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Six Style Disruptors Representing Class, Grace and Breaking Down Barriers

Style is more than what you wear. Style is a particular way of expressing yourself in other ways outside of just fashion. It is the way you carry and present yourself. Style is your vibe. Style isn't a trend, it's a timeless self-expression that may evolve as you continue to grow and be exposed to different ways of life. For Black men, style continues to set us apart and assists us stand out above the rest. Some may call it swagger, some may call it steelo, in the end, the Black man's style is unforgettable and cannot be duplicated. The six men featured on our 2021 Style Disruptor list represent class, grace, and are breaking down barriers while doing so.

Andre L. Perry - Photographer

How do you define your personal style?

I define my style as carefree yet aware and slightly stuck in the 90s.

When did you realize that your career choice could make an impact on culture?

My career choice and the lane of photography I specifically chose was sought after simply because I wanted to show black people in a different light, living their best, carefree lives in scenarios you typically don’t see them in.

Why is it important for Black men to prioritize their image?

To be honest, I don't think it should be a priority. Being aware is one thing, but the priority should be focused on showing up as one's authentic self with confidence and intention. Everything else comes secondary.

What advice do you give to future creatives who are looking to begin their career?

If you truly believe in your craft, keep going NO MATTER WHAT.

Ne'Andre Broussard - Founder of black Menswear

How do you define your personal style?

My personal style would be defined as Business Plus. I say that to iterate that most of my suits I could wear to a business meeting, plus date night, happy hour, a concert, etc. I love suits. When did you realize that your career choice could make an impact on culture?

When I started Black Menswear, my goal was to impact the culture. I'm a wholesaler for a life insurance company by day, which also allows me to change my community by educating on the living benefits of life insurance. There aren't many faces that look like mine in my industry or my role, so taking advantage of my leadership opportunities impacts the culture in itself. Then launching a platform that focuses on the positivity within our community through adequate representation was a game-changer. I don't do any of it for me, though. It's all about the impact. Why is it important for Black men to prioritize their image?

Enclothed cognition is a real thing! It's the concept that the clothes you wear affect your mental process, your cognitive process. Its seeps into your performance, your attitude, your outcomes. Deion Sanders, Coach Prime, once said, "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good." Simply put, when we take pride in our image, it directly influences our outputs. What I'm NOT saying is that to be successful, you must wear a suit. But when you put on a suit versus when you put on gym clothes, you will perform to different levels. Think about how good you feel when you get out of the barber's chair. That feeling is a direct byproduct of focusing on your image. What advice do you give to future creatives who are looking to begin their career?

First, I advise you to find a way to turn your passion into profit. When you focus on what you love, it's no longer work; it's your cause. Your mission. As a creative, you can control what you put into the universe. When you work within your passion, you're naturally more dedicated to perfecting your craft, which should lead you to make more profit. It would be best if you also considered taking roles that can add to your repertoire. Unless you absolutely have to, I'd caution against taking a job that has nothing to do with your long-term goals. That's just time away from your development. Second, I encourage you to find a mentor. A mentor is not someone who just gives, and you take. A mentor is someone you reach out to and offer yourself as a support mechanism. A mentorship should seem more like a partnership for your personal development. Third, humility takes you far. Never feel that you know everything. Even the world's most educated people are consistently learning—Doctors and lawyers "practice" for a reason. If you're not trying to study, you will become extinct. Studying comes in different ways; make sure you don't overlook its importance long term.

Sherman & Preston - Founders of Sherman & Preston

How do you define your personal style?

Personal style is constantly evolving with maturity and experience. As you discover who you are and what you enjoy, you start to have a better understanding of how to style your lifestyle. At the present moment, our personal style is rooted in contemporary elements based on earth tone color schemes.

When did you realize that your career choice could make an impact on our culture?

There was a time period in our culture when getting dressed and stepping out represented more than just looking good. Your appearance represented yourself, your family and your community. It was about having pride in your identity. Somehow, we believe that was lost over time. With us focusing on fashion, our ultimate goal was to recreate that ideology. More than focusing on consumption, we try to focus on presentation and representation. One of the most powerful tools we have is our imagery so using that to tell our story is of extreme importance.

Why is it important for Black men to prioritize their image?

The identity of the Black man is constantly under attack and one of those forms of attack is through imagery. It is time that the majority focuses on priding themselves on reclaiming that imagery. Whatever one’s personal style is, understand that your appearance is the first form of communication with the outside world. Pride yourself on that. The clothes do not make the man but it is a representation.

What advice do you give to future creatives who are looking to begin their career?

Focus on your legacy for the things you do today will affect tomorrow’s outcome.

Archie Clay III AND tAJH cRUTCH - Co-FounderS of WEAR BRIMS

(Left to Right) Tajh Crutch and Archie Clay III

How do you define your style?

AC: I define my style as simple but quality. I'm really big on finding really dope pieces that align. Of course, my style is always centered around either brim, baseball cap, or a fedora.

TC: I will tell them to be comfortable being uncomfortable. [W]hen you're uncomfortable in an uncomfortable situation it speaks volumes. [I]f you understand your product and read on it, and you can articulate those words to grasp the ear of maybe a buyer or an investor or something like that, your company can grow so fast based on people believing in what you're doing.

When did you realize that your career choice could make an impact on culture?

AC: I think that when we started the company, I realized that dope products and dope hats weren't aligned to the culture when we first started. I think that we changed the narrative around fedoras, and gave them a more urban perspective and narrative.

TC: I realized that maybe in year three of Wear Brims, how people responded to me. How people reached out to me, inspired by me, taking that leap with Archie to create my own company. That's when I realized that what we were doing is impacting our culture.

Why is it important for Black men to prioritize their image?

AC: I think that we have to take pride in ourselves, our bodies and getting better. I think getting better means mental, physical, emotional, and your appearance. Your appearance matters.

TC: I define my style as unique. I feel like I'm a risk-taker when it comes to fashion. You can't fit me in a box when it comes to style. One day I can have a hoodie on, sweats and nice sneakers, and the next day I have a suit on. So I dibble and dabble in-between.

What advice do you give to future creatives who are looking to begin their career?

AC: Your mindset has to change, first and foremost, before you create any type of business. If your mindset does not change, you will not accomplish your true destiny of true purpose. Once you change your mindset, then you can start down that journey of creating what you want to create.

TC: I feel like it's very important because we're already looked at as thugs and hood looms from society, the world, and other cultures. [W]e shouldn't have to but it's important because at the same time we carry ourselves with respect and dignity just like anybody else. Our look is unique, we changed the culture when it comes to style and being ourselves and being different. We changed everything. Everything about us glows.

Check out the Style Issue.


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