I did in college. I did it with a friend, it was more fun. I’ve been more serious about it. I do events on my own time and, yeah, I’m not really into traditional.”
The way Warren discusses Just Drew also suggests he has a working understanding of what it would take to make the jump from internet curio to brand name. In citing designer influences, he name-checks not the usual nabobs of contemporary American fashion like Tom Ford or Marc Jacobs, but Jessica Simpson, whose mass-market brand is valued at more than $1 billion, and Philipp Plein, a newish, independently wealthy player partial to eye-gouging embellishment and who has mostly existed at the fringes, but now seems intent on muscling himself into the center.
Yet Warren is reluctant to capitalize on his social life. “When I went to see a marketing company they said I had more reality show offers than anyone they had ever seen—like, every production company has reached out to me, every network,” he tells me. “In the past I was like, ‘It’s not something I want to do, I want to be serious about my brand, I don’t want to go on a show without having a serious brand to promote. I’m not just going to be some stupid person who does nothing.’ I also wanted to graduate college on time. It was important to me. I mean, Kim Kardashian is obviously killing it, but she can’t say she graduated college.”
Warren studied public relations at Syracuse University and he speaks with the even-keeledness of someone who’s gotten bad press and knows it. An early lesson was an article in DuJour, which Warren tells me was sold to him as a fashion story but which he felt railroaded by, particularly the the “Rich Kids of Instagram” pejorative. Warren also takes issue with an item on Refinery29 earlier this year, titled “Andrew Warren Isn’t Just Tiffany Trump’s BFF—He’s a Sort-Of Designer.”
“I don’t think that was fair because, I mean, I’m there the entire way—I’m very directive on the sketches being made and exactly what I want, I pick the fabrics, I make sure the fit is how I want it,” he says. Warren doesn’t sketch but to be fair, neither does Raf Simons. Warren subscribes to the industry’s prevailing, deliberately vague nomenclature: “I would describe myself more as creative director.”
Warren is modest, relatively speaking, about everything, from the comfort of his upbringing to his family’s industry legacy to his first-degree connection to the White House via Tiffany Trump.
However reserved Warren is about his brand ambitions, he takes no such pains with his personal style. He favors items that skirt the line between maximalist and gaudy: aggressively distressed jeans, $500 Givenchy T-shirts that are meant to look like Russian prison tattoos, Louis Vuitton headbands that push back his hair, which he otherwise keeps in an early-Bieber sweep. On Instagram, his persona is likewise: always large groups, always exclusive locations, endless miles of step-and-repeats.
What is surprising is how out of sync this persona feels when actually talking with him. Warren speaks in a gentle pianissimo at all times. His shyness is not something one expects of someone who travels in roving entourages and who has been described by friends alternatively as the Kris Jenner and Blair Waldorf of his circle—Jenner for his acumen in deploying those closest to him to his brand ends; Waldorf, presumably, for being rich, attending private school in Manhattan and deploying those closest to him to his brand ends. In fact, he’s modest, relatively speaking, about everything, from the comfort of his upbringing to his family’s industry legacy to his first-degree connection to the White House via Tiffany Trump, whom he’s known since they were age three. "We’re family friends,” he explains to me succinctly, before recognizing some elaboration might be prudent. “With Marla. I don’t have any relationship with Donald.”
Warren has strived to remain politically non-committal, at least in public, often invoking the genteel notion of not discussing politics, unbothered by the possibility that not forming a political opinion is itself a luxury. Around the election last year, Warren broke his silence in a long, leave-Tiffany-alone post on Facebook, writing in part: “It used to be that people didn’t discuss their political views to avoid problems, and, while pushing people to vote is important, I think keeping who you’re voting for to yourself also is. With social media in the current generation, that is obviously very difficult.”
Over email, Warren tells me he finds it funny how he never cared about politics and how involved in them he now is, “involved” here being socially adjacent to the daughters of high-profile American political figures—which is to say, not, really. “Obviously with Kyra Kennedy’s family, they’ve gone through that a lot,” he tells me by way of polite understatement.
What sticks out in Warren’s comments is how they sound as though they are sent from the inside of an airtight room. Among all the hand-wringing about millennials, there’s a consensus that the generation is centered around democratized, internet-abetted social engagement. For his part, though, Warren references “the current generation” as if at a remove.
If Warren is a product of his generation, it’s the narrow subset that is leveraging the success and celebrity of their parents into nebulous careers of their own. Lately it feels like the children of celebrities have all matriculated together, thrown into the machine in a Hunger Games of pedigree and brand ambassadorships. Warren has internalized this idea completely. After introducing me to a friend of his, he emails me to note who their parents are, as if it is an essential footnote.
After New York Fashion Week in September, Warren invites me to join him at an event in the West Village for which he is “dressing a few of the girls,” in a restaurant inexplicably called While We Were Young, an Instagram set piece fantasia of marbled surfaces and neon wall art. The occasion turns out to be a book release party for a catalog compiled by the marketing firm Cogent called “Under the Influence,” containing a pick-and-mix buffet of millennial influencers, identified by a choice Instagram post, their handle and their follower count.
Warren seems slightly embarrassed by it all, despite having recently signed with NEXT Management as a social influencer himself. “I mean, I hate to refer to myself as that, but I guess it’s just like posting things,” he says. “I’ve constantly gotten questions and DMs like, ‘Where do you eat in the city?’ 'Where should I do my birthday in the city?’ 'What products do you use?’ 'Where do you shop?’ like those types of things. So I guess people do care, but I never really cared to answer, because I was living my life and it wasn’t something I thought about.”
