Gent of the Month
Updated: Jan 8
"Classic menswear is the way I present myself to the world."
A young, globetrotting entrepreneur, public health expert, and medical doctor with an affinity for three-piece suits, double breasted jackets and helping others dress better - sound familiar? We didn't think so.
Meet January's Gent of the Month, Dr. Collins Oghor, the man on a mission to build Africa's first ever dialysis machine manufacturer - and he's doing it in style.
1. Tell us about when you first got into classic menswear.
My classic menswear journey traces back to my childhood. Growing up, my Mum was a fashion designer and, naturally, the importance of dressing up was instilled in me at a very young age. Beyond this, my grandfather whom I really admired, was a bit of a dandy who paid very close attention to his appearance. I also went to boarding school for 6 years, where I was required to dress 'smartly' 7 days a week in my 3 sets of uniforms. It was there that I truly learned about fit and tailoring, and the simplicity of having a “uniform”. I veered off from classic menswear in my late teens, as many youngsters do, and became a streetwear enthusiast for a few years. Fortunately, a few months before my 21st birthday, in the final year of my Bachelors degree, I was hired as a Teaching Assistant for a Psychology course and decided then and there that I was going to look the part, and consciously started building a proper classic menswear wardrobe.
In what followed, I began my journey into a joint MD-MBA program where I was the youngest in my business class. From that day forward, I decided I was going to dress professionally everyday in class to seem more mature. This really sparked my passion in classic menswear and eventually led me into the business in co-founding Maison Leporem, one of Montreal’s premier classic menswear and tailoring houses.
2. Describe your personal style.
To be honest, it’s a bit difficult for me to describe my personal style. For instance, I do love the the sharp lines and structure of English tailoring, however I also appreciate the softness and ease of the Italians. What I can say for certain is that I have an affinity for three-piece suits and and double breasted jackets, so I tend to wear a lot of those.
3. Who and/or what has had the greatest impact on your sartorial style?
Sean Connery’s James Bond (may he rest in peace) has had a great impact on my style over the years. I particularly love the ease with which he wears his tailoring. He always managed to look smart but also appear like he did not take himself too seriously.
Beyond 007, I gain a lot of inspiration from my friends. Gentlemen including Yves Kabongo (@yveskbg), Claudiu Pascalau (@claudiupg), and Carl G (@carlsirtiger) are friends who have become style icons to me. I (somewhat oddly) also get inspired by places - having the privilege to visit Tokyo twice in my life has had one of the greatest impacts on my personal style.
4. What do your clothes do for you?
My relationship to classic menswear is, as you can imagine, very tight knit. I feel as though my sense of self (for better or for worse) is closely tied to classic menswear. It is the way I present myself to the world, and how I interact with the world. It is perhaps my purest form of self expression. It is also one of my most important forms of stress relief — I almost literally feel the dopamine flowing through my brain when I’m discussing classic menswear or designing a suit with a client or curating seasonal selection of fabrics. Although I have a parallel career in consulting, global health and medicine, I am always wearing a suit/sports coat and shirt from Maison Leporem. In effect, I’m also a living representation of the brand, 24/7, 365. I think for this reason it’s fair to say that, for me, classic menswear is life.
5. What is your favourite go-to piece in your wardrobe?
My go-to piece is a double breasted suit made in a beautiful greyish-blue birdseye patterned fabric from REDA. I love this suit because despite being unique, it can blend into almost any situation — I can wear it with or without a tie or with a turtleneck, and I often use the jacket as a sport coat (it is deconstructed) paired with jeans or chinos pants. It's very comfortable and quite flattering to my body shape, if I may say so myself.
6. Is there anything you would have done differently in your menswear journey?
The biggest lesson I wish I'd learned earlier would be to buy less and buy better quality. When I first started building my classic menswear wardrobe, I was very interested in experimenting with different colours, cuts, and patterns, so I optimized for quantity and variety, instead of quality. But the older you get, the better you learn about yourself - what you like and what fits you. Ultimately, you also learn that you are better off buying fewer clothes and shoes that are properly made and of the highest quality you can afford than buying a lot of poor quality clothing. This is especially true for classic menswear where the ultimate goal is to achieve timeless style. For this reason, a well-made suit is also unlikely to go out of style anytime soon. We preach this message to our clients at Maison Leporem and many of them are shocked that we are encouraging them to spend less.
7. Is there a story you’d like to share with our community?
One story I enjoy telling at dinner parties is the Maison Leporem origin story. Ironically, the concept of Maison Leporem was birthed from a disdain of classic menswear shops. As most young men of colour would attest, there are certain retail stores you walk into and the attitude of the staff immediately tells you that you are not welcome there. In my experience, classic menswear retailers were one of the biggest culprits of this sort of behaviour. In addition to discriminatory attitude, it was obvious that most of the people on the sales floor didn’t have a clue about tailoring (let alone passion!). So, as much as I loved fashion, I hated shopping. At that time, I spoke to a couple of my MBA classmates about it who turned to me and said, “dude, start your own thing." Thankfully, I obliged.
As fate would have it, I met Claudiu Pascalau a few months after I started (unsurprisingly, we met at a tailor’s atelier in downtown Montreal). We had some mutual friends and, more importantly, we felt a deep connection to classic menswear and were gung-ho about the need for an accessible Montreal brand that was solely dedicated to timeless style in its truest form. Together, we set out to create Maison Leporem to become more than a boutique/brand, and more of a “community centre” for classic menswear enthusiasts.
The main point I want to drive here is the need for classic menswear to acknowledge its elitist image, and strive to become more accepting and accessible (by that, I don’t mean to become cheaper). However, in that regard, representation matters! For example, some of the most stylish celebrities from yesteryears were black men; yet, most of these men are not knighted as “style icons” and their stories are not as widely shared as their white counterparts. This is one of the reasons I appreciate the work that Silkxchange is doing across its social media presence. I feel privileged to be a part of this virtual community, and I thank you for having me as the 1st GOTM of 2021. I hope it turns out to be a wonderful year for all of you reading this. Ciao!