Men’s Fashion

Elements of Style: Instagram Edition

In a city where women’s fashion prevails, a young upstart aims to make room for the guys.

By Sydney Lopez June 2, 2014 Published in the June 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

0614 elements of style berlin nicholas instagram zhnnfs
Berlin Nicholas is a hero among dapper men.

Image: Felix Sanchez

When Berlin Nicholas asked me to go on a “walk” through Montrose with his friends—all of whom, like Nicholas, have found microfame on Instagram—I had no idea what I was in for. In Instagram-ese, walk apparently means “photo shoot”; by the time we were done, five hours later, we’d taken perhaps 200 photos and traversed half a mile. At the end of the day, and with no small amount of consideration over which filters to employ, Nicholas deemed just three of those shots worthy of his 900 followers. 

It seems that obsessive curation pays off: thanks in no small part to social media, Nicholas has become a figure around whom the city’s dapper young men tend to congregate. Under the brand By-Us, he has shot look books for Zanerobe, modeled for PF Flyers and Billy Reid, and consulted on ad campaigns for Vespa. Meanwhile, he pays the bills as a manager at Club Monaco in the Galleria. He also leads the Houston Collective, a group of guys who organize hugely popular, fashion-focused meet-ups. Their first event, held last November and organized in just two weeks, drew hundreds to the über-cool barbershop Cutthroat; their second did the same at the Rice Village–based men’s store The Class Room. If you missed those, worry not; more meet-ups are in the works, and you can bet that all of them will be heavily documented. 

What are you wearing? 

Club Monaco denim button-down shirt, Norse Projects T-shirt, Baldwin jeans, Nike sneakers

Tell us about starting The Houston Collective. 

Women always have their thing. Wasn’t there a fashion thing last night? I was like, Where does this stuff come from? You know what I mean? There’s nothing like that for men, ever. We don’t want to see women’s BCBG. We want to see the brands we love—Margiela, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Rogue Territory, Norse Projects.

That’s the whole point behind the collective, to just bring the people of Houston who are doing something together to build a fashion community. Like women, I know that they love the fashion shows, but I’m pretty sure that they love seeing each other and just hanging out and catching up. We kinda love it too. 

Were you into fashion at a young age?

No, not really. Growing up, we didn’t have much to be able to splurge on clothes, so I just had a few pieces, which meant that I had to be creative and had to take care of them. I am the same way now; I take care of everything and try to make it all last. I guess that this is how I subconsciously became a minimalist, because I try to find quality pieces that I can wear year-round.

Whose style do you admire most?

Sammy Davis Jr.’s. He was always so put together and fresh, and he didn’t get too much attention. That guy was flying under the radar but still cool.

What advice do you have for men just starting to take an interest in fashion?

I always try to tell guys that ask how to become more fashionable to just wear three colors. Put a nice pair of blue jeans on, maybe a red shirt, or another tone of blue, and a gray shoe. And it works.

Tell us about your beard.

I have a love/hate relationship with it. I grew it out for five months and I kept getting these James Harden comments. People ask for autographs. Once, I was in Blacksmith just hanging out and this guy walked up and said, “I’ve seen you before, I don’t know where, but you’re on that billboard on the George R. Brown Convention Center, right?” I look nothing like James Harden. 

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