Warren sits at a counter with his back to the party with Eleanor Lambert, a sometime-Teen Vogue contributor who is also the daughter of Diane Lane (I know this because Warren emails me later to tell me). They are with Alexandre Assouline, heir to the Assouline publishing family, who regards the proceedings with the kind of Gallic distaste that is the country’s most prized cultural export. Warren tells me he came with Peter Brant II, the enfant terrible and tabloid habitue son of Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour, who was so disinterested that he left immediately for Indochine, where Warren plans to meet him next.
Warren is exhausted. It’s the Monday after New York Fashion Week, and he’s been very busy, socially. He counts off a sampling: “Zadig and Voltaire, Laquan Smith afterparty with Cardi B, Philipp Plein, which was amazing. Philipp Plein is, like, one of my influences,” Warren reminds me. There are pictures of Warren, accompanied by Tiffany Trump, attending Plein’s show, a maximalist affair that also drew Paris Hilton and featured Dita Von Teese doing the thing people still call upon Dita Von Teese to do: pretending to bathe in a giant martini glass. “The next day we went to his house and he told us how he did it all,” Warren says. On Instagram, he had posted a picture of himself and Trump, kohl-eyed, sandwiching Plein. The first comment was an approving “#MAGA.”
Warren occupies a curious space in the American celebrity hierarchy. He’s not really famous and doesn’t operate like he is. Yet he is aware of the fascination his social station brings. One of the things I’m struck by is Warren’s understanding, or at least his perceived understanding, of the publicity-subject industrial complex. He acknowledges his youthful naïveté, all of two years ago, telling me, "I didn’t even know what off the record meant,” which is an odd thing to not know about for someone who studied public relations. “I think about what I put online and I’m like, 'Oh, god.’”
The Saturday after the influencer party, Warren and his cortege descend upon Megu in Chelsea, on the occasion of Danielle Naftali’s 24th birthday. Naftali is the daughter of Miki Naftali, founder of the Naftali Group, one of New York’s more powerful real estate developers, and accordingly, the Naftalis arranged for Bruno Mars, who was performing at Madison Square Garden that night, to join the party and serenade the birthday girl.
At the table with Warren is Natalie Jackson, an ebullient blonde in a pink latex bodycon dress, who is in a master’s degree program at Columbia and has aspirations to work for the United Nations. “I’m totally Elle Woods-ing it up right now,” she says. Warren, meanwhile, is fielding compliments for his outfit, a spangly, silver-sequined striped Laquan Smith suit, which gives him the air of a rococo Beetlejuice. “He just showed it last week and I had to have it,” he says.
At 11:30 p.m., decorations appear: buckets of pink rock candy and matching feather centerpieces. There is a contretemps involving balloons and fire codes, which is eventually finessed, because dozens of them in matching Barbie Corvette pink came out soon after. At some point one of those mobile photo booths with the lighted halos that makes Instagram-ready gifs arrives, along with its own operator, who looks like he wants to die.
Anyone in the immediate vicinity who is not part of the party is made to feel as such. A table of hold-outs nearby, who had long emptied their bottle of Champagne, are hanging on to their seats, if for no other reason than to see how long they can avoid being swallowed up by the soft power of a well-connected group of twentysomethings. This show of defiance annoys Jackson, who is sharing billing on the party, and she starts shouting “I will pay for all their dinners” in indeterminate directions. Brant shifts in his seat as though there is a camera pointed at him, which there isn’t, and announces to no one, “The last time I was here I was with Paris Hilton and it was great. It used to be called…something else.”
By the third play of “Look What You Made Me Do,” the party has swelled and annexes the bar and entryways. The Naftalis hired a Patrick McMullen photographer to photograph the party, not for Patrick McMullen but for their personal use. Warren poses mock-seductively against a curtain wall, his Laquan suit snapping in the flashbulb light.
Unlike most of his friends, who aren’t famous but behave as though they are, Warren behaves like he may be soon.
It is hard not to feel like these people are existing in a New York circa 2007, even though in 2007 these people would have been 14. It isn’t just being in Megu, the kind of pre-crash clubstaurant that still has an attendant hand out paper towels and individually wrapped breath mints outside the bathroom. Making a Gossip Girl analogy is obvious but also true: a bunch of wealthy white twentysomethings living in Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides, untouched by the banal cares of the rest of the city, and certainly, the rest of the country.
Warren, however, conducts himself differently. He is at all times engaged with several people but rarely uncomposed. He isn’t wailing nor falling over. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy social spectacle, which he very clearly does, but rather that he does so calmly, as though perpetually aware of outside perception. Unlike most of his friends, who aren’t famous but behave as though they are, Warren behaves like he may be soon, and is careful not to despoil his prospects. For the better part of the night, he carries around a Barney’s shopping bag holding an outfit change: something from Philipp Plein, which he eventually decides won’t be necessary.
It’s 2 a.m. and Bruno Mars has still not gone on. The crowd is getting restless. “His manager told me Bruno is drunk,” Warren informs me. “I was like, ‘How is that my problem?’”
People take turns drinking from bottles of Beau Joie Brut for a while longer before Warren decides to call it. He assembles a fallout crew, who trip up Megu’s mirrored staircase and onto the street, yowls of “Boom Boom Room” rising into the Chelsea air. After a few minutes of wrangling, Warren locates their Chevy Suburban Uber. Everyone struggles to pile in as they hold up traffic all the way down 16th Street.