Sabir M. Peele is the founder & creative director of the men’s editorial blog, Men’s Style Pro. He was selected as one of the “5 Best Dressed Men In America” by Esquire Magazine (2010) & GQ Magazine’s #GQFall’s Best Dressed (2013), respectively. Outside of running Men’s Style Pro, Sabir serves as a freelance brand consultant working with brands and publications like Z Zegna, GQ, Men’s Health, Johnston & Murphy and many others.
Sabir was among the victorious bidders at InLiquid Benefit 2016, having emerged from the Ice Box with an original Jae Martin painting. After posting a picture of his winnings on Instagram, he agreed to speak with us about his personal approach to art collecting.
Erica: Can you start off by telling me about your background – and how you transitioned into the field of men’s style?
Sabir: I’m a North Philadelphia native (Central High School grad ’04), residing in the Philly-burbs. Education-wise, I have two degrees – one in Liberal Arts that I received in high school and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Ursinus College (focus in Organizational Psychology & Business Management). Since grade school, I’ve been a track & field athlete – competing on a NCAA + USATF levels. I’ve always had a strong affinity for menswear, but I didn’t initially see it as a career path for me. I thought I was going to be a cognitive psychologist.
During my post college life, I worked in higher education as a college admission counselor for 6.5 years (most of those years were spent at University of the Sciences in southwest Philly). For 4 of the 5 years at USciences I also ran the menswear editorial blog, Men’s Style Pro. After working both in higher ed & as Men’s Style Pro concurrently, I had a huge opportunity with GQ to host their national series with Glamour Magazine & Simon Malls, Lookbook Live. In September 2014, I left higher education to pursue my full-time life as Men’s Style Pro. The rest is history.
Erica: I get the impression that everything from your personal style to your brand was self-made, rather than the force of outside influences. Do you think this comes from your roots in Philadelphia – a city with a burgeoning arts scene and tech industry – where startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs seem to thrive?
Sabir: My style isn’t just influenced by Philly, but I attribute my entrepreneurial spirit, the fluid nature of my style and my thirst to be the best in the style game to my city Philly! As a kid, I was a baggy jeans & jerseys wearer, but I found myself become more influenced by tailored wear that I would see in movies while I was in high school – which influenced more of how I dress today. The great thing is I’ve never lost my sporty heritage – so everything I wear, even in tailored menswear, has a sportswear element to it.
Erica: You caught our attention as an art collector thanks to an Instagram post you shared of a piece you purchased at InLiquid’s Benefit 2016. Have you collected art before – or was this your first experience?
Sabir: This is the first piece that I’ve ever bid on and won! I have a huge respect for Jae Martin and have always been drawn to graffiti-style artwork. Growing up I developed a love for architecture and art in during the Baroque period and gothic art because of the expressiveness of the works. I get the same vibe from street and graffiti art. My office wall is now adorned with a Jae Martin piece from the Inliquid auction and a Banksy canvas Mona Lisa with bazooka. There was a serious thrill/rush during the bidding process. Every 10 minutes I checked my status to make sure I was winning.
Erica: In the post, you pointed out that the painting you purchased so perfectly complemented a pair of Creative Recreation Scopo Kicks. Do you think there’s a way to take that attitude and spin it towards breaking the stigma that collecting art has to be intimidating? That instead it can reflect your personal style just as much as the perfect pair of sneakers?
Sabir: Of course collecting art should be more personal than for show. The art collecting scene has always had a pretentious stigma around it, which is extremely unfortunate. The new wave of artists and young collectors has brought an inclusive vibe to the art world that everyone is embracing.
My goal in finding art is to find pieces that I personally connect with – be it on a style level or emotion level (most of the time it’s both). The piece I won at the Inliquid auction reminded me of growing up in Philly and being fascinated with graffiti murals in North & West Philly, and it was nice to bring it to my suburban home.
Erica: What attracts you to a particular piece of art – or a menswear piece for that matter?
Sabir: There are three things that attract me to a piece of art – Colors, Type of Media or Gut Emotional Feeling. When picking menswear pieces, I’m looking at Construction, Material, and Fit.
Erica: What are some local galleries, artists, or arts events that you’d recommend to someone new to the Philadelphia scene?
Sabir: I haven’t frequented too many galleries; however I’ve made my way into a few galleries in Old City that are outstanding.
Erica: Lastly, what’s the best way for someone to look trendy while collecting?
Sabir: First, never try to look trendy; everyone can tell. Plus, you’ll be worried about how you look more than find great pieces of art. Stick to your personal style basics, but keep them tailored and you’ll look great.
Did you miss Benefit 2016? Never fear! Decorate your home, office, or Instagram feed at Art for the Cash Poor 2016 June 3 – 5 at Crane Arts, with a Kickoff Party Friday,June 3, 5:30 – 9 pm that doubles as a fundraiser for the AIDS Fund. Tickets for the Kickoff can be purchased here. The weekend event is free and open to the public and runs Saturday and Sunday, June 4 – 5, noon – 6 pm.