AHMED BRAIMAH and JORDAN YATES
Founders of Well Suited, Men’s lifestyle blog
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE APARTMENT NUMBER 9?
AHMED: It’s a store that’s been blessed by a blessing. [owner Sarah Blessing] They have what you need! I still like going to other boutiques but this is definitely one of my favorites.
JORDAN: It’s well curated and it’s cool to be in a pop-up boutique because it will only last for so long. They have one of the best bag selections I’ve seen yet.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER FAVORITE CHICAGO STORES AND DESIGNERS?
AHMED: RSVP Gallery, Pyrex Vision – it’s on a straight path of stardom. Kanye wore a Pyrex hoody by Virgil Abloh during the 12.12.12 Sandy Benefit concert. Virgil is probably one of my favorite inspirations. He’s a creative director for Kanye. He knows how to do a lot with less. I also like Sir Madame. They do a great job and they keep it true to themselves. What you see is what you get.
JORDAN: Gallery Aesthete is one of the new boutiques around here. They carry a lot of Rick Owens. From how I’m dressed right now, you may not know, but I get a little bit crazy on the fashion side. Rick Owens, Barberini, MM6 – there are a few.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MENSWEAR TREND?
JORDAN: Lapel pins. There are not a lot of people doing them well or at all. It’s not too dandy and it’s just the right touch. You could dress it up or dress it down. It’s a very versatile trend.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE AN OUTFIT?
AHMED: If I have to be somewhere at 12:30, I don’t want to get ready until 12:15. I don’t want to over think it. The options I have in my closet are more that most. I want to cut it down to just go in and pick. If it doesn’t work, I’ll make it work.
JORDAN: I think we’re very similar. I basically go by event first and then I go by base, so I’ll go with a base color after I know where I’m going. If it’s formal, things are set out for you. It it’s something casual like this, I set out a base. The navy suit was the base and what was going to happen after that was completely up to chance.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLES?
AHMED: I don’t even know if I have a style. I’m all over the grid. I can definitely suit it down when need be. I could also be laid back with the best of them. I guess my style is Ahmed.
JORDAN: I’d say mine is irreverent. It’s always a twist on something. I’ll take the traditional of a given trend or style. Say it’s contemporary. Throwing a tuxedo shirt on with a Rick Owens drop crotch pant.
YOU’VE SEEN A LOT OF PEOPLE COME IN AND OUT OF THE NIGHTLIFE SCENE, WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE SOMEONE ON PUTTING A LOOK TOGETHER?
AHMED: No square toed shoes! Do not wear the duck shoes. Please leave Steve Madden at the house. Do not wear all white dress shoes to any good night venue.
JORDAN: The one thing I would say to stay away from – flannels. Keep them for the forest. It’s just a little bit too Paul Bunyan. It depends on the pattern. There are a lot of things that go into a flannel.
HOW DO YOU SEE CHICAGO’S EVOLUTION IN FASHION? ARE YOU SEEING IT ALREADY OR WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE NEEDED PUSH?
AHMED: It’s trying, with stores like this and boutiques like this, it can only help. There are certain guys out there that get it. Jerry Azumah, James Goeke, Virgil Abloh, Shannon Sangster. There are up and coming guys that are a little more edgy. Marc Moran. Sean Mac, he’s a DJ, has a new line coming out called Casket. Matt Roan. Certain people do get it. As long as they continue to get it, it may help influence other people around them.
JORDAN: Keep pushing. Shannon [Sangster] loves his Givenchy kilt. Loves it. A lot of people don’t get it. It’s not about the Givenchy kilt as a trend. It’s about stepping out and saying “This is good for me.” There’s a consistency in not caring and that’s how fashion develops.
WHAT ARE THREE ITEMS EVERY GENTLEMAN SHOULD HAVE IN HIS CLOSET?
JORDAN: Have to have at least one great suit!
AHMED: One great black suit that fits. With that black suit comes a well tailored white button-up. Nice pair of black shoes. Ferragamo maybe.
JORDAN: I would say a nice pair of black boots. Don’t shine them until they’re sparkling but make sure they’re well taken care of.
AHMED: Great pair of jeans. Me personally, they could be either Dior or RRL [Double RL]. I don’t know anything else. Do they make any other jeans? You also need one great T-shirt. The one that will stand the test of time.
WHAT’S ONE FAVORITE SPLURGE ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET?
JORDAN: Jill Sander tuxedo, which I haven’t worn yet. It’s just that holy grail item that might never. I don’t know if it will ever be worn. I hope it comes out this Fashion Week.
AHMED: My RRL jeans. I have 6 of them.
JORDAN: You’re out of control. [Laughs]
YOU’RE AT EVERY SCENE IN THE CITY, MOST CONNECTIONS MADE THROUGH YOUR TIME AT UNDERGROUND. WHO WERE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCERS?
AHMED: I learned a lot in the industry from Arturo Gomez and Benjamin Newby. I didn’t just get up and do it on my own, I had help. They were a significant part of that. I definitely wish them the best in anything because without them, I would be nothing, quite honestly, without them pointing me in the right direction.
HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CONNECTIONS YOU’VE MADE AND MAINTAIN THE RELATIONSHIPS?
AHMED: I try to be as sincere as possible with everyone I meet. It’s all about respect. I was raised that way by my mom. She always wanted to make people smile. She always wanted to make sure everybody felt respected so I try to do that with everybody I meet. It’s always genuine, it’s always a pleasure to meet you.
JORDAN: It’s not so much about reciprocity. It’s about just that genuine relationship. There are a lot of people that make it possible for us to be at Fashion Week in New York. We just do our best to take care of them.
AHMED: People know when you’re being genuine. It’s just good to know that people still want and love that. From most of those contacts, a lot of people are sincere back.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE DATING SCENE IN CHICAGO?
AHMED: It’s Chicago. You see the same people everywhere. The dating scene? I pretty much don’t handle it. You don’t want to rush into anything. Me personally, if I’m on a date, you won’t know. I’m not going to be in the hot spots. You and that person need to be able to sit down and talk without the interruptions from “Hey, what’s going on? How are you doing?” and that will happen, just in River North alone. I have a couple of spots I would go to where I want my privacy, I want my silence. I want to be able to get into that person.
JORDAN: Enjoy your dinner. If you like wine, enjoy your wine. [Laughs] As of now, nonexistent. We have a lot to focus on right now. I think I can speak for both of us on that. There’s not a lot of time and you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re going on dates and not even giving that person time. They might actually be looking for something and you’re just enjoying the food.
AHMED: There are a lot of people out there not to really date you but your persona. He knows me, I don’t care. I’m me regardless. I like to have fun. Sometimes I do forget people know me. So what if I want to throw champagne all over my face? Let me do that. [Laughs]
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO?
AHMED: Joe’s! I love steak. Jellyfish has great sushi!
WHY DO YOU TWO WORK WELL TOGETHER?
AHMED: Fashion Week did it for me! We felt like we were on the same wavelength. I’m a little more reserved, for New York. He’s more willing to push the boundaries.
JORDAN: We’re just always balancing. When he has to be answering e-mails right now, I’m the one that focuses.
AHMED: I’m always on my phone. Always.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO FROM YOU TWO?
JORDAN: Just look forward to a lot of great things coming. A lot of diversity in content. I think we may foray into doing our own events to shake things up a little bit.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR BEARD?
AHMED: I don’t actually! I just let it go crazy. The only thing I have my barber do is outline it. All of this is just God’s gift. I love my beard. I thank Andrew Henderson for doing a great job. He makes it easy for me to maintain.