Street Etiquette is Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, two high-school friends from the Bronx whose dapper sense of style has earned them accolades around the world.
How'd you guys come up with the name for your blog?
Travis: We actually came up with the name because when we wanted to start a blog, we wanted it to encompass who we are and mirror our style and our lifestyle. I actually heard the name from a Nas song titled "Where Ya'll At." He didn't interpret it the same way we interpreted it.
Joshua: "Street etiquette with speech impediments/ but still see presidents." His interpretation is pretty much slang and metaphors.
So like 'street smarts'?
Travis: Yeah, stuff like that. And when I heard that I said, 'street etiquette'—that is such a dope name, the concept... Because it defines our style and who we are, where we're from. We're from the Bronx—you know the Bronx—and we incorporate a kind of elegance to our style, but it still has an urban twist to it.
Joshua: No, like Superfuture, Hypebeast, Style Forum, Sole Collector....
Travis: He's the one that actually got me into it. I started doing it.... just seeing other people's style from around the world.
Joshua: Each forum has its own aesthetic, so I was kind of all over the place, but I was a bit popular on each one. If you can go into Hypebeast and Style Forum and post the same outfit and people would love it on both, that's cool because it's hard to cross boundaries. Hypebeast is known for being more for sneaker collectors, and Style Forum is real select, with their aesthetic—more traditional outfits to more modern, depending on the section. We're fortunate to cross boundaries. Like I wouldn't call myself a sneakerhead, but I like to highlight my shoes, and if I'm wearing a certain outfit, I like to do certain things to make it stand out. So I guess in that sense I'm still a sneakerhead and care about my shoes, but I wouldn't wear Jordans anymore.
Your blog seems like it's got that crossover mentality, which makes it super unique.
Joshua: We're telling a story. A story that's been told before, but we're telling it from our perspective—two guys from the Bronx perspective. So if we're wearing a tweed coat, I mean people have been wearing tweed coats for centuries, but the way we're wearing it is different...
Show now does the sneaker collector's mentality apply to your style?
Travis: Being a sneakerhead doesn't mean I'm doing something because it's cool. It's something like you're born with—an innate passion. So I feel like no matter what style you crossover to, there always going to be items that you buy that's like 'I cherish this item, I need this...' And now that our style has evolved to something different, I'll see a pair of wingtips and be like, 'I have to have these.' And it can be vintage and I feel like the same sneakerhead thing, where you go to these old mom and pop stores and try to find these sneakers from back in the day. It's the same passion that people have when they do to these thrift shops and try to find treasures hidden in the back.
What gave you the idea to start the blog?
Travis: Well basically, we were contributing to a whole bunch of style forums online, we're addicted to that. Like posting outfits online.
Was there a particular influence that prompted you guys to evolve to the look that you have today?
Joshua: I would say the influence was the internet—we cultured ourselves, because we had been held in a box so long growing up in the Bronx. A lot of people in the Bronx don't come down here [downtown NYC]. And the internet just helped us take the next step, because you see what people are doing. And it's like, 'This is what this guy is doing in Germany, and I could do that in New York City.' We have a lot of influences from the internet. In every post we revert back to history and show vintage pictures. History itself is an influence in our style.
Were there any surprises as your style transitioned?
Travis: Not surprises, but there were some boundaries that we expected. We were some of the few people to start wearing skinny jeans in high school. At that time, it was kind of something that was out of the box, and we got a lot of heat for that. It's funny because back in those days, our style wasn't anything like this, I mean, we were wearing sneakers. But even then, we'd get a lot of heat—I mean people would question our sexuality because of that. But now, those are the people that are on that style.
Joshua: We still get a lot of heat. As long as you're doing something that's out of the box, people are not going to like it. When we come down here [downtown], we feel comfortable. I mean there is an intense masculinity coming from where we come from.
Your site has great writing and content.
Joshua: I love to write and the content is very important. That's why we don't post up for a week, because we want people to absorb what we put out there, and not just look out our pictures and say, 'look how cool [we] are.' It's actually writing that accompanies the whole vision.
Where do you shop?
Joshua: As far as smaller brands, the Brooklyn Circus, 3 Sixteen, Billykirk. Billykirk always has great leather products. We do a lot of vintage and thrift shopping, because our budgets aren't that big. We do a lot of eBay. We can shop on eBay for like three hours a day!
Do you have any favorite vintage spots in the city?
Travis: I think eBay is better than any of the vintage spots. The vintage stores in the city are contradictory, they are so hyped that there is not a steal in any of them. I'd rather get something on eBay for like $8 and get it tailored.
Do you tailor things a lot?
Travis: Yeah, everything.
Do you have a tailor or sew them yourselves?
Joshua: We have a tailor at Stanton Tailor Shop at 90 Stanton st. He's great, with reasonable prices and attention to details. Mostly every jacket we have is tailored. If you buy a shirt off eBay, chances are it's not going to be slim fit. It's going to have big sleeves, full body, so we taper the sleeves, taper the body. It's like $15-20. Not bad.
The people who look best in their clothes generally look good because they have a good tailor.
Joshua: We're trying to learn how to tailor.
You're going to get sewing machines?
Do you guys have any style icons?
Joshua: Man, there's a lot. Miles Davis, Sydney Portier, Duke Ellington, Johnny Depp is a stylish guy. I like his style. Real laid back.
Like Johnny Depp circa Kate Moss?
Joshua: Yeah, yeah! Who else....?
Travis: You know, normal people. We're influenced by a lot of regular people on the street. I mean, you may not know them, but the most stylish people in the world are the people that no one knows. I always say like, we're not the best dressed, but there are so many people out there that can do it just as good and even better.
Joshua: But we have that platform of the blog, and they are living their regular, everyday lives.