Wearing bright orange Ralph Lauren pants, a straw hat and a bow tie, he struts through San Francisco’s Westfield Mall. He gives me a tour as if the mall is his own personal mansion: pointing to designer stores and new spring collections as he passes by. He knows when the next shipment of clothes will arrive ,new Spring collection will arrive or which pieces will be put on the infamous – and often looked down upon – sales racks.
But, there is no shame in Antwain Mitchell’s game – he shops often the rack sometimes. When he shops in Westfield’s J.Crew, the menswear personal shoppers know him by name and by his personal taste because he shops there frequently and with purpose.
“He has great taste,” said Debra Morton, a menswear personal shopper at J. Crew. “He puts clothes together in an inventive way. He mixes classics together.”
Mitchell, a barely 20-year-old fashion student at San Francisco’s Academy of the Arts, is carving out his own style-driven lane in the gritty city of San Francisco with his Baltimore gentleman style. With a fashion blog – “Another Fashion Book” – that has over 10,000 followers and he has been featured in fashion-forward blogs like “The Urban Fashion Bomb Daily.”
Mitchell’s blog is filled with fashion he describes as “hot,” from urban wear to runway looks, photoshoots to street style. Antwain credits the success of his popularity to his marketing class at Carver Vocational Technical High School in West Baltimore.
In addition, controversial singer M.I.A.’s protégé Ra Ra had Mitchell style her red carpet look. It’s no wonder why the San Francisco Chronicles’ “The City Exposed” has coined him as a local trendsetter.
“They (Antwain Mitchell and Trent Wells) pride themselves on being up on latest trends and love to express themselves through clothes. Mitchell’s high top Fade hair cut was set off by an 80’s inspired sweater few could pull off properly. They insist they dress this way to feel good,” said Mike Kepka, Chronicle staff writer, in “The City Exposed” article.
“I can make a thrift store outfit look like it came from Barney’s,” Mitchell said in his thick Baltimore accent.
However, money is not an issue for Mitchell, whose parents fully support him financially through his education. With a successful real estate agent as a mother and a social security building manager as a father, Mitchell has access to fashion in a way that some starving fashion students may not. While Mitchell acknowledged his privilege, he also recognized the importance of working hard to buy the things worth splurging on.
“Nothing is free in this world,” he said, and then added his fashion rule of thumb for men: “A man should never have a cheap belt or a cheap watch.”
For women, Mitchell counsels against the unflattering, “I-have-a-boyfriend-look,” which he defines as the way women look when they stop caring about fashion because they’re in a relationship.
As he walks the streets of Union Square, he passes by the Louis Vuitton store. Mitchell looks longingly at the designer briefcase in the window display. Even though Mitchell has the money to buy the briefcase, he says he hasn’t done anything to deserve it, nor does he have a real use for it. Designer items, Mitchell explains, should be treats, rewards for accomplishments.
Thinking of his accomplishments so far, it’s hard to see why Mitchell wouldn’t see himself as worthy of a reward. According to Mitchell, he isn’t ready for a Louis Vuitton briefcase because he isn’t done with his accomplishments yet. When asked about his accomplishments so far, Antwain replied with a huge smile and said he wasn’t done yet.
“Some people let their jobs hold them back from their dreams,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to live a regular life, in a regular job, doing regular things. I see so much more for myself.”
Mitchell’s predicted Summer Trends for Men and Women
1. Neon Colors
2. Prada Spring 2011 shoes for men
3. Wedge heels
4. Floral Print
6. Wide-legged jeans
7. Platform wedge heels
Advice on Blogging and Fashion:
1. Stay true to yourself.
2. Don’t change your style because of a popular trend.
3. Style is what you make it. Know what works for your body.
4. Post daily. People always want to see something new.