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Suit Designer Davidson Petit-Frère Teaches Us The Art Of Being A Gentleman

The man behind all of our favorite Omari 'Power' suits

#xoMan

When Davidson Petit-Frère steps into the room, it's all eyes on him.


Everything about his look is a reflection of who he is and what he values. Nicely fitted blazer? He's willing to spend a little extra for that perfect fit. Pressed pants, slightly loose but not young man low? He's patient enough to iron out the wrinkles, and mature enough to understand the importance of keeping it above the waistline. Tastefully polished shoes? He's aware that even the smallest details can make or break a carefully selected suit.

He's a man's man—one who knows what he likes and isn't afraid to go after it. The 26-year-old fashion designer and co-founder of Musika Frère has dressed everyone from Jay-Z to Omari Hardwick in his European-inspired threads, and his designs have been seen on runways at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and on the backs of celebrities stylin' on the red carpet.

Not too shabby for a kid from Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Fashion wasn't always his business, but he's always been about his business. At 18, he chose to forgo spending six figures attending a four-year college to earning six figures pursuing a career in real estate. Selling luxury homes became the catalyst to his career in fashion. Having a baby face made it difficult for him to be taken seriously by clients, so he ditched the polos, khakis and square-toed shoes and flipped through the pages of GQ to craft a more cultured look—one that would separate him from the masses and give him a little credibility. But at a slim 6'4, he couldn't just shop anywhere; so he broke out his sketchpad, created styles to fit his frame, and found tailors to bring his designs to life.

Looking for ways to share his designs, he hopped on the social media bandwagon and began showcasing his portfolio of colorful outfits on Instagram and quickly garnered a large following. By this time he was three years deep into real estate, but found that the money wasn't worth sacrificing his happiness, and instead turned his full attention to fashion. He reached out to his tailor for an apprenticeship, and after six months launched his first brand P.Frère. Soon he was receiving requests for his custom suits from celebrities and other notables working in the entertainment industry, but the product wasn't quite at the level where he wanted it to be. Using his large following as leverage, he approached his tailors with the idea of partnering for a brand. They turned him down.

“I remember the day I left the meeting, they told me 'you'll be out of business in six months. You're a 21-year-old kid and your head is all blown up with Instagram and you think you can succeed.'"

"Adversity drives me more, so I left very confident."

Taking his real estate savings, business contacts, and devoted Instagram followers, the young boss connected with business partner Aleks Musika in Miami, and found an investor to fund the brand Musika Frère.

Two years in the game, and Petit-Frère shows no signs of slowing down. He's now garnered over 144,000 followers—including an extensive list of celebrity clientele—and travels the world doing the one thing that he's truly passionate about—fashion.

Looking to snag this xoMan? Well, you'll have to do more than sliding into his DMs and telling him that he's sexy. He already knows that. I spoke with Petit-Frère about the kind of woman that gets his attention, lessons life has taught him, and how he plans to build his legacy.

Being that you were already a businessman by the time you were 18, I'm sure you've had more than enough experiences that have impacted the way you move in life. What have you learned thus far that has shaped who you are today?

In terms of life, just integrity and how to be a good man and businessman, you can't put all of your eggs in one basket. I've learned that you can't trust everyone, because everyone's intentions are not to see you do well. My philosophy now is to be very aware of your surroundings in terms of whom you're around and what you do. For instance, I drink here and there, but I don't do anything to myself that's going to put my in a bad light because my image is everything now. Be honest in business, and never let any type of accomplishment get to your head. People don't' know that I'm the most humble, down to earth guy. I still have friends where I was from in Brooklyn that I'm cool with. I'm never going to shy away from where I came from. I'm never going to be that guy who's fake now because I'm this type of guy. I never want to them to think that I'm someone who's a bourgeois guy or a fake guy because I'm still a 25-year-old growing man. I'm still learning everyday. I'm not going to sit here and say I've learned every life lesson in life because I haven't. I can't predict the future so I have to pretty much live everyday embracing life because all I have is me. I'm still going to make mistakes. I'm not perfect.

"Be honest in business, and never let any type of accomplishment get to your head."

So you live a busy lifestyle between running your business and traveling all over the world, what do you do for fun?

I like to work out, cook, and read.

Oh?! What are you cooking?

Oh, you tell me! I have the best teacher in the world, my mother. I've been living alone since I was 18, so I kind of had to adapt to life being single [in New York City], and if I had a girl I may cook for her. I'm not cocky or conceited, but you give me a recipe and I'll make it for you.

Dinner at your house then (laughs). You mentioned dating is hard for you being a successful entrepreneur in the fashion industry, so what type of women do you normally go for? Who would be your #WCW?

