Apuje Kalu embraced his true calling–fashion in 2009.
“[This] was the push I needed to pursue fashion,” he explains. “I was stylish. But I didn’t know that would lead to a life as a stylist. Growing up in D.C. sparked my interest in fashion. As a city, we supported local designer. And that entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with creativity, fueled my love of clothing.”
The fashion stylist and creative director’s first official gig was for a friend’s engagement and lifestyle shoot, and he’s been killing the style game since. More than a decade later, his impressive resume includes clients Jay Ellis (Insecure), Trevor Jackson (Grown-ish), Yvonne Orji (Insecure), Kandi Burruss (Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Marsai Martin (Black-ish).
Kalu gives all the credit to his family’s culture for his style success.
“My Nigerian heritage has had the biggest impact on my style. Watching my family’s attention to detail and mixing patterns and prints so effortlessly has provided a blueprint for my personal aesthetic.” Here’s more of our interview.
DO YOU MAINLY ADHERE TO STYLE RULES OR A FEELING?
Rules are made to be broken. Style is a feeling, a mood, a vibe. I step in front of the mirror and my visceral reaction is to smile. I know I am rockin’ the right fit.
WHO WERE YOUR STYLE ICONS GROWING UP, AND WHO INFLUENCES YOUR STYLE CURRENTLY?
As a child, I looked up to Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown and Lenny Kravitz. I’m currently inspired by real people. Some of the biggest trends are inspired by the streetwear culture. My best people-watching occurs at the airport. You encounter such a diverse cross section of people, customs and culture.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR QUARANTINE STYLE? ARE YOU AN ALL-DAY-IN-PJS? OR THE GET-FULLY-DRESSED KIND OF GUY?
I believe in doing the least. I’m a tank top-and-shorts kind of guy. If I need to hop on a quick Zoom call. I’ll toss on a nice polo shirt and fedora because I don’t have a haircut. Man, I miss my barber.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING AFTER QUARANTINE?
I’ve become quite the glutton these past few weeks/months. I’m looking forward to getting back to my fitness routine and hitting the friendly skies. I can’t wait to hear, “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome aboard this flight to…”
HOW DOES TRAVEL INFLUENCE YOUR STYLE?
Travel opens your mind, sharpens your senses and elevates your palate. I love viewing fashion from a global lens. I incorporate things from other cultures into my repertoire and make them my own.
WHAT’S YOUR SUMMER STYLE?
My summer style is pretty minimalistic. It’s really all about accessories and fly kicks. I’m looking forward to whipping out all of my two-piece sets (co-ord) for the summer!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BLACK-OWNED APPAREL OR ACCESSORY BRANDS?
Grayscale by BJ Gray. Fear of God. Jagne. Cushnie. Romeo Hunte. And Esenshel.