HomeFashion & BeautyGo-Getter: Rashan Michel Changes Professional Sports One Suit At A Time Ms. Bels Thursday, June 12, 2014 Fashion & Beauty, Feature, Runway Xclusive, The Vault When it comes to athletes looking dapper in the latest suit trends, you may want to pay homage to Rashan Michel. The 33-year old is known as the go-to guy for several high-profile athlete’s in the NBA and NFL. Michel’s love for suits has always been prevalent in his life. Since his early years in Birmingham, Alabama, Michel’s style has always attracted attention from those around him. But it was while serving as a NBA referee, athletes became complimentary of his professional off-court attire. For starters, Rashan Michel’s first big client was with former linebacker from the New York Jets, Victor Hobson. After exiting his job as referee, Michel grew his clientele by becoming a full-time entrepreneur. Michel moved back to his hometown and opened up Rashan Michel Custom Clothier. The success of his custom clothing business has garnered him hundreds of NBA and NFL clients. Some of his clients includes Quentin Richardson (New York Knicks), Shandon Anderson (Miami Heat), Carlos Dansby (Arizona Cardinals), and Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks). In addition to making professional athletes look good, Michel also uses his talents as a way to give back to the community. One of his upcoming initiatives will select one Birmingham area high school and present each graduating male student with a custom-made suit. STACKS Magazine recently spoke with Rashan Michel to learn more about what fuels his passion for fashion, the leagues “best dressed” players, European versus American trends, and more. Read what he had to say below: Tell us about your background and motivated you to enter the fashion business. In 2001, I refereed in the national basketball association and I left the national basketball association and couldn’t find a job. When I left that job, I had a guy in Chicago who was making my clothes at that point and time. He goes, “Hey man you’re a pretty stylish guy you have a good fashion eye. Why don’t you start trying to sell clothes for me?” I start working for him for about a month or two. Then I went to Canada and studied under a master tailor for about six months and then we’ve been in business now for twelve years. Were you into suits and fashion as a child? Yes. I grew up in the projects. Me and my best friend went to the consignment stores, back then they called it a thrift store, and get up some pieces. I wore a shirt and tie every single day in high school and college. So you know I’ve always had that eye. Then once I got into the league, I had the revenue and the dollars for real clothes. I can tell you one good thing about Birmingham, that the paternity life is a huge thing in Alabama, in Birmingham Alabama State and The Gump [Montgomery, AL]. So in Birmingham if everyone has these small paternities all the guys trying to dress up like Kappa’s, couple people trying to be like Alpha’s, and couple people trying to be like Omega. So in high school you have like 4 or 5 paternities and so you already have an idea while you’re in high school. When you get to college, most people come to college to pledge then graduate. How did you obtain your first client/athlete? Well, I obtained my first big client by accident and a little by friendship. A good friend of mine was dating a guy in the NBA at the time she introduced me to Q [Quentin Richardson] and Brandy. And at that time, I was already doing some stuff with Joe Johnson. Brandy and Q were my first big client you know. It was like a significant order of fifty thousand dollar orders and they were fighting over who was going to pay for the check. So I kind of got a big name when I got with Q and Brandy and helped Joe a few plus years while he was here with the Hawks. What is it about suits that fascinates you? I think being a clothing guy for all my years, I’ve always been a preppy guy. I’ve always thought that there was always a blue jean guy, a polo shirt guy, etc. I thought it always took a distinguish gentlemen to wear clothes. I think clothes always speak for you clothes are international. They speak for you even when people don’t speak for themselves. People know what’s in clothes. People know what’s behind the fabric. Even today, people can sit in their home read a magazine or watch television and they know everything about clothing even if they can’t afford it. You really have to open up your mouth. If you have the best clothing, people will tell you they see something about you that’s not even correct. They are going to say something positive about you no matter what. In sports, why do you think athletes began to pay more attention to what they wore off the court? I think