Meet the class of 2015! This year’s male call, the first of Houston magazine’s second decade, includes 10 dapper dudes redefining debonair for a new era. From a rock guitarist pulling strings online to a rising-star chef who owes his future to his past—and from a bespoke Super Bowl champ to a new-breed Texas cattleman—these are the handsome faces of H-Town now.
The Mogul on the Move
Although he splits most of his time between Houston and New York, wealth-management guru Taseer Badar, 41, has a chic approach to style that’s all European. The 6-foot-3 CEO of ZT Wealth and Altus Health knows how to rock an Emporio Armani suit—accessorizing with simple but purposeful choices—in the boardroom and on the town. “I like to look at different runway shows and mix and match them myself,” he says. “Fashion is your own art. It sounds kind of cliche, but I think it just comes from within.”
Badar seems also to have mastered the art of the deal. In January, the Houston-reared corporate honcho inked an $80 million plan to add ZT Motors, which now manages four luxury car dealerships in Florida, to his portfolio. Noting the importance of pairing business-building with giving back, he and his Altus Foundation raised $175,000 a few months ago for financially challenged healthcare patients at his Toast to Living Well benefit.
When he’s not in the office, Badar passes the time with his wife, Zora, and four-year-old son, Daaniyal, at their homes in the Big Apple—they’re Yankee season ticket holders—and in Houston’s West U district. Construction of the family’s new manse in Memorial will conclude in July, which means Badar will have some packing and unpacking to do. Where to put all those Prada sneakers?
The American Dreamer
“I’ve always dreamed of being my own boss,” says Travis Weaver, 36, owner of year-old Manready Mercantile, a hip men’s shop in the Heights. Sure enough, these days the 6-foot-3 and ripplingly buff shopkeeper—yes, he works out—doesn’t take orders from anyone.
After working in outside sales for companies in his native central Texas, the born entrepreneur moved to H-Town in ’05. When he noticed that most apothecary items were marketed exclusively to women, he found his opening. He started making candles on his stovetop, pouring them into reusable highball glasses and selling them door-to-door. “I took things that weren’t normally thought of as for guys and rebranded them.” He even sold bath oils in whiskey bottles.
“I never had time to pump the breaks,” he says. “It just worked.” Today, Manready Mercantile carries the original line of products, and Weaver has added clothing, leatherwear and gifts—all made in the U.S. by small-scale, artisanal businesses. “I want people to know the maker’s name, where it’s from, that it was made ethically and that it’s supporting someone’s dream.”
Next up for the bachelor, camping enthusiast and proud owner of a Weimaraner called Dylilah is his own in-house clothing line, now on the drawing board. His own dream just keeps on coming true.
The Thin Man
In a former life, Houston was named at least once as “America’s fattest city.” We’re hipper, healthier and leaner these days, as evidenced by the rapid rise of Snap Kitchen, a healthy-takeout-food concept that’s grown to 23 locations in Houston and beyond in just five years. Scott McGee—a Dallas-reared exec with the company who’s been onboard since it opened its first location—thinks that’s pretty great.
“It really is rewarding to see our customers love the food, our stores, and to realize there really are great options out there for eating real, creative, healthy food,” says the husband and father of three.
Thirty-eight-year-old McGee, the director of operations, spends most of the day zipping from store to store, so when it comes to his work clothes, comfort is king. Think jeans and a Snap Kitchen-logo polo. When he dresses up, he channels David Beckham and George Clooney, in slim, understated suits.
Meanwhile, McGee’s future looks big—and skinny. His chain will grow to about 40 this year, including outposts in Chicago.
The Ring Leader
“I was always winning the best-dressed award in school,” says Ohio native Antwaun Molden, Houston’s newest purveyor of custom men’s suits. “It probably started in fifth or sixth grade.”
Indeed, Molden, 29, has always gone to great lengths to look good. A former NFL star, he had to win the Super Bowl to get his favorite ring! Having been drafted by the Texans in 2008 as a cornerback, he went on to play for the Jaguars and Patriots, the latter with which he won his prized bling in 2011.
