You never know when you'll bump into a talented artist on the streets of Denver. We recently spotted multi-instrumentalist Wesley Watkins, frontman of The Other Black, outside of Leela European Cafe, rocking serious platforms and an eye-catching purple hat.
A Denver native, Watkins was raised in Montbello and has been a singer and musician since sixth grade — seventeen years ago. "I grew up in church and was always singing and playing piano," he says. Today you can sometimes catch Watkins playing trumpet on the 16th Street Mall, or performing as The Other Black at the Larimer Lounge. We stopped to chat with him about personal style, European fashion, and where to shop for clothes.
Style inspirations and icons: "I love early-1970s fashion," Watkins says. "Stuff like Soul Train and Michael Jackson. You know, like big shoes, blouses for men and silk or fur. I feel like back then people dressed for a cause. Every dancer dressed and knew how they were going to move. For a show I might think, what would Sly Stone do? He would wear anything. I also love the styles of Andre 3000 and Pharrell Williams. Don Cheadle has underrated style. He is always dressed real nice."
Style mantra: "Comfort is key. I usually just throw things together, in terms of my clothes. I don't have any rules for fashion besides no denim. Comfort is what makes people look good. If you look comfortable, you look confident. If you are confident, people think you look good."
Favorite accessory: "Hats. I remember always wearing hats, and my grandpa wore lots of hats. My first hat was this 1950s-style forest-green Italian fedora. I thought it was the wildest thing, and I thought to myself, 'Oh, I don't have to wear just a black or brown hat — I can wear whatever! I can wear color!'
"Traveling has influenced my style," he continues. "I never used to wear scarves or bandannas, and then I went to Europe and I was like, this is amazing. Scarves and ascots are the craze there. I started writing this song about how accessories change with the seasons. It's really fun. This season I want to wear leather gloves."
Favorite color: "Purple. I used to like blue, and then this year I started gravitating toward purple."
Shops at: "Usually I'm gifted with fashion, like a pair of snakeskin pants. People give me things that they think are too crazy because they think I would wear it, and I would. If it fits. I also love thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange, the ARC, lots of Goodwills. I bet most of my wardrobe is stuff that people have given me saying, 'Do you want this? I'm going to throw it away.'"
Summer anthem: "I've been listening to Breastfist. They are from Brooklyn. Now, months ago, it could've been anything by Kendrick Lamar. "
"My purple hat is one of my more expensive purchases," Watkins continues. "I also bought a pair of $300 shoes once. I bought this hat at a bluegrass festival in Kansas. The platform shoes were ordered from Amazon.com."
Like Watkins, always dress with soul and style, Denver.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.