The day starts with sun in the forecast. I began my trip to interview Dave , better known as Styles by Dave. He asked me to meet him at a Men’s Store owned by his brother, Erick Knowles. It was located on the south side of Chicago and represented formal wear at its best.
I arrive after calling first and Dave met me outside. His ensemble consisted of black tuxedo pants, a formal suit jacket with floral embellished fabric, a black button up and a matching bow-tie. A perfect setting for fashion. Not to chic, not too boring. He topped it off with a straw hat that included a ribbon accent. We set up in store to be around the atmosphere a little bit better to begin the interview.
Dave begins by explaining his years experience in fashion. He ventured into styling about 10 years ago. He loved fashion and truly believes , “when you look good, you feel good”. His friends would ask him to place outfits together for proms, dates, and day to day events. However, it was his sister who encouraged him to style professionally in order to make a living. He would later specialize in formal wear for men.
When asked about what he enjoys, he explained that he gets excited when those he styles get excited. To see their face light up and be a part of that moment with them is what he looks forward to. His favorites are weddings. With weddings the projects are more personal. The stylist has the responsibility of making sure the bridal party sets the tone of the wedding. He currently has 3 weddings scheduled and has completed 13 proms this season.
To be great, one must know their strengths and weaknesses. He admits to having struggled with styling women in the past. Women have more variations in their body structure explains Dave. So much so, that he chooses to focus only on the style of a man. Don’t be upset ladies, you never know what the future holds.
Designing on any level is an art form. It is more than just simply placing clothes on a hanger. Most stylist like to get a feel for who their client is as a person and what message they will like to communicate to their audience. In addition, most stylist choose this passion full-time, making them entrepreneurs. While speaking with Dave, he believes that entrepreneurship is very hard and at times disappointing. He still prefers it over working a “9-5”. It involves nurturing his passion and teaching about formal wear. He is dedicated to working for himself and creating his own goals.
You can immediately tell that style and community is very important to Dave. His face lit up when giving details about his experiences and his adventures mentoring. He discusses the many obstacles one has growing up and living in a city that is viewed as dangerous and sometimes is very much so. However, he is not one to sit back and not take action. He volunteers his time to speak to and encourage the youth that he encounters daily. His goals, of course like many of us, are to reach success globally but he states that as long as he is doing what he loves and helping others in his community that he’s satisfied.
Dave’s style and ideas are in a league of their own. He draws his inspiration from different industries spread over decades of icons. He even describes his closet as being a Rubix cube of clothes. He mentions being inspired by Marcus Garvey, Steve Jobs, his mother, and Louis Farrakhan. Dave also pulls from designers from films like Harlem Nights (Joe Tompkins) and Black Panther ( Roth E. Carter). Even though he hasn’t had university training in fashion, he embraces the path that he is taking and is grateful for his victories.
If you are ever in the Chicagoland Area, look up Styles By Dave (@stylesbydave). He focuses on fashion, his community, and lifestyle.
written by: Coffe’ Iman
photocred: Coffe’ Iman