Actually, his gridiron triumph had much more to do with hard work than sartorial splendor. “On the nights where everyone wanted to go out and have fun, I was about training and discipline,” he says. Nevertheless, the man does love to look good. And now Molden is making a business of it. Happily based in Houston again, he has launched his A & Clothier as a concierge service for customers Molden knows well—think 6-foot-4, 300-pound football stars who can’t buy off the rack. He plans to open to a larger clientele soon, offering bespoke suits crafted from luxe Italian wools that fit each individual perfectly.
“Dressing well rests on two pillars: color and proportion,” he says. “It’s imperative to understand what colors like a man’s eyes, hair and skin tone do to enhance your complexion and flatter your physique.” Spoken like a true clothier. Score!
The Good Doctor
Pediatrician Robert “Bobby” Ricketts, 30, went to sub-Saharan Africa for a year to work at a clinic for children living with HIV earlier in his career, never thinking his experiences there would earn him this new bullet point on his résumé: children’s book author. But it it did, and the Baltimore native’s newly published tome, Our Little Soldiers—designed to encourage HIV-positive children to take their medications regularly—is currently being distributed in clinics in six African nations after a successful Kickstarter campaign brought it to print. “Our hopes are that it educates and entertains our patients,” says the humble doc, who declined to put his name on the cover.
Although he’s been in Houston for four years, Rickett still describes himself as an East Coast guy at heart, who loves to sport a good biz-casual tweed jacket. “It’s a habit I picked up back north that I find tough to let go of,” he says. Because he’s broad-shouldered and muscular—he joined the “cult of CrossFit” after his sister made him “drink the Kool-Aid,” he says—Ricketts has a hard time shopping off the rack, which is why he says his best friend is his tailor.
What’s the next thing he’s adding to his closet? A tuxedo, which might come in handy at his upcoming wedding. He recently popped the question, and his Austin-based pediatric-dietician girlfriend said heck yeah.
The Wild Child
Gussying up his boyish good looks with slightly quirky but polished threads—think snug suits and antique brooches—Wild Moccasins guitarist and vocalist Cody Swann, 27, often looks like he just stepped off the set of a classic film noir. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Houston-reared rocker, whose indie-pop band toured alongside Of Montreal early last year following the release of the Moccasins’ third album, 88 92, looks to the past for sartorial direction. “I really like classic men’s fashion,” he says. “I love Jack Nicholson a la Chinatown, Marlon Brando, all those guys.”
The UH grad has been collecting his signature vintage brooches—he often wears them on vintage lapels—for years, scooping them up at secondhand shops Leopard Lounge and Retropolis, or while on the road at offbeat boutiques. “I love the idea of being able to associate a memory or recall the city where I purchased it,” he says.
When not on tour, Swann holds down an appropriately hip day job, handling social media for On the Mark Communications and the Menil Collection, whose benches have turned out to be the perfect spot for writing his song lyrics. “It’s something that just kind of hit me three years ago,” he says of having found his creative idyll. “I have about three volumes of stuff I’m looking to release soon.” Indeed, Wild Moccasins will start recording their fourth album this spring.
The Sky Scraper
This summer, the Gensler architecture firm tops off its 128-story Shanghai Tower at 2,073 feet, making it the tallest building in China. That’s about as far away as one can get from silver-haired architect Jim Furr’s hometown of Wisner, La., population 948. He’s come a long way, but that’s nothing new.
His first big leap was to Houston. “I came over [from Louisiana] to be in a wedding, and I decided this city looked a little more prosperous than Baton Rogue,” he jokes about his first trip to H-Town.
After moving here in 1970 and working his way up through several firms, the LSU alum joined Gensler’s Houston office as managing principal in 1994. Now 70, he has transitioned to principal emeritus. “I’ve gone from Gensler to geezer,” laughs the always self-deprecating Furr. Even so, he is still very much involved in the prestigious company, which has 46 offices in 16 countries, guiding what he calls the next generation of architects, one of which happens to be his son.
These days, Furr and his pretty wife, Jo, are building something even more important than buildings, heavily involved in philanthropic work for cultural organizations such as Houston Ballet and the Alley. And they cut a handsome figure doing so. “We influence each other in style,” he says. “She tells me when things look cool or boring.”
