As our pursuit of style continues, we catch up with London-based fashion guru and man-about-town Khabi Mirza, to talk influences and advice for mere mortals
While the male population seemingly switches unabated to sportswear and gaudy motors, Style for Miles continues to dig its Penny loafers in to bring you insight into what's good. Whether it's the car you drive or the clothes you're sporting when you exit, the world is watching.
One man who never puts a step wrong sartorially when he steps out is Kharbi Mirza. Following a 15-year career in fashion journalism he established fashion communications agency Fabric PR in 2010 in Shoreditch, London, so when it comes to threads, it's fair to say he's always on point.
SFM: What's your earliest style memory?
KM: On-screen heroes set the sartorial agenda in my younger years. Apart from that first Grease-inspired biker jacket aged six, my first big fashion fixation was over Don Johnson’s Miami Vice wardrobe. Those languid, unstructured tailoring silhouettes in palettes of super-soft pastels presented a vision of men’s tailoring which felt at once contemporary, glamorous and a world away from the stiff, biscuit-toned suits which dominated most British men’s wardrobes at the time.
SFM: Who are your style icons?
KM: Like that kids’ show Mr Ben from the ‘70’s I’m a self-confessed sartorial chameleon and have style icons for different looks. For amped-up sunshine tailoring it has to be Don Johnson’s pop-chic Vice
while Richard Gere's drapey texture-rich Armani styles in American Gigolo revealed softer, more tonal ingredients to the tailoring story. Elsewhere, we had Mickey Rourke killing it in oversized seersucker in Angel Heart and thrift-store tweed in Rumblefish. Over in Illinois Judd Nelson’s Breakfast Club regular John Bender was giving us a crystal ball glimpse into the plaids and denim uniform which would go on to define the ‘90’s grunge scene, while Nicholas Cage’s Sailor Ripley in Wild At Heart underlined how a snakeskin jacket really can be ‘a symbol of individuality and belief in personal freedom’, way before Joe Exotic was on the scene.
But the all-time Earl of sartorial verve is the late great Steve McQueen. From the beat-up Americana of The Great Escape and the Dougie Hayward suits immortalised in the Thomas Crown Affair, McQueen cut a dash in every single movie he touched. The best part though was he looked just as hot off-screen, and the styles he popularised in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s remain anchor points for the modern rake’s wardrobe. Barbour International motorcycle jacket – tick; Baracuta G-9 Harrington – tick; two-buttoned tweed tailoring – tick; chunky masculine knits – tick; slim-fit cut-off chinos – tick; suede chukka boots – tick; Persol bins – tick.
Go ahead, try find a shot of McQueen looking anything other than fire.
SFM: What's your definition of style?
KM: It’s so arbitrary, but for me it’s the ability to take stylistic gambles while looking utterly at ease in the clothes you’re wearing. Confidence and a degree of swagger are essential but so is the ability to skilfully combine unlikely colour combinations and tonal texture variations.
It’s also by no means enough to nail a single look. Where’s the fun in adopting a single style personality? I say take tailoring, preppy casuals, vintage military, US workwear and combine until you create a look that sums up the equal parts of your own personal journey. Only then young Grasshopper will you be truly style enlightened.
SFM: How much can you tell about a person by the way they dress?
In an era where the combined influence of multimedia, social networking, online profiles and old-fashioned real-life social engagement dictate our lives more and more each day, the way we present ourselves stylistically is more immediate and meaningful than ever before.
Whether we like it or not, we’re all striving –
consciously or otherwise – to attach ourselves to a group, club or tribe. Think that logo from some Shibuya streetwear brand sets you apart from the Supreme-clad Soho masses? Think again.
Most fellas simply want to pass the pub test by investing in brands and looks which help them feel accepted by their peers and attractive to potential romantic conquests, without drawing unwelcome criticism by taking style risks. My advice? Throw away the Pub Test Rulebook. Better still, burn it alongside your Superdry polo shirt and Diesel jeans.
SFM: What's the style mistake men make?
KM: Believing that buying into brands automatically provides a green-card to the United States of Style.
SFM: What are your top five tips for looking stylish?
KM: 1. Invest in footwear for specific looks and seasons, ie a pair of sneakers for sport-casuals; a pair of Vibram-soled work-boots for denim-led Americana; a pair of bench-made classics for tailoring; and don’t be afraid of suede.
3. Denim on denim. Forget Spears & Timberlake – think Redford & Newman. And, if you’re still concerned about being overtly disco-cowboy, soften with a vintage tweed jacket and suede Chelsea boots.
4. Take chances with colour, texture and layering.
5. Invest in as many quality sunglasses as budget and lifespan will allow.
Based in the heart of London’s Shoreditch, Fabric PR’s passion is creating unique and engaging conversations between brands and their target markets.
The agency counts over 20 clients including Burlington, Eastpak, Lee Jeans, Scotch & Soda, and Umbro, amongst others.
Follow Khabi’s Instagram outfit adventures via @khabism