Miguel Talks Leather, Versace, And His Eclectic Style In Exclusive Interview

Miguel talked to us about his eclectic style.
Photo: Getty Images

Before I jump into that one time I got to interview Miguel in the backseat of a moving van (no, that’s not a euphemism for anything), I do believe a hearty congratulation is in order. From the bottom of our glitter-laden MTV Style hearts, we’re sending mad love and props to the souful crooner because he just racked up FIVE Grammy nods last night including Song of the Year for his falsetto-dripping single “Adorn.” It doesn’t come as THAT much of a surprise, though, since Miguel’s been riding high on critical acclaim for his Kaleidoscope Dream sophomore album since its release in early October. The sound of the record is unique in its ability to feel simultaneously nostalgic and cutting-edge fresh, and we can’t help but notice (you know, being a fashion blog and all) that his style has morphed considerably since his debut record All I Want Is You and feels a lot like his new sound. Fortunately for us, Miguel obliged our requests to talk his ear off about fashion influences and runway trends and leather chaps while he tried to get a meal in despite our abrasive journalistic pushiness (the man is a SAINT, guys). Now, we’re going to share the information and thoughtful words we mined from him with you!

MTV STYLE: Your music is really eclectic. You draw from a lot of influences: funk, soul, hip hop, classic rock. I’m really interested in how you relate that kind of mentality to your style. They feel really interconnected.

MIGUEL: There’s something to be said about consistency, and I think when it comes to my instincts, sensibilites, and my choices musically, I think the point is driven home when they’re mirrored by and consistent with the aesthetic. So everything is very deliberate. I make it very deliberate, but very natural. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in my clothes and how I present myself than I do now. And I think I feel that way musically, as well.

What kind of fashion influences do you pull from? Is there a person or set of people whose style you really like? Designers? Brands?

I think it’s more periods for me. I think I study silhouettes more than anything. And time periods, trends from certain eras. I think my style, at this point, is kind of this juxtaposition between counterculture, rockabilly, and hip hop, and that’s just where I come from. That’s everything my parents raised me on. My father’s an avid classic rock connoisseur. My mom is, like, soul, jazz standard, a lover of all that stuff. So between those two bookends, it’s kind of like — those textures, the colors, the pace — that’s where everything comes from. I think my style is edgy but at the same time classic but at the same time modern. That’s how I describe my music, too.

A lot of your M.O. is about debunking stereotypes, debunking stereotypes in R&B, in pop music. Do you think that also applies to your fashion?

Yea, why not? Who says rockabilly can’t be soulful? Who says that hard rock can’t be R&B? I think all of those influences have naturally made their way into my music. People aren’t stupid. They can see when something is contrived or when it’s forced. When it feels effortless and when it feels natural, that’s when people actually believe you, and I think because you hear it in my music, I’m only being myself.

Totally. There’s a strong sense that you’re not setting out with one specific mission you want to carry out or mold you want to fit into. It’s just whatever you feel.

Exactly. I’m going with my instincts at this point, and it feels natural. I think that’s what’s cool, to get comments like that, “Oh, this feels like somehow he pulls it off without it feeling forced.” Just kind of doing what comes naturally. That’s what really cuts through. People really understand that because they can see through bulls***, man. It’s important for me to not only include the influences of different kinds of music into mine, but also different kinds of style into mine and what’s expected of me. I always wanted to transcend that.

Miguel talked to us about his eclectic style.
Photo: Getty Images

Would you say your style changes from day-to-day to the stage or does it stay pretty much the same?

More so now, I’ve been more adventurous when it comes to day-to-day style. I’m a t-shirt and leather jacket dude all day. Biker jacket all day. I’m at home anywhere in the world in a leather jacket. It communicates it without me having to say much. I’m not much of a salesman when it comes to talking about myself, but I feel like that does it for me. I mean, even the way that my hair is…

Your hair! I’m way into this pompadour with a fade you’ve been doing. It’s so different than the way you used to wear it, that close close shave.

Well, I just let it grow out! I just let that s*** f****** grow finally! But even simple choices in accessories and what jewelry I wear, all of that is, like, those small details make all the difference in communicating the appeal and the energy behind everything.

Absolutely. You’re on tour now, so what kinds of things do you pack before you get on the bus?

Gotta have a nice broken in pair of leather pants. You just have to have it. You have to have your leather biker jacket. But I never wear the two together.

