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January 9, 2024

Suit Up!

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It started as a statement: getting a group of Black guys together in their best clothes for a photoshoot to challenge the too-often negative media portrayal of Black men. But over the past four years it has morphed into a growing movement promoting positivity and inspiring men to succeed. It’s challenging and changing the cultural narrative.
Our Black Menswear FlashMobs now draw up to several hundred men from all sorts of different backgrounds. They have become safe places for Black men to gather and celebrate their style, providing networking opportunities for business and mentoring. We’ve added a “Sunday Service” component to these weekend events, where we partner with a local organization on a community project of some kind. We also record a Dapper Conversations roundtable with leading influencers like celebrity stylist Rich Fresh.
We have all kinds of participants in our events. There’s the senior vice president of one of the largest music labels out there, who’s helped build the careers of some of the industry’s biggest stars. Then there’s a juvenile corrections officer who went to six of our 10 events around the country last year to participate with young men he worked with, who were looking to be a part of something positive.
By highlighting stories of different men through social media (we have 360,000 Instagram followers), we’re trying to broaden the representation and expression of Black excellence in our culture. We want to show it doesn’t have to be limited to musicians, athletes and entertainers to provide different types of positive role models for young Black and brown boys. One guy in Baltimore, an electrician, bought his first suit to be a part of our FlashMob.
It’s not just about looking sharp, though. Our emphasis on style is more so about “enclothed cognition”—understanding that what you wear is a reflection of how you think and feel about yourself. How you present yourself to others can open new doors of opportunity. We both can recall one moment in particular when someone judged us without even knowing us. We were with a friend, all of us wearing suits, when a young brother who was also riding the elevator looked over at us and said to our friend, “You dress like a white person.” Our friend told him, “No, I dress like an adult.” This speaks to our stance that dressing well isn’t about color; it’s about confidence in who you are.
One of the best endorsements we’ve had for what we’re trying to do has come from the pastor of one of the country’s largest churches. Noting how more than 200 guys came together on a Sunday morning for one of our FlashMob events, he told us: “You had men showing up in suits at 10 o’clock. You had no food, no women, no alcohol, so you really didn’t have any incentive for them to be there other than just to be around men that look like them . . . I can’t get brothers to show up, let alone to show up in a suit.”
NéAndré Broussard, founder and CEO of Black Menswear (blackmenswear.com), lives in Dallas with his wife and two sons. Based in Chicago, Evan Marshall is Black Menswear’s COO.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of WayMaker Journal.