He was an irresistible deliveryman in ‘Soul Food’ and a suave basketball player in ‘Brown Sugar.’ Now, after packing up his courier uniform and athletic shorts, Boris Kodjoe will slip into tailored threads for the new NBC spy drama ‘Undercovers,’ premiering on September 22. In real life, the debonair actor and former model is providing inexpensive custom-made suits and shirts for men and women with his new fashion line, Alfa, which stands for “affordable luxury for all.” Chatting with Black Voices about the unique line, Kodjoe shared style advice and fessed up to some of his memorable fashion mistakes.
What inspired you to create Alfa?
Everyone deserves shirts and suits that fit and won’t break the bank. Growing up, my brother [and business partner] Patrick and I couldn’t afford clothes like that. We had long arms, so shirts never fit right. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. Off the rack clothing sometimes doesn’t fit. It can be a constant struggle finding what fits you and sometimes you end up settling. Alfa is affordable — starting at 30 bucks. You can’t beat that. Just [go to www.worldofalfa.com,] input your size, choose from 150 fabrics, and select the colors, cuffs and buttons. It’s a very easy interactive 3-D experience. You are the designer. These clothes are made for you, by you.
How often do you design shirts and suits on your site?
I design three or four shirts a week. I wore Alfa to the Emmys this year. A $30 light pink shirt and $150 black tux with pink lining. [My wife, Nicole Ari Parker] has fun with it too. She designs shirts for her dad and friends. It can be addicting!
How would you describe your style?
I like classic European fitted suits and shirts, solid colors, and understated patterns. I’m all about comfort and a classic look. I really like the style of Sidney Poitier and the late Steve McQueen. That’s my taste.
You’re always impeccably dressed. Can you share some of your style secrets?
Wear clothes that hug your body. Clothes are meant to frame your body, not hang off. I think suits are always a great look. Every man needs four or five suits that include business, casual, and summer suits. Don’t wear a suit with more than three buttons. One or two button suits are in fashion now. Your suit jacket sleeves should reach down right into the palm of your hand and come down to your first knuckles — never longer than that. Oh, and don’t put your shirt collar over suit collar. That’s so John Travolta in ‘Saturday Night Fever’. That doesn’t work anymore.
Can you share some of your fashion faux pas?
When I was 11, I insisted on stuffing everything in my pants. I’d wear sweaters and stuff it in my pants. My pants were puffed out. I looked like I was smuggling stuff! I also remember wearing this black and silver shirt, with a weird pattern, to an NAACP awards ceremony. It had a huge collar. I looked like a genie that just jumped out of a lamp. It was all wrong.
How vocal are you in the wardrobe decisions on the set of ‘Undercovers’?
I’m wearing Alfa on the show. We created the look of the character, Steven Bloom. His style is sophisticated and classy — kind of a James Bond look.
You have two kids. Are they fashion savvy?
Sophie is five and it’s a big fight when it comes to what she wears. We put her clothes out, but she’ll want to wear something else and ends up looking like Lady Gaga! Lots of ruffles, headbands, flowers, and leggings. After a while, as a parent, you just let her wear it. My son, Nicolas, he’s three, and he’s into anything athletic. So he’s mostly wears basketball shorts and sneakers. [Last week] he wore his cleats to school. I reminded him his game is on Saturday. But he didn’t care. He wanted to wear the cleats!
For more information on Alfa visit: http://www.worldofalfa.com
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