by Ken Schneck, Editor
Activist. Model. And now: unquestionably dapper.
Akron’s Giovonni Santiago was named this week to the “100 Most Stylish DapperQ List 2020,” a compendium put forth by dapperQ, a premier queer style digital magazine that leverages queer fashion as a form of visual activism. This year’s list is notable for being 100% dedicated to “Black bodies and Black joy.” Anita Dolce Vita, Editor In Chief of DapperQ, notes the significance of this direction in her introduction to the list:
As a Black queer woman who rarely sees Black folx represented in beauty and fashion, and who is constantly exposed to images of traumatic violence against Black communities on social media, it was important to me to showcase Black dapperQ’s living their fullest, most authentic selves, existing as self-love in defiance of oppression, hatred, and violence.
We spoke with Santiago–himself a Board Member of The Buckeye Flame–about his style choices, his prep time, and where fashionably-challenged readers can start to get on track.
Give me three words that describe your style.
Authentic. Trendy. And…hmm…innovative. I really like to do my own thing, but it’s hard to put that in three words!
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
30-45 minutes at least.
Walk us through the process of selecting an outfit.
I normally dress feet up. First I think about the weather, then I choose my sneakers, and then I go feet up from there.
I did hear a rumor that your shoe collection is definitely something to behold.
About 700+ pairs. <laughs> I have an entire sneaker room, Ken. An entire sneaker room! It’s a problem, but it’s working for me. It’s a sight to see for sure. <laughs>
How about some advice to those of us who are more fashionably-challenged?
Your own style is whatever you wear. But you have to rock it proudly and not be worried about any judgment that you might get. My motto is, “I wear what I want and I dare somebody to tell me I can’t.”
I have to imagine you have been stopped by people with fashion compliments.
I literally had on these overalls the other day, striped, almost like conductor pants, but shorts. And I had a belt on with them and apparently nobody wears a belt with overalls, but that’s a thing that I did. But it was like a Marvel superhero belt and some high-top sneakers. I had probably 10 or 11 different people tell me in the store how much they loved my outfit.
Here’s the thing: I literally bought these overalls for like $25 at Torrid last year because I could not find any overalls I wanted. I went into Torrid with my wife and I saw them and said, “I’m going to try these on.” And they fit. So I said, “And I’m buying them.” I don’t care if I’m a guy who is shopping at Torrid. I’m going to wear these overalls. And so many people said, “You must really be into fashion.” It was just an outfit that was put together that looked great for me, but was not a real look. But I said, “Actually I am.” And here we are with me on this list and this is so awesome.
What does it mean to you to see your name on this list?
It means that I’m being noticed by people who take fashion super seriously, because Miss Anita is very much into fashion. She founded DapperQ and hosts the DapperQ fashion show at New York Fashion Week. So for her notice my style and my attention to it is pretty cool. Somebody else spotted my trend and my look and someone appreciates it. 🔥
- Ungender fashion wherever and whenever you can.
- Check out META Center, Inc., Santiago’s 501c3 that creates regular programming for transgender and gender non-conforming youth ages 7-19.
Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He is the author of Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew (2017), LGBTQ Cleveland (2018), LGBTQ Columbus (2019), and LGBTQ Cincinnati (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.