By J.P. Anderson By J.P. Anderson | September 21, 2022 | People Lifestyle
These successful Chicago gents prove that success also comes with an eye on the art of fashion.
Founder, il Fratellino
Zak Rodriguez has some seriously stylish genes: The Chicago native’s brother, Brian Atwood, is a global force in the footwear industry for his uberglam designs, which are a red-carpet staple for countless A-list fashionistas. Now, Rodriguez—an established player in fashion editorial and marketing—has joined forces with Atwood to create il Fratellino, a just-launched new shoe line featuring limited-edition drops aimed at a younger, Gen Z audience. (The first drop features mules, sandals, booties and sneakers; look for high platforms and sexy stilettos next.) The partnership may be new, but it’s rooted in a long-standing family bond. Notes Rodriguez of his earliest fashion memory, “When I was about 10, I remember sitting at our dining room table with [Brian] coloring in copies of his sketches when he was launching his first shoe line. My mom actually surprised me with a photo of us sketching recently. Twenty years later, my brother looks exactly the same. I, fortunately, do not.” The Old Town resident cites Timothée Chalamet and Shawn Mendes as his current style icons of choice (“always dependable for great slim-cut style”), and mentions a great suit as a fashion essential, reminiscing, “My fave was a shiny emerald slim-cut suit from Topman. I nearly wept when it was lost at the dry cleaners.” Of course, shoes are top of mind these days for Rodriguez, and he has some clear favorites: “For myself? My black Prada Chelsea boots. For all the women in my life? Obviously il Fratellino boots.”
Director of Social Catering, The Langham, Chicago
Looking sharp is part of the job for Shaun Rajah, a veteran of the hospitality industry whose position as the recently named director of social catering for the luxe Langham, Chicago means that making a fashionable first impression is crucial to his success every day. Not to worry: The Kuala Lumpur émigré and Uptown resident comes naturally to his passion for style—indeed, one of Rajah’s early memories is wearing a kilt in preschool as part of a choral performance. “It had to be the perfect fit, and I insisted on the perfect shoes to bring the whole outfit together.” These days, you’ll find Rajah wearing favorite brands like Louis Vuitton (“I still have a tote bag purchased in San Francisco in 2009, and it still looks as good as the day I purchased it”), Bottega Veneta and—a favorite of Harry Styles, one of Rajah’s style icons—Gucci (“Alessandro Michele is really hitting it out of the park right now”). Ultimately, though, for Rajah, style isn’t about labels. He notes, “My most essential fashion pieces are accessories that are not any well-known brands, but memories. Often, essential pieces are more important to the wearer and how they make you feel more than how others see them.”
Founder, Marc Nolan
When it comes to developing a keen sense of style, there’s nothing like a maternal influence. That’s certainly the case with Chicago gent Sebastian Malczewski: Growing up in Poland, he learned from his fashion-loving mother and grandmother just how impactful it can be to dress well and with an attention to detail, a lesson he brought with him as he immigrated to the U.S. in 2000, settling in Chicago. Now, as the founder of Windy City-based men’s footwear brand Marc Nolan—which is set to open a West Loop outpost in late September—Malczewski’s sartorial skills are on full display. Noting that Idris Elba is his personal style icon, the dapper Palos Park resident lists Virgil Abloh, Ronnie Fieg and Jerry Lorenzo as his fave designers. The first luxury item of clothing he recalls splurging on was Dolce & Gabbana denim; as for his last splurge, “I recently bought a BMW M4 Competition and I love it.” His preferred shopping destinations? Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue is “the perfect mix of everything you need,” adding, “I’ve always loved the Soho vibe in New York and have loved seeing the West Loop become more of a popular destination for retail and shopping; now, Marc Nolan will be joining that area, and we are so excited.”
Founder, Galán Personal Styling
Gold Coast resident David Murga has long been known as a dashing presence on Chicago’s society scene—and for his sterling PR work on behalf of A-list clients like Kehoe Designs and 900 North Michigan Shops. Now, the Rock Island native and recent Chicago Men’s Fashion Award recipient has started a stylish new chapter as the founder of Galán Personal Styling, a just-launched, by-appointment-only styling service whose name, Spanish for “a handsome, well-dressed, chivalrous man,” honors Murga’s own Mexican heritage. The dapper entrepreneur’s earliest style memory? “Watching my dad get ready for a special occasion,” says Murga. “The fitted suit and freshly pressed shirt would be hanging on the valet, with complementary tie and pocket square lying on the dresser—the whole look anchored by a pair of shoes shined so bright his former drill sergeant would have approved.” Noting that his favorite designers are Hermès, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, Murga names model Jon Kortajarena as his style icon. “He has a rugged, cowboy-like quality, and at times [an] irreverent, editorial vibe about him. It looks like he has fun with fashion and doesn’t take himself too seriously.” Whether it’s with a great pair of jeans (“From classic Levi’s to Rag & Bone, the right cut and wash can give the look and feel of custom made”) or a snazzy pair of navy blue Ferragamo loafers (his most recent splurge), Murga is clearly having plenty of fun with fashion himself these days too. As he sets his sights on helping his fellow Chicago men elevate their own personal style, we know we’ll be watching—and expecting serious sartorial success.
Photography by: FROM TOP, PHOTOS: BY HAROL BAEZ; BY COLIN LYONS PHOTOGRAPHY; COURTESY OF MARC NOLAN; BY VIBE TRIBE CREATIVE