Even as an elder statesman of his field, he’s willing to evolve sartorially. “My square body has had to get used to the Italian cut,” he says. And that’s just about the only thing square about him.
The Soul Provider
Houston-raised chef Chris Williams’ first memory of cooking isn’t from his popular Museum District restaurant, Lucille’s, celebrated for modern takes on Southern classics. It’s from his grandma’s kitchen in Brenham, where he spent his summers as a kid. “We’d pick up stuff from the store,” he recalls, “and she’d make it fun.” After getting groceries, they’d return to her kitchen, turn on some jazz and start cooking her old recipes. The family tradition made a lasting impression, and he became a pro chef who cooks up his heritage every day; Lucille’s is even named after Williams’ great-grandmother, herself a restaurateur whose famous chili biscuits were popular in Lyndon Johnson’s White House.
After learning the real deal at Grandma’s apron strings, Williams went on to graduate from the Cordon Bleu in Austin and moved to Europe for four years. London made the biggest impact, not so much for its native fare but for its wonderful melting pot. “British food is simple,” he says. “The hottest thing about the scene was what everyone else was contributing to it.” Chefs from Kenya, Mexico via Spain, and India via South Africa all came to the table—literally. “You had all these flavors coming at you.”
Now it’s coming at you, at Lucille’s. “I love soul food, but it’s just the base,” he says. “At this point, I want to start playing with it. I want to turn it on its head.” So that explains why his menu’s fancied-up hot dog comes with “collared green kimchi.”
For his tasty efforts in bringing the world home to America, Williams has been selected to bring America to the world. He’ll visit Eastern Europe this summer as an official culinary ambassador of the United States. Wouldn’t Lucille be proud!
The Gold Star
Philanthropist and Olympic medalist Chad Hedrick’s path to gold proves the value of persistence and of being open to change. “It’s truly an anything-is-possible story,” he says.
With his parents having operated a roller skating rink since he was born, the Spring native practically learned to walk in roller skates. “It became second nature,” he says. By age 8, he was a national champ at inline speedskating, and by 15, he was traveling to competitions around the world.
After visiting more than 35 countries and winning nine world championships, Hedrick decided to go for Olympic glory. But he would not roll to gold. “I thought my dreams had been shot,” recalls the athlete of falling just short of the time required to join the U.S. team for the 1996 Atlanta games. Then he decided to put his dreams on ice—literally—and at age 26 he switched to speed ice skating. It may seem an odd choice for a guy from one of the warmest states in the union, but less than two years later, he won a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
Today, the 37-year-old husband and father of two has made another change, trading skates for dress shoes—Cole Haan loafers are his favorite because he shares the initials—and becoming a motivational speaker with clients like AT&T, Visa and Liberty Mutual. “I share my story of success and failure,” he says, “and I speak about what I have learned in the process.” He’s also a supporter of the Special Olympics, the Chad Hedrick Foundation having raised half a million dollars for the cause; in fact, he’ll host a fundraising golf tourney next month.
The Urbane Cowboy
Eighty inches tip-to-tip.
Impressed? You should be. That’s the measurement of an award-winning longhorn’s horn span, says Lane Craft, 27. “The longer the better.”
And he should know. Craft and his father breed longhorns on their ranch in Artesia Wells, producing some of the top cattle around. “We want to breed the biggest and best longhorns in the United States,” he says. “We want to be known as the best.”
Craft, who also works as an oilfield landman, has experience towering above the competition—living the storybook life of a Lone Star cattleman. He stands 6-foot-4, has a business degree from Texas State and even managed to land a beautiful, high-profile girlfriend, KHOU Channel 11 meteorologist Chita Johnson. The couple traveled to Oklahoma City last year for the Longhorn World Championship, where one of Craft’s heifers was voted the “Ultimate Longhorn Cow,” the highest honor in the industry.
He describes his style as laid-back and casual, but he ups his game when it comes to Johnson. “I try to always get Chita’s approval,” Craft says. “Some days she’s like, ‘You look so great,’ and some other days she’s like, ‘What is that?’”