Off-Trend: Spring | Varyer

Off-Trend: Spring

Dear Reader,

Ever since childhood, I’ve felt this intense pressure to do everything correctly. Maybe this was how I internalized the—you gotta work twice as hard only to get less—conversation. Getting less never interested me though, so I guess that's why I work three times as hard. I don't desire a lot from people or the world, especially regarding objects. While I love beautiful things, I don’t need to own them, partially because I’m always in a state of transit.

While I am no longer running from life’s hardships, I am still unlearning many bad habits—and commitment is one of them. I love the elusiveness of my life; I feel there should be a TV show about it one day (@karlaproduces, I’m looking at you). But, elusiveness is gray, no commitment is necessary. While I am being less elusive in my personal life, I am leaning in hard regarding personal style. Since the first installment of Off-Trend, I’ve felt a shift in how I move throughout the city and how it moves through me. And, honestly, I’ve never felt more tapped in. Much like the series title implies, I’m not on-trend. Growing up, I could never afford on-season clothes, and eventually, I stopped keeping up with them. Now that I’m fashion-adjacent, I feel guilty about not knowing much about trends. But I can say that it makes working in fashion less stressful, less strategic, and more authentic.

You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.

Diana Vreeland

When I wake up, I look forward to getting dressed. I’m genuinely excited to see what I can come up with. I’ve tried to pre-plan out my outfits, but you can't predict your moods. My morning routine these days is pretty solid: I wake and bake while drinking cold brew, and blast some sad love song, or something from here. I’ve found a new love for curating playlists, so it’s giving LimeWire. Recently, I’ve been challenging myself with style. I’ve never been a denim guy–I have big thighs and often find denim very uncomfortable and stiff. After years, I finally decided to lean into denim and embrace the textile as it is, not how I want it to be. My business partner and dear friend, Amanda Christine Harth, is very much into the textile and the craft of indigo dying. I have learned a thing or two over these years of knowing her. [Pro-tip: Experiment with textiles and fabrics that may scare you.]

[How do you want to live in the world?] Constant. Owning a beverage brand, I’ve started paying a lot of attention to sustainability–as it relates to the practice of being sustainable. As I’m carving out more time to think about my future, I’m trying to implement routines and healthy habits to grow into. I’ve always navigated growth as if it were a race: never slow and steady, but always striving to be the first. In regards to style, I want to take my time with this. I’m unsure where and how my style will evolve, but I hope to stay constant. I hope I’m learning by experience and not by critics. I hope I listen to my body and not the comments section. Most of all, I hope we—The People—figure out how to sustain fashion and better our practices in developing [our] personal style.

Never slow and steady, but always striving to be the first. Never slow and steady, but always striving to be the first.

The Routine: The Uniform // mood

  • Drake-Suit

  • Black Loafers

  • Pink Beanie

For the first time, I’m experiencing the freedom of self-expression through fashion. I’m feeling very Raven Baxter. I’ve always subscribed to women and the stereotypical #GBF, and I feel obligated to stand ten toes down in my look, whatever that may be. I know I’m being watched, noticed, and celebrated in ways I never have before and I want that to mean something. I’m not interested in being anyone’s “Fashion Icon,” nor do I want folks to think I know all there is to know about Fashion. I will proudly be the first to acknowledge that I am not a fashion expert. [Sidenote: the “F” in fashion is capitalized to emphasize the capital “F” in fashion.] Now, I have great taste and a great sense of style. But, truthfully, I think about how things make me feel. I want to feel like the coolest, sexiest, and most intruding person in the room—at least most days. Confidence is always a great accessory.


By now, you all can tell I’m a Drake fan (I am a certified lover boy, myself). But, because Drake is Canadian and Drake’s is a phenomenal Drake—this felt like a happy medium. In May of 2020, I realized that I was stuck in the house and the life I had planned was trashed. To cope, I began online shopping. This denim jacket is ½ of a ZARA coping session. The shirt is something local; my brother, Buchi Okafor, recently gifted me this embroidered denim shirt from his brand, Legacy Apparel Co. My pants are from my favorite store, Uniqlo. I’m a sucker for a good fit. I like when my clothes feel like they’re a part of me // made for me. These jeans do that for me. I would like to go on record and state that these are my favorite jeans.

Black Loafers

When I die, bury me with black loafers. By now, even strangers know my black loafers from Dr. Martens are a Kizer Signal–my version of a Bat Signal. [If you see Black loafers, know I’m not far]. I love how multifunctional and pretty gender-neutral loafers are. I wear them with shorts, slacks, and denim. Now, I must admit how painful breaking them in can be. [Kizer Edit: Do not buy a pair and decide to walk all around LES for 6 hours. You will not want to wear them ever again.]

Pink Beanie

Pink is pretty bold for me, but I figure if I can navigate wearing a red hat post-2016 election, that Pink isn’t that scary. After the first six months, the number of double-backs and hard glances from folks became less worrisome and more comical. It became an ice breaker of sorts—a visible alliance. After a while, I found the red hat triggering, so I pivoted to the Red Beanie, which lasted until this past winter. Going Blue broke a long cycle of intense glances and double-backs. As the seasons change and as I experiment more, I think it’s time to give Pink a chance.

The Build: The Edit

  • Grooming: Shea Moisture Beard Wash

  • Clothing: Clarks

  • Brand: lululemon (I know, I know)

[Kizer Edit: Eat spinach, turn on DND at 8 pm, watch re-runs of Ugly Betty, call your mother, and drink more water.]

Truth be told, I’ve never paid much attention to Shea Moisture until recently. What caught my attention is how well they captured Black men with their crisp linings and glowing skin. It’s precisely how I’d want to be captured. I would definitely consider them [a] big brand, but I think they do it well.

I’ve wanted a pair of Clark’s for years. I never could justify spending upwards of $150 on desert boots, especially living in Chicago. That never made sense, but I did it anyway, and I don’t regret it. I love structured garments and shoes. But the Wallabees are soft and structured.

[Brand–lululemon] Hear me out; have you ever tried on anything from Lulu? A shirt, shorts—dare I say, leggings? I used to feel the same kind of resistance to the idea that you might be feeling; I’ve felt the same way about Sweetgreen, too. However, when something is good, it’s hard to deny its glory.