Meet the class of 2016. these sartorial superlatives—from an NBA badass in a very tall order of a custom suit to a window-washing entrepreneur in a killer kilt—know how to pair personalized fashion sense with serious substance, redefining masculinity for their moment. They are the keepers of cool in America’s hottest city.
The Steady Hand
As a college student on a football scholarship studying statistics, Jonathan Bullock, now 29, wouldn’t have guessed professional modeling was in the cards for his future. He’d have more likely hedged his bets on becoming a professional poker player. As the odds would have it, however, he ended up doing both.
An accomplished athlete with great bone structure and a tall frame—he plays basketball too—he was a natural for modeling. Page Parkes discovered him four years ago, and he’s been hitting runways around town since—and doing shoots for the likes of Nike and Academy Sports + Outdoors. “I love the flexibility of my schedule,” he says. “I get to work and play all over the country.”
For Bullock, playing means cards, a passion of his since his teen years. “A high school friend’s grandfather was a poker player and he taught us,” he says. “My friends and I used to play at the kitchen counter for $20. We’d stay up all night, and we’d be exhausted at school the next day.” Now, he’s clearing tables across the country.
“Aria in Vegas is my favorite,” he adds, noting that the casino staffers there have become good buddies.
It certainly can’t be said that this gambler doesn’t know when to hold ’em. He also recently proposed to his girlfriend while on vacation in the Caribbean, and she said yes. Success, he says, smiling, “is translating into all parts of my life.”
Tony Bradfield & Kevin Black
To those familiar with Tenenbaum Classic Jewelers and the renown of its owners—biz and life partners Tony Bradfield, 46, and Kevin Black, 44, who turn up at the top tables of almost every A-list gala—it may come as a surprise that as recently as 2010, they were a San Antonio real estate developer and a New York oral surgeon for the U.S. Air Force, respectively. What a difference six years can make.
Bradfield, who got interested in estate jewelry as a hobbyist, jumped at the chance to buy the company from the internationally respected Tenenbaum family. He and Black, who has three kids from a previous relationship, including one at Baylor, also relished the idea of aggressively growing their business, alongside their reputations for philanthropy. Their donations of five-figure jewels have helped the Opera, UNICEF and other groups exceed fundraising expectations—and earned the couple boldface status in the social pages.
“Houston has been extremely responsive,” says Bradfield. “We’re gay, we’re a couple and most other cities would have a hesitation about that, even if you’re writing checks. I’ve never known a city more open and welcoming.” And so they’re doubling down on H-Town: A huge new Tenenbaum flagship will open at 4310 Westheimer Rd. this fall, as their new in-store boutique at Tootsies takes off; they’ve also merged with Bellaire jeweler Queen of Heirs and are looking for other partners.
Luckily, looking the part of retail titans and socialites comes easy to the duo. Both say they’re just as comfortable in tuxedos as gym clothes. And, naturally, neither would be caught dead without a nice watch. Says Black, “It’s one of the only real signature accessories that a guy can wear.”
Immersive theater is having a moment in Houston, and actor Matt Hune, 31, has found a way to tap into the movement without leaving his Montrose town house. However, it is making the home, which he shares with his printmaker wife Alex Schwenke, a little crowded.
The lifelong Houstonian turned his den into a perfomance space where he stages intimate, sold-out plays for groups of 20. “I called it the Living Room Series,” he says. “The idea came from a practical need for cheap space, but as the project progressed, it became an experiment in making the action happen right there, so people felt like they were in the room,” he says. “Theaters are finding innovative new ways of existing, and that’s fun to be a part of.”
While the HSPVA acting teacher and graduate of Chicago’s DePaul was able to eliminate his overhead and spend his budget on artists and sets, staging plays in one’s home comes at a different price—one’s sanity. “It’s horrible,” says Hune with a chuckle, “and that’s why I’m moving it.” He’s planning a new—also small—theater space in the new Silos at Sawyer Yards soon.
