“I believe in doing something that’s never been done before”
An artist’s vision for their work is often one that has a timetable of its own, an element that can not be planned, but simply revealed. For budding fashion stylist, Mike Hodges, the reveal of his work was on full display this past NFL season. As we look behind the seams of what drives the vision of Mike Hodges, his certainty in himself is clearly communicated. Swiftly into our conversation, I can tell Mike has a strong spirit, stating that, “I believe in doing something that’s never been done”.
In his first full NFL season as the stylist for Texans’ Kenny Stills and Ravens’ Tony Jefferson, Hodges’ approach was highly regarded. As he tells me about his journey, a humble tone of passion weaves through his voice. With every stitch he describes, a glimmer of dreams fulfilled dances through those words.
Fashion was something Mike naturally gravitated to from a young age. An artist finding his form, he studied color patterns as a toddler and often got lost in the garments of his mother’s closet. While you might say the design was written on the wall of Mike’s life, he didn’t take the traditional fashion school approach to this industry. Knowing that his vision was strong, Mike continued on his path of “going against the grain”.
When it comes to inspiration, architecture as well as women’s fashion have always been a foundation for his vision. “I lean heavily on women’s wear,” states Hodges. It’s his desire to break down the barrier between men’s and women’s fashion, and Hodges is adamant that “fashion is fashion”.A collection of Mike Hodges made designs is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and will inevitably be showcased in NFL and NBA tunnels to come.
For a stylist to be successful, there’s a layer of trust and understanding that lies at the base level of every client relationship. For Hodges, the trust with Stills is innate. Style partners aside, the two are best friends. But, it took years of Hodges preaching fashion confidence to Kenny for them to formally work together. Mike emphasizes, “believe me it took a long time for Kenny to get on board”. Yet, Hodges’ vision specifically for Kenny’s style was unwavering. He sees the opportunity for his clients to say it by styling it with personality driven fits that tell a story.
Kenny returned that trust earned and in doing so, was widely regarded as one of the best dressed players in the league. While there was no set theme going into the season for Kenny’s style, both player and stylist made a conscious effort to incorporate pieces from designers of color as often as possible; successfully doing so in 12 out of 17 weeks of the season.
Mike tells me, “there’s nothing we won’t attempt to do” and that that confidence is the accessory that is a necessity to all his fits. Still, I pressed Mike to reveal his favorite looks he styled this season, so low and behold, let’s go behind the seams of Mike Hodges’ top 5 looks for Kenny Stills in the 2019 NFL season…
To kick off the season of style for Kenny Stills, Mike worked with custom celebrity tailor, Richfresh. The self-taught tailor, who first picked up a needle at age 13, has an artist outlook to fashion that mirrors that of Hodges. Echoing Hodge’s preach of confidence to Kenny, Fresh’s approach to his custom fits is that they “are designed to make a person feel rich and fresh while wearing them”.
“Week 1 was our lights, camera, action moment. It was time to set the tone for the season. And to be able to share that moment with Fresh was special — that’s my guy, and whenever we cook up you can expect something crazy!”
Week two brought another Richfresh custom to the tunnel, but with a twist Hodges had envisioned for years. This piece has the beautiful ability to subtly shift the color pattern in the light. Set between the perfected clips of Fresh’s custom tailoring, the look as a whole has a certain indescribable ability to make your eyes dart in curiosity.
“This was probably my favorite look of the year! This was a concept I had been sitting on for a few years and to execute how we did it was insane. Everybody thought I was crazy when I kept telling them what I planned ( which is normal when I share my ideas) but there was no doubt in my mind he’d kill it. That pic walking out the hotel has GQ (or ProTrending) written all over it.”
Week 5 of the NFL brought a confident, cool vibe to the tunnel for Stills. In an Asos button up shirt, Keiser Clark jeans and Celine boots, Hodges states that Stills was “feeling himself this day.” “He had his poses and strut down pack when he hit that tunnel,” he exclaimed with a laugh. “This was right on the mark.”
Week 7 brought another custom Richfresh look to the tunnel, a calculated concept that Hodges states he’d been wanting to run with for a while. Looking to conceive a fly version of a fanny pack, Fresh made a custom piece that was attached to the plaid pants. “Fresh and I got together and do what we do best. You’ll see a lot more of those real soon.”
Week 13 was all about primetime fresh for Hodges and Stills. Turning to Hilton Turner, who’s known for intricate details, Hodges and Hilton contrived another statement piece in this hunter green belted suit. “It was primetime so we had no choice but to go off. S/O my guy Hilton — he’s been doing his thing.”
While many desire to Style Like A Pro, what Mike Hodges can remind us, is that style, as always, pairs perfect with an unspoken confidence and a self-reflective story.