Fashion EXchange: Young, Black, Stylish

When I think about fashion, I think about the many definitions that we seem to have for it. For some, fashion is about keeping up with the trends and some how making it your own. For others, fashion is so much more than the latest trends. For those “others,” fashion is a reflection of what is going on in their heads, another extension of oneself. When I think about what is stylish and fashionable, my first thought is that the person’s clothing has to tell me something about them. I think the pieces I like to wear (when I make the effort, which is changing Back to the Basics aka cute at all times) demonstrates that. I like for my pieces to have a story. I also like for my pieces to be glamorous, despite my shy disposition, I like standing out.


I have known dude for a long time. We attend different schools now. I am sure that he has matured but when I send him text messages and he replies with, “What’s up hoodrat?” I feel like Tristen is still the same. If there were one thing that I can say has drastically changed, I would say it his style. I feel like where he is now, and I enjoy watching the change, is a clear reflection of who he is, which is unique. I had a chance to ask him a few questions and I have to admit that I walked a way feeling a little enlightened. I find that hilarious because I remember being one of his friends, who use to poke fun at him for how he dressed. Well, not so much how he dressed, really just the skinny jeans. We did not know how he found those back then. However look at it now, you have rap duos stepping out in skinny jeans. Tristen was and remains to be, ahead of his time. This is my attempt to call out the rest of the fellas and tell you that maybe this kid is on to something!

The biggest point that I feel he made was that, there was a time when black men were more experimental with their clothing and didn’t have to deal with their sexuality being called out. Where did that go? So, this is me doing my community service. Fellas it is ok to like fashion. It is REALLY ok to be different. At the end of the day just make sure that in every thing that you do, it is a clear reflection of you. So here is the interview with the most stylish, straightest black guy I know.

Describe your style. What does it say about you?

- It's getting really hard to articulate these days, but I'd say it's something along the lines of 'downtown coffee shop minimalism.' I've never actually thought about how I might be perceived by a random onlooker, but I hope 'youthful' + 'fun' are two words that might come to mind.

I have always liked your style. Do you feel like it has changed over the years? How so?

- I guess this is where I say thanx, huh! I feel like I've come a long way in a short amount of time. The whole idea of fashion + style didn't concern me until the latter years of high school. It was very experimental, hit and miss, not having a clue but committing to an idea regardless. College has allowed me to filter and condense all my influences into something tangible and coherent. I also think having a working knowledge of fashion, past + present, has helped in my development, it's hard to make sense out of clothing when you don't bother to do your h/w.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

- I have a genre of tee's that I professionally nicknamed my 'ride or die' t-shirts, which I'm really quite fond of. They're super thin on the verge of see-thru, solid colored tees, w/ big stretched neck openings, and they fit slightly over-sized. They're usually made from a brushed pima cotton, or cashmere blends. I call them my ride or die t-shirts because you can have a filthy dirt-nasty night out on the town, crawl home drunk, ball it up, throw it in the corner, then wake up the next morning, put it back on, throw a jacket over it, and be out the door. I kinda live for them.

Where do you shop?

- I'm pretty much an exclusive online shopper w/the exception of a few H&M pit stops throughout the year. I'm a big fan of a site called, it's a members only type deal, so it took a while for me to get ushered in, but it's been magic ever since. It's potentially just like attending a designer sample sale, except via the inter-webs. Each day they offer up a new collections by high ranking contemporary designers. It's the only place to get the garments that you physically saw on last season's runways, for a somewhat reasonable price. Honorable mentions go out to and because their co-op range is pretty killer.....and ebay. ebay is dope.

Do you think there is a stigma that comes with being fashionable as a guy? Why or why not?

- Of course. Naturally you are going to encounter those that think your world is automatically full of candy cane, gum drops and licorice sticks and they'll completely strip + discredit you of all masculinity, but on occasion you'll have those who commend your efforts. It get's old, and then you get over it. At the end of the day, you develop a pretty flame resistant air of self confidence. There is always a positive aspect.

What do you think about urban fashion?

- I think urban fashion means a lot of things to a lot of different people. If we're talking eclectic city dwelling street wear, then I'm all for it, but I don't care so much for hip-hop inspired urban wear.

Do you think there is a belief that black guys should dress a certain way? Why or why not?

- Over the past few decades I think black culture has really narrowed the scope of what is acceptable for a modern day black male in terms of fashion. As a result, there is limited amount of individualism, because of the fear of being ridiculed. If you take a look back at black artist who were at the forefront of the soul/rhythm and blues movement like the Commodores, Earth Wind and Fire, The Isley Brothers, and who can forget bead laden Rick James, they all approached fashion from such an uninhibited place, and it's kind of sad to see that we've lost that and even frown upon it today.

Do you think that will change one day and when?

- Probably not, but I do believe that a descent amount of acceptance is obtainable.I think when people like Kanye and Jay-Z, who hold credibility within the black community, vocally speak about their admiration and respect for fashion, it definitely changes minds and opinions.

Why are you so cool?

- Every now and then, some random person on campus will walk up to me, and say something about how they've been admiring my style throughout the years, and it wrecks my brain each and every time. It's crazy to think that at a university where I am one blob out 55,000, I've somehow found a way to carve out an niche of my own, without even being consciously aware. The best part is when it's some husky gangsta' looking mofo that pays me a compliment.....has to be the closest I've ever come to feeling cool.

What does you wardrobe consist of?

- Fairly simple non-fussy stuff, all in black, white, cream, navy and grey, loads of grey. Usually just lots of loose layered tees w/out graphics, tailored trousers, blue blazers, above the knee shorts, knitted cardigans, and a variety of boots.

What is your most unique piece?

- I have this sickly amazing harness for my keys which goes up my back and across my torso. it's the perfect combination of both form and function.

What do you like to see girls wear?

- Nothing in particular, but it helps if its quietly interesting.

What is your favorite style for girls?

- I tend to like the more androgynous stuff. the whole grungy, 'I don't know if she took a shower this week', but she still looks amazingly put together kind of thing.

Who are your favorite designers ?

- Proenza Schouler....for no other reason than the fact that they just make cool shit. They're a womens wear label but I always find myself staring at their stuff wondering how I can capture the essence of their clothing with menswear pieces. I'm also a big fan of Kris Van Assche, Trussardi 1911, Marni, and 3.1 Phillip Lim

What is one piece that every guy should have? Jacket, shoes what?

- I've always kinda believed that the sole initial purpose of clothing was to shield us from the elements, and anything above and after that is just fair game. Hence, I believe every guy should carry a sense of humor and a little bit of self assurance in their front pocket.

What influences your style?

- hands down the best place for inspiration. There is something impeccably appealing about seeing creative people in their own personal spaces, and allowing them the time to verbally articulate their own aesthetics. I waste hours of valuable pro-active time on that site. No bueno.

This is a really great fashion blog that I came across for guys!!
The Urban Gent


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