The Lyfe: Who is Melvin Styles? How would you describe yourself?
Melvin: I am just a kid from Philly. I come from a huge family. My mom has three brothers and five sisters. My dad has five brothers and three sisters. I was always into fashion. I am a very loving and happy and inviting person. To know me is to love me.
The Lyfe: How was Melvin Styles born?
Melvin: My real name is Melvin Sanders, actually Melvin Lee Sanders, Jr. I am named after my father. When social media became big I needed to be recognizable. The original Instagram name I had was too confusing. My PR team suggested that I change it because I am an influencer and people need to get to me directly. Because of that I just came up with Melvin Styles.
I figured I’m Melvin and I style so that became a thing… literally a thing. It turned me into somebody different. It was similar to how Beyoncé says she’s Sasha Fierce. With me, you have Melvin Sanders and then Melvin Styles, two different people.
It manifested a whole lot of things that I really am. I appreciate the name and that I did that because it helped my business. It helped my brand by giving me brand recognition. It became something that I never believed it could be. I just knew I had to simplify my Instagram name and make it easy. That slight change took me to another level. This one girl I bumped into is on Instagram using Styles also. She said I started the whole Styles family.
She said, “You were the first person to use Styles. Everybody does their name after you. Because of you, there’s this Styles and that Styles.”
I’m like, oh my, that is a huge compliment. It just became its own thing. One time the credits rolled on a TV show I worked on. I screenshotted it and sent it to my mom. My mom said, “Melvin, Jr.,”—she calls me Melvin, Jr.—“your name is not Melvin Styles. They need to get it right!” I said, “Mom, everybody knows me as Melvin Styles.”
The Lyfe: When I look at your fashions, they are bold, beautiful, and original. Looking at how you put things together along with the set and background, how would you describe your style?
Melvin: My style is forward-thinking. When I am thinking of fashion or when I think of styling, I am thinking of what is in the now but what is also ahead. How can we make this forward? How can we push this look forward? How can this look not be dated? When I think of my fashion, I think I am doing something forward. Am I doing something that other stylists are looking at and saying, “Wow, I could do that.” When I look at the big stylist like La Roche or Carlene Carter, I look at their stuff and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I think that people look at my stuff and they think of it as forward.
The Lyfe: Where does your inspiration come from?
Melvin: It’s always passion. I also would like to think that I am one of those people who puts things out into the universe and it comes back to me. So it really has to sit. For example, the other day my friend recommended somebody to me. I was all for it. I had to decline because it was such short notice (she wanted me the next day). Also, it would have been my first time working with this client and she wanted me to give three looks. I did meet with her and she is a gorgeous lady. You want to make sure that you do them correctly. With the time given and not knowing the client plus considering her needs, I had to decline.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to rush into things. I’m not that kind of stylist. I am passionate. I have to have a passion for what I’m doing. I have to be visually into it. For me, it has to go a certain way. I am really picky about who I work with.
If I feel like I want to work with you, we’re going to work together. If I want to work with you, then I’m going to work with you. It’s really about me being passionate about the person or the project. It’s never about money. Of course, I want to make tons of money. I want to be rich beyond wealthy. I want to take care of my family. I want to do all of those things. But I also want to make sure that I am happy with what I am doing while making this money.
The Lyfe: You have a sexy appeal to your clothing whether it’s a peek-a-boo top or dressed from head to toe. Where do you get your pieces?
Melvin: I collaborate with designers. There is a photo I did with Mimi from Love & Hip Hop that I collaborated on with Carlos Antoine. Carlos is young and amazing. He is one of the most talented designers I have worked with. Just to sit with him, to see him create, he is beyond amazing. I always try to suggest projects to him. If I cannot do it and, even though he is not a stylist, I still recommend him.
I have collaborated with designers like him on ideas to put together. For the most part, research, showrooms, and online. If I’ve done something from the past, I tried to look online to see if I can find something similar but it’s really just research.
When I wake up in the morning, before I do anything, I am researching. I research at least two hours in the morning before I get up. I want to see what’s going on. I go to all my favorite sites and favorite fashion magazines. I check out fashion Instagram accounts to see what’s out.
Because I am on a different time from people in New York and the East Coast, they are posting different things. Thorough research is where I find my pieces and inspiration. That’s the thing about styling, stylists need to research. They need to research. They need to know where to get the pieces. They need to know how to get the pieces, so it’s all about research.
The Lyfe: As Melvin Styles, the fashion-forward designer, what are your top three influences?
Melvin: I love art. Because I struggle, art is a major part of my work. I live on the West Coast but I am from the East Coast. In Philly and New York, they are more into neutrals, blacks, and grays. When I moved to Atlanta, I struggled with color. Art became a major part of my life because there is a lot of color in art. I literally had to study color. Even to this day, I am funny when it comes to color. Color can really go one way or the other, so art is one major influence.
I am influenced by furniture and how it’s designed. I love to look at a room and think, “How can I put this as an outfit?” I looked at my ex-boyfriend’s place. It was decorated so chic. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I have to figure something out.” I took a picture of it and I did an outfit out of it. I sent it to him and he said, “Wow, that’s my living room.” So art, décor, and then women. I love women. When I see women of all shapes and sizes in their beauty, they inspire me. Women have always been my toys. I mean, for example, when you’re a kid and you have your toys and this may sound terrible but for me, women are my toys. I just love to play with women. My mom will tell you I will play with her. I would comb her hair. I would even comb my sister’s hair. I would make her do gymnastics with me. I love women. I’m infatuated with the idea of a woman. Women, furniture, and art are my major influences when it comes to fashion.
The Lyfe: What does a Melvin Styles morning look like?
Melvin: I love breakfast, so I make myself breakfast every day. I am really big on cooking. Cooking is another passion of mine. My food is another way I play with color. You know they say you have to add color to your food. Breakfast puts me in the mood. That’s it, I am always about fashion so I’m always in the mood for it. Either I like that or I don’t. I’m always in the Melvin Styles mode from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed.
There are times when some people don’t see me as a stylist. For example, this intern at my store said I didn’t look like a stylist. I had to show her Melvin Styles.
I will never forget it. One day, I walked into the store and she said, “I get it.” I said, “Yes.” I knew exactly what she was talking about. She rubbed me the wrong way when she said I didn’t look like a stylist. I don’t know what she thought a stylist should look like.
I’m not one who always gets dressed up. Now, dressing someone else up all the time? Yes. I want to be comfortable I do not want to have to deal with the whole getting dressed. I did that already. I put my time in with the dressing up. I am known in Philadelphia for being one of the best-dressed people. All this stuff the kids are wearing right now, I did that already. You know what I’m saying. I love it but I did it already. She saw that and she realized she was wrong.
Today, I am a different person. I don’t need to dress to impress anyone anymore, but I can. It’s just that I don’t need to do it every day anymore. I do not even feel comfortable doing it every day anymore.
Back when I was younger, I didn’t have bills. I didn’t have the mindset of saving money. I just spent my money on a Dolce Gabbana shirt. That was my whole check, $300. I get a $300 check, I’m buying a shirt.
Today, I am always in the fashion zone. It’s my way of life. It’s the way I eat. When I wake up, I live fashion all day. I’m on Instagram. I’m looking at anything that’s fashion unless somebody sends me something that’s funny. Other than that, it’s all about fashion.