Yahdon Israel 1
February 20th, 2015
On Developing Style in Bed-Stuy
“The 90s and early 00s were all about ‘flossing’ and ‘stunting’. It was about showing of what you had… My brother, who’s twelve years older than me, was the one who got me into name brand clothes when I was kid: the Nauticas, the Tommys, the Polos, the Timberlands, etc.
At the same time, my mother taught me about quality. Even though we were poor, she was against looking that way. She made all of my clothes until I was 10 years old. Every other week she would head downtown to the garment district and flip through fabrics, looking for the most durable cloth she could find… It’s fair to say that I was having “bespoke” clothes made for me before I even knew the word. Unfortunately most of them were dashikis and tunics with matching harem pants, so I was teased a lot.”
“Eventually I got old enough to sneak my older brother’s clothes out of his closet and wear them to school. Everyone knew I was wearing my brother’s clothes; they were way too big for me, even by baggy standards. I looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. At least I was wearing the right brand.
[In our neighborhood] often times the people who complimented your style in the morning were also planning to rob you at night. For that reason my brother always preached The Frank Lucas effect: ‘The loudest one in the room is the weakest’. Although he wore all the brands that were in style, you’d never know… He taught me the value of understated luxury and avoiding flashy labels.”
“I would describe my personal style the way Henry James describes literature: ‘It took a great deal of history to produce a little of it.’
There were many years of missteps and minimum payments that went into the few things I have now… Now it’s about quality and longevity.”