I really enjoyed our conversation, which refreshingly veered off fashion to an unexpected but intriguing place.
Kassius Denizen: I call my style James Bond modern and simply because it’s classic, tailored and timeless, but at the same time, very timely.
TorontoVerve: Which Bond appeals to you the most?
KD: Roger Moore is the best Bond there ever was. He was just smooth and suave. A different kind of smooth than Connery. Connery would slap the taste out of your mouth. Moore would charm you and avoid fighting you altogether, and I like that; however, if he needed to, Moore too could slap the taste out of your mouth. Style-wise, I like Daniel Craig’s Bond. When he puts on a leather jacket and slacks or a full tuxedo, he looks just right. Moore couldn’t pull off a leather jacket the same way that Craig can, but Craig doesn’t have Moore’s suaveness either.
TV: What are your thoughts about Idris Alba being Bond? He appears to be a fan favourite now.
KD: I think it would be glorious. People keep asking, “Why does everything have to change?” The simple answer is: “The world has to change.” Why not a Black Bond? Sure, when Ian Fleming wrote his books, he didn’t have a Black guy in mind, but we live in a different world now. Maybe later there’ll be an Asian Bond.
TV: Fleming would roll over in his grave.
KD: [Laughs] Yes, they say he was very racist, which is even more reason why that should take place. We have to eliminate all these limitations based on race. If the guy is smooth, athletic, handsome, and has all the qualities that Bond possesses, his race should be irrelevant.
TV: So you’re a lifestyle consultant at your founded company Meet Mr. Kaizen. Can you explain what that is exactly?
KD: I’m a certified life coach, stylist and image consultant. I help gentlemen develop the best aspirational version of themselves. My tagline is: “I help you elevate your style of life. Not just your lifestyle.” I advise men on their physical fitness, what they put into their bodies and how to act. That’s what Meet Mr. Kaizen is. Kaizen is a Japanese word, and it means good improvements in small increments. Nothing happens overnight. It’s not about being the perfect man. It’s being better than you were yesterday and if you keep at it, you’ll be better than you were ten years ago.
TV: What kind of men seek your mentorship?
KD: It’s definitely guys who have a disposable income. It may be a newly divorced guy. A guy in a new sales job who wants to better compete with his more seasoned colleagues. I help give men the edge that they couldn’t develop on their own. I tell men where to shop, what to wear, how to be fit and where to be seen to attract clientele. Our business gives men a shortcut to be the best version of themselves.
TV: What kind of response are you getting?
KD: It’s been good. I have clients calling saying, “I have a brother-in-law who needs help.” A lot of people think I’m like Hitch (Will Smith’s “date doctor” movie). “He needs to find a wife.” That’s not my main objective; however, if you’re a better man, you are going to attract women, but I don’t coach by saying, “This is how you pick up a lady.” My whole focus is on making a better man and that’s in terms of respecting everyone around you and respecting yourself. Tom Ford said, “Dressing well is a form of good manners,” and I live by that. How you look is a bold statement. It’s a statement that no one can take away from you, and people make assumptions on who you are based on your appearance.
TV: Ok, so let’s say if you were…Stephen Harper’s image consultant. What would you recommend?
KD: [Laughs] Everything. I’d say, “Get some friends of colour,” and I don’t mean hire them. Hang out and get to know them. Actually go to their houses for a barbecue.
TV: How do you know he doesn’t?
KD: I know he doesn’t because his circle is his circle. No disrespect to him, it’s how he was brought up -- so he gravitates to people who are like him and thinks like him. If there is a Black person around him, it’s only temporary. That’s the difference between Harper and Justin Trudeau. Different generations and mentality. To me, Trudeau is like Clinton because he’s a forward thinker and gets that the human race is not just the White race. I don’t think Harper gets that. Most Canadians don't get that.
TV: And Harper’s style?
KD: Oh, don’t get me started [laughs].
TV: You mentioned that people constantly ask you why you’re always dressed up.
KD: They do and my response is, “Why are you not? Why are you in jeans and a T-shirt everyday?” It’s so uninspiring and boring. I’m more comfortable in a suit than I am in jeans. I think shorts should only be worn when you’re working-out or at the beach. That’s just me. I’m tired of seeing guys wearing sneakers when they go out on a Saturday night. I don’t care who made the sneakers, they’re still sneakers. Guys should put an effort in what they wear. When I'm at an event, I decide on who I talk to based on their appearance. Some people say it’s shallow. I call it: visual stimulation. I don’t want to talk to someone who didn’t put an effort in being there.
TV: So let me ask: do your principles about outward appearance have anything to do with being Black and avoiding societal stereotypes?
KD: Being Black absolutely has something to do with it. In my household, you couldn’t leave the house without looking a certain way. Again, the philosophy is: you’re making a statement to the world and you’re not going to make the statement that they expect of you; which is to look thug-like. So that helped shape what I believe today. More than that, from the 1940’s to present day, a suit makes a man look more respectable. It’s no different from the car he drives or the house he lives in. Everything is about making a statement. That’s just life. It’s not complicated.
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Kassius' pocket square is designed by Baffi Collection and his lapel pin is by Ellis Esq.