Popz Topz Is Putting A New Spin On Classic Menswear

image via popztopz.com

In the nearly 15 years John Legend (né John Stephens) has been in the public eye, the crooner has built a successful career around his music and acting endeavors, obtaining dozens of awards in the process, including the highly coveted Academy Award for Best Original Song. Yet, he didn’t get to this level without the nurturing, instruction and hard work of his parents, and now, the hard work of his father, a retired factory worker and National Guardsmen, is taking center stage as well.

Legend’s father, Ronald Stephens (affectionately called Pop Stephens and Pop Legend, in reference to his son’s stage name) has entered the wide field of haberdashery, starting with unique headwear. His first project to be sold to the public, Popz Topz, is taking men’s fashion for a ride. Pop, always nimble with his hands, and interested in style–his wife, John’s mother was a professional seamstress–got the idea by revamping one of his old straw hats, cutting off the brim and attaching a baseball bill to the front instead. His first design was for personal reasons, but he was later inspired to produce it for others, after people started inquiring about the undoubtedly one-of-a-kind presentation.

Subsequently, the designer has created a new phenomenon, which he hopes will bridge the gap between styles of today and those of the past. Because most of his designs essentially marry classic hat styles like the homburg or pork pie with the modern baseball bill, Mr. Stephens says the hat can be dressed up or down, with a tuxedo or with denim jeans, as something for everyone. After 4 years, that’s certainly appearing true. Thanks to his son’s investment (one of a dozen initial backers) and famous connections, Stephens has gained a valuable customer base, including the legendary producer and composer, Quincy Jones.

Check out this recent video, with Pop Stephens discussing the hat on Good Day Columbus ( he hails from Springfield, less than an hour away from the city).

What are your thoughts? Would you wear this style, or is it not your thing? Tweet me and let me know.

photocredit: PopzTopz.com

Classic Man: 4 Accesories Every Gentleman Needs

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Fashion is always changing, but certain items of clothing have remained consistent, defining what it means to be a gentleman, or a man of noble status, for centuries. Hence the term classic, which is altogether impervious to trends and the volatility of human preference over time. Last year, music star Jidenna revived this idea in popular culture, and since, younger generations are seemingly catching onto this way of life that many others have cultivated over time. For those interested in “looking clean” as the song suggests, here are some absolutes your collection:

  1. Watch
    brown leather wristwatchThese days, everyone has a cellphone in his hand or pocket to tell the time, so a watch is not necessary. However, as an accessory, few other pieces of jewelry enhance an overall look like a wrist watch. The watch is a symbol of care and craftsmanship; a statement of punctuality and the mark of someone who means business. Another benefit of the watch is its versatility. It comes in a variety of colors, metals and unique identifiers, like faces without numbers, precious stones, or multiple clocks to manage different time zones. A watch is still a conversation starter, and for many, a most prized possession. Indeed its rareness has enhanced its desirability, and I highly recommend investing a great one to have for life. If you really want to impress someone, invest the older, more rare, pocket watch.
  2. Belt
    brown leather men's beltSagging is a trend that has become popular around the world, but mostly among urban youth. Like all children, those who rock the trend do so without concern and almost certainly out of rebellion. As a gentleman, though, you should always wear a belt. Always. In addition to keeping your pants on your waist, it serves to bring your look together, making it more complete and cohesive. I would suggest investing in at least one black and one brown belt, to best complement the color base of your clothing on a given day. Also, be sure to match the belt with the color of your shoes–meaning, black belt with black shoes, brown belt with brown shoes. Lastly, make sure the quality of the belt goes with what you’re wearing. A casual belt with a more dressy or professional look can actually diminish the aesthetic.
  3. Tie
    blue silk necktieIn the professional world, there is not much room for extravagant patterns or colors. Standard business attire calls for dark colored suits and shoes with light shirts. The tie doesn’t have as many rules, and is the best display of individualism for gentlemen who must don black or gray suits everyday. A great tie is, perhaps, the most definitive accessory for a gentleman that is always in season. Learning to tie one properly and experimenting with different knots is a badge of honor; men of all ages benefit greatly from doing so. Bowties are another great option for guys who want to stand out and add an extra layer of interest to an ensemble, and for more formal events, an ascot is a great alternative and sophisticated neckwear.
  4. Pocket Square
    polka dot pocket squareIn addition to the tie, most guys use the pocket square to accessorize otherwise monotonous looks. Unless you’re wearing the pocket square on special occasion like a wedding, banquet or prom, along with a tuxedo, it doesn’t have to match the tie exactly, but they should complement one another. The best way to do this, should you opt for different patterns, is to maintain the same or similar colors so that neither accessory is distracting from the other, but working together as a whole. Like the tie, learn different ways to fold your pocket square to add variety to your look, and you’ll always have options. It should be noted that pocket squares are only for jackets; wearing a pocket square inside of a shirt is a not ideal.