it goes back to the growth. I was in the league back in 1996 and guys were wearing clothes then. I think it’s the whole Michael Jordan area. I think Michael Jordan made clothes popular. I think Michael made clothes especially for a younger generation. He was two-folded. I maybe a ball player, but I’m a professional. I think that everyone thought it was cool to be professional. Overall, corporate America was not just going to allow these athletes to wear anything and support their playing. Who are some of the best dressed athletes? I got a couple clients. One of my guys, he’s a smaller guy. He’s a very solid guy named Earl Bennet. He plays for the Chicago Bears. He is a very stylish guy. E.J. Emanuel, my guy that came out last year, is a quarterback for Buffalo [Bills]. LeBron [James] takes notes on the clothes he wears. Carmelo [Anthony] and D. Wade, I think all the major superstars know that the cameras are on, so you realize that you have to be stylish. You have to be way ahead of the fashion curve because the pictures are coming rain, sleet, or snow. I think one of the best dress guys is Chris Bosh. He is not as popular as everyone else, but he is a very well dressed guy. How does Americans differ from European’s sense of style? I think one thing about it we’re always trying to push the edge. You have to realize in Europe they have a very clean cut…a clean look. White shirts, clean shoes, black suits, skinny ties, itty bitty clothes, etc. One of those reasons is those guys over there are wearing $3,000 to $4,000 suits and those guys are wearing their suit every single day. Guys here don’t spend that much on suits. Well, my clients do. When you start seeing clothes going back to that level where they spend $2,000 or $3,000 a suit, they are starting to wear their clothes a little bit more than they use to. But over there in Europe those guys are spending $20,000 to $30,000 a year on clothes. They appreciate their clothes. They take care of their clothes. Not just coming in the house and throwing them on the floor, they’re actually hanging them up and only dry cleaning them two times a year. How can men accessorize a suit? Well, some things are pale flowers or pale garments. Colorful socks. Stripes and colored belts. Gucci, Prada, etc all the big name designers are putting belts out. You can basically accessorize yourself from head to toe. From your shirt to your jacket, to your pants to your belt, to your socks to your shoes. What are three do’s and three don’ts to wearing a suit? Well, I always say you can’t put shapes and stripes together. It’s just a lot going on. I think that the shapes and stripes is no.1. No. 2 is every man should have a black or blue suit. Blue is more professional and nobody wears black – not even to a funeral anymore, not even a wedding. So everybody should have a blue suit. If you buy anything, let a blue suit be your first suit. No. 3 …I always say wear tan shoes and brown shoes instead of black shoes because you can wear those with every single outfit you have. When is it okay to NOT wear a tie? It always depends on two things. The first part of it is what is the vision of the job and who will you be meeting on the job. The rule of thumb is if the person across the table from you is the boss and he choose not to wear a tie, then you should choose not to wear a tie. If he is wearing a tie, you should be wearing a tie. What’s the name of your foundation? What is your mission? Yes, my wife and I have a foundation called Styling Smiles. One thing me and my wife is doing is picking people that really can’t afford to have shoes, clothes, or dental work done and what we’re doing is giving them a makeover. We are also going to take five high school kids and give them their first suit. Their first suit could take them to college, take them to their first job interview, take them to the military, graduation, prom or wherever it maybe. This is what they’ll use their suit for. The second thing is were going to give away ten percent of our clients personal garments. They are going to give us their old clothes for missionary work. Everything is under our company Thompson Bespoke and you will see a small tab at the bottom where is says foundation. What advice would you give to other young stylists in-the-making? I’m going to be honest with you. They need to have a business degree and a fashion degree because it’s more of a business than it is fashion. Fashion is a taste and if people would like a taste, then they can always direct to fashion. But the business part is what kills most people that comes in this business. You must know how to manage the accounts and take care of the clients from a financial stand point. For more information on Rashan Michel and his company, visit Facebook at Thompson Bespoke.