Terrance "Tek100" Elmore, fashion stylist and now author, is aiming to curb stereotypes and revolutionize Black men's style with his new e-book Style Essentials: A Style Guide For Men. The Atlanta native hopes to encourage more men to step outside of the norm by sharing tips on how to build a new wardrobe at an affordable price. We caught up with stylish Elmore to discuss why Black men need to take charge of their appearance, personal style, culture, and more.
How do you define your personal style?
I would say my personal style represents black excellence to the fullest, but because of my upbringing, I must always include a bit of street also. That's the foundation. In my mind, it's a very complex style because I know in the future I will do even more looks that I haven't even debuted yet. It's like a blend, and I'm influenced by styles from many time periods, marketing ads, and movies that show characters that have undeniable style with a touch of edge.
When did you realize that your career choice could make an impact on our culture?
I realized that my career choice in fashion would make an impact on culture in the year 2014 when Edgewood Ave had the city of Atlanta on lock as far as the clubs, celebrities, and the culture that ultimately influenced the world. At this time, Edgewood was like Studio 54. If you weren't on Edgewood, you weren't anywhere. I quickly became the face of it. I was completely caught off guard by how powerful my style was. It left people captivated, completely speechless and I hadn't even said a word. My style spoke for me. I grew up in an old school environment, I have an old soul, grew up around older men, so unlike most people, I don't find validation in social media. I instead use the clubs and events as testers to see the reactions I get from people to determine if the look was something I should then post or use as a look in my next shoot. I've gone on to do videos and be booked for modeling gigs thereafter but found more appreciation in conceptualizing, creative direction, and styling men since then.
Why is it important for Black men to prioritize their image?
It's important for Black men to prioritize their image because we deal with enough strikes, stereotypes, and judgment against us. Why not separate yourself from that with a tailored, more approachable, and modern look that exposes poise, confidence, and power before you even open your mouth? You know back in the 1950's and 1960's was when the most history was made that empowered our people. It wasn't uncommon to see us dressed in slacks, three-piece suits, hats, and dress shoes to handle business. Even during the Civil Rights movement and during the Black Panther era, we made a statement that we are truly here to protect and uplift our people. I read a quote that says "How you dress is how you will be addressed," and that could never be more true. As Black men who are striving every day to protect and provide for our families and to not be another statistic, the life we live and lead needs to be taken seriously. And I wouldn't expect anyone else to treat me as otherwise. This is serious.
What advice do you give to future creatives who are looking to begin their career?
Spend time with yourself, find out what creative gifts God gave you, and master that. Get a mentor, work as an apprentice, get a job/career in that area, study, and apply. Your gift will make room for you and the money will follow.
Why was this the perfect time for you to release your new E-Book STYLE ESSENTIALS?
I can feel in our culture the awakening of the modern black man who may have been profiled or stereotyped in the past but is now more refined, has a greater interest in his image, his mindset, maybe owns some property, is interested in financial literacy and protecting his legacy. Unfortunately, however, there are not enough guides that share ways to transition into dressing more modern, and sometimes guys might be intimidated because changing your style is new so they may not know where or how to start. It really takes time to build an entire look and new wardrobe and starting with basics is key. So I felt I would shed some light on the best way to get started, just so my brothers have something to use as a reference.
What do you hope Black men walk away with after reading your new book?
I want Black men to see that you don't have to look as worse as they think you are, you don't have to look as average as the next man, you can instead desire to look better than everybody, and that's what makes it style. Any day could be your last day, so stepping outside looking your best, and being your best self should be a priority. I also want them to walk away with a new perspective on evolving into the man they want to become and ultimately the confidence to make it a lifestyle. Take life seriously and life will take you seriously.
Photo Credit: FosterLew