Style Counsel: Derrick Braziel


Occupation: Cofounder, MORTAR
His style: Locally sourced and  tailor-made

Derrick Braziel

Photograph by Annette Navarro

MORTAR offers 10-week courses aimed at helping urban, nontraditional entrepreneurs launch or build businesses. What kind of sartorial advice do you give your students?
Most of our students come from poverty. We don’t tell them there’s anything wrong with that. But our world operates according to middle-class norms. In order to be successful, you have to understand that those norms exist and play to them. We also talk about e-mail addresses and social media. We call it “getting to know yourself.” You have to assess how you look, how you dress, how you present yourself to the public. We reinforce that every single week, but not in a way that’s judgmental or condescending.

You live and work in OTR. Do you shop OTR too?
I try my hardest to support local when I can. My shoes and socks are from Goods. I bought my hat at the Hansa Guild in Clifton. Ninety percent of my tattoos have been done on Main Street. My glasses are from Frameri. I have an addiction to Frameri. I think I have five pairs from them.

MORTAR also operates Brick, a retail space that vendors can use for pop-up shops. Any favorite finds?
I bought a mud cloth shawl from Artistic Creations by PJ. She also sells beautiful jewelry. We’ve got several clothing retailers in our classes, like Ohio Against the World and BlackOwned. I love to wear their clothes because I want to support them.

Where do you go for staple pieces?
I get all my jeans at Old Navy because they’re made for the modern man, not for super skinny people. Then I always take them to Kim Dao, the seamstress on Court Street, for hemming and tapering. I have a very specific way of dressing and she knows what I like—like a restaurant knows what a regular customer likes.

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