Hune, who just completed a run in another local theater company’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is used to taking risks on stage. In fact, his first job in Houston after moving back home from the Windy City in 2010 was a Houston Grand Opera role that included two extended nude scenes. But when it comes to his wardrobe, he plays it safe and keeps it simple—skinny jeans with colorful sneakers and, often, just a plain white tee straight from the package. Channeling James Dean? “Well, I like to mix classic with something new.”
Bob Cavnar, 63, might just be one of the most interesting men in the world—hands down in Houston, which the Fort Worth native has called home for two decades. Besides having spent more than 40 years in the oil and gas industry—as a “serial investor,” he says—he’s written a book on the BP oil spill; co-founded the Michelle Obama-endorsed nutrition-in-schools Recipe for Success nonprofit with his wife, Gracie; and occasionally appeared on national TV as a liberal-leaning political pundit. But what’s his most intriguing enterprise? It wouldn’t be skirting the issue to say his new cleaning service, comprised only of men in kilts.
Cavnar’s been rocking kilts at black-tie events for years, so he was tantalized by the opportunity to bring Men in Kilts, which was founded in Canada, to Texas. Everybody wins. His employees, mostly military veterans, can stay nice and cool, even in the hottest months of summer. And the customer gets a bit of leg.
The entrepreneur, who’s also considered opening a brewery, trusts Scottish designer Howie Nicholsby for his kilts. An all-grown-up former rock ’n’ roller, Cavnar is also partial to black Tom Ford suits, black John Varvatos boots and black-diamond skull rings by David Yurman.
His guys at the cleaning service also have some sartorial panache. In addition to the kilts, the cleaners wear T-shirts admonishing “No Peeking!” as they pressure wash driveways, scrub windows, polish chandeliers and keep swimming pools sparkling. At what can’t we peek? “We never answer that question,” says Cavnar with a wink.
The Center of the Universe
When a knee injury kept Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard out of uniform for two months last year, fans got a nightly glimpse into the big man’s capacious closet. One game, the eight-time NBA All-Star would show up in a tailored muted-pink sport coat complemented by a matching navy tie and pocket square; the next, he’d rock a bow tie and vest ensemble. Even during his team’s exciting playoff run, Howard’s wide array of suit choices were a hot topic. “I feel like I can take on the world in a great-looking suit that’s custom-fit to my physique,” Howard says. “Something about the tailored, European cut makes me feel really fit and confident.”
Off-the-rack isn’t much of an option for the 6’11” muscle man who once donned a Superman costume on his way to winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. “Everything has to be made, but I have fun with it. I sit down and come up with color schemes and take ideas from men’s magazines, and add my own style to things.”
Style matters to the quiet 30-year-old superstar, but he’s also brimming with substance. Howard takes a hands-on approach to charity though his own D12 Foundation, which champions early childhood literacy programs like the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Center and encouraging incarcerated juveniles to work toward brighter, productive futures. “Basketball will end eventually. The legacy I care about is, hopefully, 30 years from now, meeting someone I talked to about turning his life around and seeing that person doing great things.”
It’s hard to think of other ways to describe the general manager of River Oaks’ new smash State of Grace restaurant, Matt Crawford, 31, once the perfect three words alight: good Southern boy. He’s easygoing but professional, refined but not fussy, and thoroughly sincere. Witness his reply when asked how he’ll make sure his new resto—the first H-Town outpost for celeb chef Ford Fry, who is from here but chose Atlanta to start his empire—isn’t a flash in the pan: “We have to stay humble, build authentic relationships with our guests and get better every day,” he says.
Crawford took his first restaurant job at age 19, waiting tables and tending bar at a nice steakhouse in his hometown of Greenville, S.C. He was managing one of South Carolina’s most swank eateries by the time he was 22. He went on to become a certified sommelier—he’s working on advanced-level status now—and he threw in with Fry and moved to Atlanta three years ago. He loves his work and has no doubt he’s found his calling. “It’s centered on food and wine, and connecting and getting to know people better,” he says. “It’s what becomes camaraderie.”
His sartorial approach matches his Southern ways, of course. A typical look for Crawford, who lives with his longtime girlfriend near Midtown—“We can walk to The Pass & Provisions!”—might include well-worn Levi’s; a tailored jacket from Sid Mashburn, another popular import from Georgia; and colorful Happy Socks. “They are fun and comfortable,” he says, “and always stay right where they should.”
