Identifying Fashion is a column by Susan Myer Silton, which asks people with a unique fashion footprint how fashion shapes their identity. Photos by Nick Chao.
February brings Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, and hopefully for us on the Central Coast of California, some rain! My February gift to you, dear readers, is the “striking ornament of nature” Jose Estevez. Before you start imagining yourself touching the cleft in his chin like Audrey Hepburn did with Cary Grant’s in “Charade” while asking, “How do you shave in there?” you need to know he’s taken: taken by and taken with his wife, the lovely Ellie Vilmenay, a writer at The Penny Rose and a fashion industry veteran. The other young woman in his life is his 3-year-old daughter Maelle, and his 15-month-old son is Maceo.
Jose is a man of many talents; he’s a graphic artist, photographer (more about that later), break-dancer and sometimes actor.
I was struck by his style the first time we met, when he photographed Jane Farrar for January’s Identifying Fashion. His style had an easy feel, but some savvy touches, like his Kangol 504 cap—the man can rock a hat!—his unusual (and hard to find) vintage brown leather Converse hi-tops, and a whimsical miniature boxing mitt with “Dominican Republic” embroidered on the cuff, dangling from his rucksack. I could say more, but I’d rather you hear about his style from Mr. J REz himself. When I ask about how fashion shapes his identity, this is his answer:
“Let's start by saying that I grew up in the Lower East Side of New York City in the '80s and '90s, so I was heavily influenced by hip hop culture. It wasn’t until I bought my first pair of Adidas classic shell tops that I realized how fashion could affect the way I feel, because I felt good when I put them on, to the point that I felt like 'me' when I wore them. That hasn’t changed. I still feel most like me when I have them on and they are a signature to this day. I also pretty much always wear a hat. I searched for years for a hat that was, again, 'me.' I found it in the Kangol 504 cap and it’s been a staple in my closet ever since. I add to the collection, but this style is in constant rotation.
Another element of hip hop style at that time was baggy clothing which I was wearing up until I met my now wife. If you ask her, I was wearing everything two sizes too big. She worked in the fashion industry and encouraged me to start wearing clothes that fit me. It wasn’t hard to make the transition because, once again, it made me feel good and confident to wear clothes that fit properly. I became aware of how much better I looked when my clothes were the right size. My interest in fashion evolved.
I started to work color into my closet when I bought a rust colored sweater in college. I still love my neutrals, but getting a lot of positive compliments on it made me realize that I could wear color. It’s been a slow process but I like to at least try something new. There’s also a lot more color available for men these days.
Fast forward to present day and I identify as a dad, an artist, photographer, graphic designer, and I feel like all of these things tie in to the way I look. You can see a bit of my past in my Adidas and Kangol. You can see my artistic side expressed in how I put together color and pattern, and I love graphic tees. The dad part shows because pretty much everything is wash and wear. I still want to look good as a dad but I know I’m going to get dirty.”
Jose is wearing a J Crew shirt, available here, a Matco New York hat, similar here, H&M trousers, available here, Converse hi-top brown leather laced sneakers, somewhat similar here and here, a Ralph Lauren bracelet, similar here and here, and a bespoke necklace by Jane Farrar, stamped with the names of his children.
Jose says, “The necklace has become part of who I am. It has my kids’ names on it. It's a constant reminder that all I do is for them.”
To have a similar piece of jewelry personally designed for you, contact Jane Farrar at (831) 247-0750.
Jose is wearing a Rugby by Ralph Lauren black sweater, somewhat similar here, Van's V66 jeans, available here, Kangol Tropic 504 Ventair Cap in Sepia available here, and Kenneth Cole black slip-ons, similar here.