Kechi ‘The Eccentric Dandy’

Stylist, blogger and colourful fashion week street style setter, Kechi “The Eccentric Dandy” has a unique point of view on all things fashion. His eclectic style and bold dressing is exciting and rule-breaking and infectious to all. Having met at Paris Fashion Week in 2019, Victoria Brunton reconnected with him online in this interview for our menswear series on accessories and style.

Has your way of dressing always been received positively outside of our industry and have you always had such a strong confidence in your style, as you portray? I don’t think anyone is confident immediately; for me personally, it was a process of growing my confidence. I grew up in a small mid-western college town where much of dressing was about being ‘cool’, which ultimately served a culture of conformity. It wasn’t until the last couple of years leading to my jump to New York that I really began to play with my style. Cultivating my personal aesthetic took work— and lots of it – and while it was fun to do, dressing differently wasn’t always easy; one often encounters resistance when fighting against the grain, and that’s okay. More importantly the benefits to dressing, and in doing so being true to yourself and having others respond well to that, far overrides any criticism. To put it simply; if someone has something negative to say about me, or about how I dress that’s a reflection on them – not me.  Above: photo by @scander9

Paris Fashion Week (2019)

What do you look for when selecting a frame? Perhaps you could tell us about your favorite pair of glasses in your collection… I adore eyewear because it is such an easy way to transform your look! As far as choosing frames; I look for how they suit my face and their overall suitability. I really enjoy different kinds of lens tints because there is so much choice; two-tone, a rose tint, a full black out lens or a nice hunter yellow — the options are endless! Different styles of frame definitely speak to different eras and moods; right now, my favorite frame is a pair of brown-tinted Tom Ford aviators – they go with everything. I do love my extremes in eyewear, but nothing beats a good classic pair of shades you can grab on your way out of the door.

When planning an outfit, what role do accessories play for you? Accessories aren’t any more or any less important than any other piece of clothing I wear; you can have great accessories and still be poorly dressed, in my opinion. So, having that balance between all of your pieces is essential. Sometimes your clothes are doing the talking while your accessories take the back seat – and vice versa, and if you really wanna party, everything; your clothes, accessories and hair are all talking at once – AKA me at every fashion week.

“For the love of prints” – photo by @rvrdwn

Is there a growing demand for more choice in the male accessories market? Do you often find yourself having to seek out an accessory categorized as “woman’s”, simply because it is not provided for in “men’s”? Looking at guys on the street there is certainly a growing demand for men’s and gender non-specific accessories. The fact that men are finding new ways to wear old accessories speaks to this; a recent example being men wearing fanny packs slung around the torso as a pseudo-purse VS the traditional way of wearing it around the waist. This has expanded to the more daring men wearing actual handbags and purses that are generally geared towards women. I remember seeing one of the members of the rap trio Migos rocking a Goyard purse; the hyper-masculinity generally associated with rap music and culture combined with the feminine connotations of a designer purse made this really stand out to me. Times are changing, in recent seasons some big brands are responding to this need; Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Fendi are offering styles of accessories that are much more gender neutral in their utility and how they’re marketed. This can be seen further when you are really, as the kids say – ‘in your bag’ (pun intended) – the designated gender for that particular item shouldn’t matter; it’s just fabric at the end of the day, and if it speaks to you, it speaks to you. As they say; ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’ – I find this to be particularly true for all accessories; bags, eyewear— you name it.

OGI Eyewear
NEUBAU
BLACKFIN
LINDBERG
Götti Switzerland
Hall of Frames

On a stylist’s note, when styling myself or others I can’t be bothered if a particular accessory is ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’. What is more important to me is that it’s well executed, or that it completes the look – as a stylist, that’s my main concern. Following rigid rules of gender conformity unfortunately can be very limiting; while fashion does still rely heavily upon gender and recognizes its place, the industry in many cases works to supersede gender roles or at the bare minimum question them – otherwise an industry that seeks to move forward, would become stagnant – and what fun would that be?

As a young boy, did you always have a fondness for style and fashion – was this path one you have always wanted to follow?  Lying beneath the surface there was always something within me that responded to aesthetics, although, my innate inclination towards dressing and style took some time to manifest itself. I’d have to say it happened in slow gradual stages; I remember in kindergarten I saw one of my classmates wearing a cardigan, upon returning home I immediately – not knowing the word ‘cardigan’ – began describing this particular item of clothing to my mother. I’m sure my five-year-old self must of conveyed some level of urgency, because my mother bought me not one, but two ‘cardigans’; one of which had green dinosaur buttons (it’s all about the details). This interest in clothes continued into middle school and high school, but as I mentioned earlier, at that stage of life it’s more about conformity and less about individuality. In high school I did start reading GQ and Details and in college that expanded to W, Vogue, Vogue Italia, L’Uomo – to name a few, but even at that point I didn’t see fashion as a career possibility. It wasn’t until a particular day in my college calculus class that I caught myself day dreaming about clothes, it was sort of an ‘a-hah!’ moment – although, considering this career path was a bit terrifying, I decidedly thought it was something I should maybe explore first – even then it was still some time before I’d verbalize this to my friends and family.

Finally, if you could tell us about the ignition of your interest in style, and your journey towards a career in the fashion industry. My passion really began to grow once I started thrifting with my Mom; having access to inexpensive clothes slowly opened my mind towards the idea of a career in fashion. Upon my first visit to the local thrift store I came across a vintage Dior trench that I got for a steal; this experience definitely worked as a catalyst— igniting my sartorial journey. Before I knew it I couldn’t get away from clothes and thrifted at every given opportunity. Later on I became friends with a vintage shop owner, who – after a while of observing how I shopped – said I had ‘an eye’; I wasn’t sure what she meant at first, but she explained how within her store teeming with vintage I could almost effortlessly find specific designer pieces. I was quite flattered and figured I just might have a knack for this “fashion thing”. Then began a beautiful exploration where I wasn’t seeking approval from others, but instead my personal style choices were based purely upon what I found suited me – in essence that is exactly what it truly means to develop a sense of style. It took some time and courage to figure out my next course of action and it wasn’t until soon after finishing my studies in Anthropology and Sociology I made the move to New York City; the fashion mecca I had not much more than dreamed of living in. I knew making this move would put me in a better position to pursue a career in fashion. It’s been hard work – but the connections I’ve made, the people I’ve met and worked with and everything else I have access to has only grown each day. I was blessed to have found a fabulous church based in the performing arts #IAmARock so I have been surrounded by many like-minded creatives. I appreciate and am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had thus far, but I still have some ways to go and I’m definitely enjoying the journey— properly accessorized of course. Follow Kechi @theeccentricdandy on Instagram. Interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com