The “Under” Achiever
Eric Turner, 35, wants all men to be as comfortable in their underwear as he is, and he’s pretty comfortable in his. He’s been a model—often in just undies, flaunting what the Lord gave him (well, the Lord and the gym) on numerous magazine covers and in many ad campaigns—for years. Now he’s turned his expertise into entrepreneurship, selling high-quality, comfortable underwear of his design.
The idea came to him after a memorable situation on a photo shoot: A pair of high-end, famous-name undies he was modeling ripped apart. Awkward! “I just thought to myself, ‘This is so ridiculous,’” he says. “I can do better than this.”
The Salt Lake City native, a retired Mormon missionary who’s been in H-Town since 2010, thinks his year-old Oryx line—named after a South African antelope in honor of his South African husband, also an underwear model—will provide the quality and style he found lacking in many luxe brands. So far he’s getting a great response—starting with his 2 million social media followers. Briefs, trunks and boxer briefs in Houston-bright and tasty-sounding colors like lime and grape sell for about $30 each at oryxwear.com. “Starting to see people I don’t know wearing it and hearing people talk about it like it’s the new up-and-coming men’s line has been surreal.”
Turner continues to model, work as a personal trainer and write a popular fitness blog on the side, and he occasionally competes in fitness competitions. His athletic avocations require a particular approach to fashion. “My style,” he says, “is all about clothes that move.”
The Retail Therapist
Habib Issa, manager of the Galleria’s red-hot, still-new boutique The Webster, has always been stylish, but actually started off doing interior and graphic design. It wasn’t until a retail friend called him a shopaholic, suggesting he get a job at Nordstrom, that he entertained joining the industry.
“Fashion took my love for aesthetics and then focused it on people, on an individual level,” he says. During his first week on the Nordstrom floor, a recently divorced gentleman came to him. “He was upset; he didn’t feel confident.” After seven hours together, the customer left with a new wardrobe—and sense of confidence. Issa was energized. This attention to detail and customer experience quickly took him to the top of the ranks.
When The Webster decided to open its first store outside South Florida at the Galleria, Issa topped their list of recruits, and the fresh, hip vibe of the store quickly drew him in. “We have a lot of designer collaborations and exclusives you can’t find anywhere else. And walking into the store feels like walking into your home. It’s all about having fun and relaxing.”
The Lebanon-born 33-year-old’s other interests include tennis. “Even if it’s just a quick 30 minutes,” he says. Most of his attention, though, remains on style and his profession. “You’re selling more than just garments. Really, you’re helping people discover and become better versions of themselves, even if just in a small way.”
The Hair Apparent
Keelan Baker, 32, didn’t stray far from his roots when he decided on his career. The salon owner and hairdresser grew up in Montrose at his mother’s salon and started cutting hair before he learned how to drive. “She would kind of let me ‘fade up’ my guy friends and such,” he says. After a short period of youthful uncertainty about his future, he acknowledged the obvious. “I got into trouble one day and thought, ‘Hey, I think it’s time to be a full-time hairdresser.’”
The handsome bachelor hasn’t looked back. After doing some time at high-end establishments like Riaro and the former Solution For Hair and Makeup, he opened his own salon. In the three years since he offered Shampu—located in Midtown, where he also lives—Baker has built up a sizable staff and a long list of satisfied clients. “Once I started being in control of what I wanted to learn,” he says, “that was really a big-time game changer.”
When he’s not in the salon, he moonlights as a sought-after DJ, playing trendy clubs like Clé and Proof every weekend. It’s a busy schedule with little downtime, but Baker wouldn’t have it any other way. “I just do it because I love it,” he says. “One minute you’re in the salon getting a girl pretty, and then the next minute you’re making that same girl dance.”
His own dancing clothes? He’s a fan of Adidas and Kanye West’s darkly street-smart Yeezy line, sometimes described as post-apocalyptic. “I’ll pick pieces and pair them with jeans,” he says, adding with a laugh, “I don’t wear the whole outfit. So I don’t look crazy.”