On 2011’s “No Church in the Wild,” Jay Z raps about a cocaine white Rolls Royce, “drug dealer chic.” Yesterday, he and G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T dropped their latest single, “Drug Dealers Anonymous,” that will be on Push’s forthcoming album. It’s no secret that Push very well could be the king of coke rap, so maintaining a look that doesn’t abandon his own personal style, but is good enough for the president of G.O.O.D. Music, adidas collaborator, and OG in the game is important. To help him get there, meet Marcus Paul, the man behind Pusha’s style.
With an impressive list of clients—including Lebron James, Jay Z, and C.C. Sabathia—Paul tells us his business has grown solely through word of mouth and the strong rapport he has with his clients beyond just improving their closets. “Every client I’ve worked with, I try to build a relationship with them, because it’s not only a professional relationship, but also a personal one, and I think that that’s important,” he says. Paul strives to show his level of dedication and immersion beyond picking the right belt or sneaker. Clothing helps his clients play the part of the well put-together celebrity who is ready to go at all times. “They’re extremely tired, but they’ve still got to put on that mask of, ‘Yo, I’m an artist, I’ve got to smile, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.’ It’s important, and I admire that,” he adds. This level of connection has served him well as he continues to add new names to his clientele list, including those he says he is not yet at liberty to share, but excited to hint toward. “Let’s just say, they have some things that are out already that are making waves,” he says about two of his recent acquisitions.
One person he can speak about, however, is King Push, who Paul has worked with for over six years. The two first joined forces shortly after Pusha’s post-Clipse solo debut alongside Kanye West at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. It may seem that hiring someone like Paul with a more refined personal taste, would be a no-brainer for Pusha. Paul’s favorite designer is Dries Van Noten, and he has an obsession for classic sneakers like Stan Smiths and the Air Max 1. That eye for classic style is especially valuable when you’re standing next to the fashion godfather Kanye West, who spends a lot of time thinking about this wardrobe and is the target of scrutiny from everyone. None of that is to discredit Pusha’s bold personal style in the slightest though, as we cannot forget his signature cornrows and marble-sized diamond studs from his “Grindin”-era days as one half of the Clipse; he was also one of the very first to don the all-over Bape camo print alongside his brother Malice. Paul works with Pusha to refine that sense of style and keep him on the cutting edge. For his most recent tour, the two collaborated on a wardrobe of exclusives pieces from several brands, including a Ports 1961 gladiator belt and bulletproof-style vest.
It is easy to imagine the influence stylists like Marcus have on the sartorial choices of the masses, as the clients they work with are often seen as fashion’s guiding lights for all that follow them. Paul is sure to not exaggerate his reach. “The true influencers are the clients, but it’s the stylist’s job to collaborate and work with the client and curate and enhance their image. Music artists have always influenced the masses—David Bowie to Biggie and so forth. That’s how it has always been.” Paul can take partial credit in making sure that the designers who have his attention are at least considered when working with clients, adding newcomers like Gosha Rubchinskiy and Craig Green to his clients’ closets.
Though he cops to being fond of oversized silhouettes that show up across street style blogs, referencing the re-emergence of archival collections from Helmut Lang and Margiela, Marcus purposely does not delve too deeply into trends. “I try not to follow trends, man. I just go based off of my intuition and what I like,” he says. “I try to avoid watching certain media, because there are things that are like pushed on you, and you don’t ever want that to influence your creativity.” He continues, “It’s an instinct. Fashion is an emotion, so if I see something, I like it just because of what it is, not because this is the hot thing right now. In fact, I try to stay away from what a lot of people are going to.”
It may be this thought process, coupled with his bigger-picture business practices that solidified Mr. Paul in this space. Along the way, it hasn’t hurt that he has made friends with the right people. He emphasizes, “Some connections just open [things] up. You have access. It makes a difference in this world in general, no matter what field you’re in.” Looking to the future, Paul hopes to venture into doing larger scale projects, such as wardrobe styling for films. Whether he makes the jump to movies or not, it’s clear that Marcus Paul’s own path to success may not be so different from the trajectories of the men he dresses.