Kingsley Duah, the son of a tailor, was seemingly born with a penchant for fashion. Duah’s father encouraged his interest in style from a young age. The Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn native also found inspiration in the streets.
“There were a number of local guys I looked up to because they had all of the latest gear and wore it with such style and flair,” Duah shares. “It became a neighborhood thing. It was important to represent for your hood.”
Duah’s reputation for being a trendsetter led him into suiting. At 24, he opened his first custom men’s boutique in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. After taking a hiatus from fashion and delving into real estate, Duah made his way back to his first love and is now the co-founder of the menswear brand Privélege (theprivelege.com). His clientele list includes Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut and Don Cheadle.
Duah’s style pursuits have the streets watching. He was recently featured in the touring exhibit Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity.
Read what he has to say. –Tamara Crockett
What’s your philosophy when it comes to style choices?
Style is an outward expression of an inward feeling. My preference is to know the rules of dressing and understand how to bend them without breaking them. Your bending of the rules ultimately becomes your personal sense of style. If done right, it should garner respect and admiration.
What led you to suiting?
Suiting is a garment worn mostly for professional, momentous and special occasions. While there are a number of companies who manufacture suits, I felt African Americans needed a brand that symbolizes value and luxury designed by someone African American. A brand they can feel proud to wear and support.
Who were your style icons growing up?
I grew up watching guys like Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and certainly Ralph Lauren.
What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever worn?
As a kid in public school, somewhere around the fourth or fifth grade, I tried to impress a girl I had a crush on, so I wore a pair of my brother’s shell-toe Adidas sneakers and a black leather bomber jacket. As cool as I thought I looked, the sneakers were two sizes too big and I was practically swimming in the leather bomber. Surprisingly, it did impress the girl of interest, and we became close friends.
What’s your biggest men’s style pet peeve?
I have a few actually. However, the single most irritating is an arm sleeve, which is too long or too short, and it intensifies when the owner of the suit finds it imperative to keep the name tag on the sleeve of the suit.