Yea, that’s a lot of leather. Very SNL Leatherman.

Lots of rock tees. I try and bring a nice coat, especially for winter touring. On the east coast, it gets super cold. And I don’t do too much — I’ve never been the dude that has, like, eight bags. I try and keep it light. The most I’ve had is, like, two bags — the large joint and, like, a duffel. I mean, for a tour when you’re gonna be gone for a month and half, you try and keep it pretty basic and simple but still have options. I probably pack, like, 3 or 4 pairs of shoes. Definitely have to have a really dope pair of creepers. A nice pair of Converse. I have my shoes that I work out in. And then, like, a leather boot. Kinda gives you all of the flavors of my mood.

Would you say you’re a shoes guy, a jacket guy, a t-shirt guy? What’s that one article of clothing that you’re all about?

Shades! But I mean t-shirts, too. But shades, definitely.

Who makes some of your favorite shades?

Gianni Versace, hands down. all the way through. Karl Lagerfeld did a lot of really dope avant garde s***, but it’s mostly for women. I think the most thorough and timeless pieces that will always transcend, always get the point across, bold but still not too far out: Versace. Gianni Versace just nailed it every time. The pair of 465 is just my favorite shape, hands down. It’s, like, not too wayfarer, but it stands out. There’ve been a lot of duplicates since that. I’ve seen more now of that frame, interestingly.

Miguel wears vintage 465 Gianna Versace sunglasses in his “Adorn” music video.
Photo: Courtesy of RCA Records

And people are getting a lot more into shades now, too. Is that something you’ve always been into?

Into, yes. But I couldn’t afford them before or even FIND them. Before the Internet, you had to really be, like, into fashion to procure vintage pieces like that. So you’d have to travel, have contacts, obviously, have the funds. It’s become a lot easier.

When and why did you first catch the fashion bug?

I think I’ve always been into it, but I won’t say I’ve always had the best style! But I’m a student. I think the moment I really started doing research on why trends started to pick up, silhouettes started to change, take into consideration things like social climate or economic ups and downs and how that really influences culture and style, it made it really interesting and really fun. And then identifying with some of my favorite musicians and actors and artists of the last century, I think, really drove it home. And just kind of like picking and choosing what I felt resonated with my sensibilities. I think that’s what it was. That started for me at like 18 or 19.

Are there any trends — men’s or women’s — you’ve seen right now that really resonate with you? Or even ones that you can’t get behind?

Well, it’s tricky because there are men’s trends, especially runway trends. Like, reeeeeally really runway…

Are we talking like that token avant garde leather chaps art piece situation that’s probably not going to hit any stores?

Right. Something like that’s not ever happening for me. That’s not going down. I can’t pull that off. And that’s the tricky thing about fashion. You kind of have to figure out what works for you, and then build from there. As cool as something may look on someone else, it may never work for you. Some tall dude from Germany is killing it on the runway, but it’s not going to happen for Miguel: Mexican and black from Los Angeles, California.

Are there women’s trends you feel that way about? Like, “What is this? What is that about?”

There was one we were just talking about last night! What was it? Ummm, women’s trends I’m not really messing with right now…

Because the ladies, they embrace a lot more than dudes will.

Right! Hmm, I might have to come back to that. I did see a few things last night that I really actually did like. Like, these chunky sweaters? These chunky knit sweaters that are coming in. Obviously, it’s cold, but like, colorful, chunky knit sweaters. Really dope.

Like a Cosby, Coogi joint?

Well… Kind of…

Or like a BIG marled knit where you can see the thick yarn fibers?

Yes, that! Really big, really chunky, really nice textures. I love s*** that’s, like, bold and colorful. Especially in the winter because you’re always expecting to see really muted colors and earth tones.

Cozy stuff! I love that, too. When the tour wraps, do you switch styles when you’re off-duty? Go for the cozier stuff? Pull out a monochromatic sweatsuit or something?

[Laughs] The adidas tracksuit is dope, though! No, relaxed for me is honestly Levi’s 501s, a t-shirt, and a leather jacket. That’s as relaxed as it gets. Now, if i’m about to go to sleep on my bunk on my tour bus, I’m not sleeping in a biker jacket. I’m gonna throw some sweats on or some shorts! But that’s human, right?

Totally. *finally lets Miguel finish his dinner*


Like us on Facebook so we can be friends and follow us on Twitter @MTVstyle to talk.