Do You and Stay True feat. “Professor Badass”
May 5th, 2014
Brooklyn native Kevin Stewart is a visual artist, shirt maker and musician who performs original material in his hometown. He’s also a style legend with 20+ years experience in the fashion and publishing industries.
His celebrated personal style is not just about the clothes he wears – style is much more than clothes. It’s his energy. His ethos. His down to earth but confident demeanor. Some call it “swag”, some call it “mojo”, some call it charisma… Or charm. Or magnetism. Whatever you call it, when somebody’s got it, we all know it (whether we can describe it or not). And I haven’t met too many people who have more of “it” than KStew.
Kevin’s eye for aesthetics, along with his uncanny ability to stay true to himself and shake conventional trends, have always been his keys to opening new doors. Over the past twenty years he’s served as Fashion Director and Style Director for leading publications including Details, Vibe, Gear, Savoy, Essence and ESPN The Magazine. He’s also been tapped as a Visual Merchandiser and Designer for luxury retailers like Barney’s NY, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Alfred Dunhill.
Professor Badass has been all over the fashion industry, and all over the world, but has always stayed close to his roots as a Brooklyn artist. We linked up with the living legend to bring you a taste of his personal style, and more importantly, his philosophy of “do YOU and good things will come”.
“I was a big music fan in the early 80s [and] style was a big part of Post Punk and the New Wave era of the 80s. I was also in a band and played guitar, so my personal style became a focus…Having style sets a person apart. Looking appropriate can get you in the door. It will get you noticed and may land you a job. And back in the day it would get you in a club. It shows a personal effort!
I’ve been playing dress up most of my life. It has opened doors for me and I have amused myself. I look at myself as a canvas, I paint on myself with my clothing… I’ve been collecting clothes for many years, from all the places I’ve traveled…Guanajuato, Mexico, Cairo, Egypt, Iceland, London, Paris, Milan… Each piece reminds me of a time and place I’ve been… Styles change, but not me. I’ve always gone my own way… I’m not big on trends.
I was planning to be a ROCK STAR, and even had a record deal in the mid ’80s. My best friend caused us to lose that recording deal, so I became a display artist – worked with clothing, understanding visual presentation and how it impacted sales. Eventually, I became a Fashion Director in publishing and traveled like a ROCK STAR! It was the next best thing; free drinks, lots of travel, wearing great clothes… I may still get around to the ROCK STAR bit, on my own this go ’round, some 27 years later than I had planed. It’s never too late to do you!”
2. Go With Your Gut
“I am, and have always been, an Artist first. From the time I could hold a crayon or a paint brush, mold a piece of clay or carve a block of wood. I make art, that’s all I have ever done and wanted to do! My Mother fueled this… She knew I would not be a doctor or accountant. I was terrible at math.
I tried to be myself at all times, even if that’s sometimes over the top or just bold. I was never shy, just silent to those who did not know me. That was sometimes taken as being standoffish… I never was concerned with the thoughts or opinions of others. Again, my mother made me this way; she gave me confidence that carried me through all of my journey. I had no choice in how to be. TG [thank God], I’m living as much of this life as I can.
I like the ‘RISK’ involved in living and creating. I do this to the fullest, and out in the open. This is what makes me the happiest! I hope everyone can do the same! I’m just at age 49 trying to be the happiest I can be. I don’t want to hurt anyone, only encourage all to live the way that works for them. I had to live this way…for me to be happy!
You can’t be creative and worry about what’s the right thing to do. You have to go with your gut.”
3. Swag Gumbo
“As far as style influences, I like iconography. Larger than life men! Civil War Generals (that is the beard influence). Black exploitation heros like Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, The Hammer. Super Fly, Ryan O’Neal, musician Isaac Hayes, The Black Moses from the ’70s. Blues musicians. Jazz musicians. Louie Armstrong… Miles Davis at every point in his life.
I like overly confident, creative and smart men. Producer Robert Evens, photographer Gorden Parks, Bob Guccione Sr.; creator of PENTHOUSE MAGAZINE. Gangsters and Outlaws of a time gone by. They had swag! That’s about it for influences and men I look to. I’ve taken a bit of their MOJO, mixed it in a pot and made my own Gumbo of style!”
“All the shirts here are from my collection, OLD SCHOOL SHIRT MAKERS NEW YORK from my latest RAILROAD COLLECTION. This is my eighth year as a shirt maker, manufacturing in the United States! My shirts are rooted in an American design aesthetic… Made in 100% fine cottons with western detailing like pearl snaps, with club and band collars.
The narrative of this collection is the essence of the continental railway worker and joining the divide between east and west. ‘RAILROAD’ is a metaphor for movement in the mind to destinations dreamed of. It’s not just the design of the shirts, it is the state of my own being! I am moving on!”
Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Kevin for participating!
Yours in style,
Photography by Westley Dimagiba.