I like girls who are career-oriented and who have their head on their shoulders. You don't have to be a CEO, you can be working at Staples, but as long as you know what the hell you're going to do [in life]. You know, someone who's driven and motivated. What's more sexy to me is a girl who likes to work. I want a girl who will make me work harder. I hate bringing this into the scenario, but I want my Beyoncé. I'm stronger with you than apart, so I'm going to do everything that I can to love you and to make sure that you're happy. I don't want a sit-at-home wife. I don't want a girl that I marry and you stay home and take care of the kids. I'm going to feel some type of way because both my parents were hard workers, so it's hard for me to be around anyone lazy. I also like to go for girls who have respect [for themselves], and who know what they bring to the table.

Well, you definitely know what you want! What would be your ideal date if a girl were to surprise you?

This is tough…I wouldn't mind just going and walking down Madison Ave. and just talking about life and fashion, you know, something simple. I feel like that's just me. I don't have a fantasy date; I can do anything. I can go to Chipotle or Burger King, as long as we're having good conversation and we're enjoying each other's company. I've had dates in Starbucks before. I can go to France or Abu Dhabi—have a date anywhere. Just show me a good time, and I'll have fun with you.

Being a fashion designer, do you want a girl to dress up if she's going to some place simple like the movies?

Not at all. If we're going to the movies, wear sweats. I just want a girl with her own personal style. When a girl knows what she likes, that's sexy to me. We can learn together. You might tell me, 'I don't like this coat on you and I'd be like oh wow you're right.' You might tell me something that I might not like, but you can learn from me too. That's just how I look at life.

What are some signs that a guy is a true gentleman?

Respect and how you treat a lady. If you've ever walked around with a girl who's comfortable in a thong when you guys are walking down the block in Miami, it shows you have no type of respect for yourself. You don't have to show your body just to have some type of acceptance in the world. For me, I just feel being respectful to a female is what she wants. She wants to feel like your all. Don't degrade women. Just uplift her, make her feel like she's the only thing like outside of family, like she's god. The ground that she walks on, you have to kiss it every time that she walks because you love her that much. I'm a hopeless romantic. I've had girlfriends that I cook dinner for, and I love surprises. I love bringing you flowers to work and showing your friends that I'm a good man and that I appreciate you.

"Being respectful to a female is what she wants. She wants to feel like your all."

What's a lesson that your mom taught you about women?

She told me to treat every girl like you'd treat me. You have to treat your best friends and your girl like your mother. I would never curse a woman; I would never put my hands on a woman, or disrespect a female because I would never do that to my mother. Don't do what you don't want done to yourself. You call a girl a b*tch, you don't know what type of emotional damage you can do to a female because in the world we live in now suicide is a real thing, so I would never put my hands on a female, I'd rather walk away.

What are some turnoffs for you with women?

A relationship is not a job interview. If you like me, then say you like me and let's rock. But if you want me to chase you while you are giving me the runaround, then listen, you can go to the other guys. Because girls who do that run the risk of being single for the rest of their lives, because a guy is not going to waste his time. He'll be like, I'll go and treat somebody else better with a girl who actually appreciates it instead of you just wanting me to text you everyday, chase you, call you. Why can't you call me as well? Why does it always have to be that a man has to chase a woman? I hate the stigma. I think it's the dumbest thing in the world. Like all of my [female] friends are like I'd never ask a man out. Why? He might like you but might not know how to approach you. Don't ever put your ego and say you're never going to ask a guy out. I think that's the problem now, people think that they're too good to ask a man out. I've had so many friends who are beautiful girls and I tell them if you like that guy just go up to him.

That's real. So what are you reading?

I read a lot about fashion. I love learning the business and the industry—a lot of autobiographies and documentaries. My big idol is Ozwald Boateng, he was the first black tailor on Savile Row [in England]. he started at 23, and now he's 45. A great documentary to watch is A Man's Story, where he documented his life from 1998 to 2013. It shows the growth of him. He was ahead of his time; he was 6'4 or 6'5 black man who loved color like me.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be a hardworking individual who did what he loved. I want people to appreciate the work that I do, and express how I feel about the world and how I feel about fashion through the clothes that I design. I want people to appreciate that. There are things that I want to do outside of fashion, like charity work. I'm Haitian, so I want to go back and give back to my country. I'm not doing this to be famous or rich, but because I love this. I wake up everyday with ideas like, oh this zipper would look great with this jacket or this fabric would look great. I can't sleep at night because I wake up sometimes to sketch. I'll have a dream like, that's a dope color combination. Just bringing in imagination and making it a reality.

Featured image by @davidson_frere

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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