This past March at SXSW there was one name on everyone's lips: Leon Bridges. Those who didn't know him before were converted, one audience at a time, as he dazzled crowds with his soulful sounds. To kick off our collaboration with photographer Ben Sklar of portraits of By George customers, we sat down for a chat with Leon at Arlyn Studios, as he shopped our menswear lines and had a little fun behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes photos graciously provided by Leon's photographer, rambo.
ByGeorge: Where did you grow up, how did that influence your style?
Leon Bridges: I grew up in a little town about 25 minutes south of Fort Worth, my parents were separated, so I grew up between a little town called Crowley and Fort Worth. I was really sheltered growing up, I wasn’t able to go to parties or that type of thing. My mom was very religious and so I would listen to the radio and secular music when she was at work. So growing up I was really inspired by a lot of R&B, from Ginuwine to Usher and 112 to Dru Hill. I was just really fascinated with it. When I started writing and playing guitar about four years ago the circle that I was in, as far as the open mics, it was a lot of singer songwriter, folk, and country stuff so I would definitely say that played a big part in my songwriting because I wasn’t around any R&B artists in Ft Worth. So being around those guys really inspired me to be a better writer.
BG: What about your sense of style?
LB: Yeah that came after my decision to pursue this sound, because when I started writing four years ago, it was more of a neo-soul type thing. When I started listening to Sam Cooke and the older style of R&B, I felt that was where my voice was. So when I started writing it, I wanted to make everything consistent from the way that I dressed to my lyrics and my online presence.
BG: So what are you currently working on and how do you dress for the job?
LB: Right now it’s just straight up touring and playing shows, the record is already done and we’re shooting for June for the release. I wish I could wear a suit everyday, got to get some more money for that. Right now it’s just straight up slacks and any type of short-sleeve polo shirt or vintage sweaters.
BG: I heard a rumor that you met the White Denim guys through a pair of pants...
LB: I was at this bar and Austin Jenkins’ girlfriend came up to me and was like, hey you should meet my boyfriend he wears Wranglers, cause I had my high-waisted ones on. I was like “This is weird” but then he turned out to be the coolest guy ever. And then he saw me a week later playing at Moto lounge and that changed my life, meeting him.
BG: What are your favorite pair of jeans?
LB: I’m not really big on brands but I love… well all I have are really that one pair of wranglers, I like to wear slacks, mostly, but I really dig what Levi’s is doing, I like some of the high-waisted ones that they’ve got going on.
BG: What fashion lesson have you recently learned and who taught it to you?
LB: My manager, Jonathan, I was wearing a suit and it was my first suit and he was like hey, you know you’re not supposed to button the bottom button. And he was like, that’s the only fashion advice I’m going to be able to give you.
BG: Where is your favorite place to travel and what do you wear there?
LB: I probably have to say New Orleans, when I go there I get my fedora game, straight up high-waist, and collared shirt.
The final product, taking over Lamberts during SXSW.