For his series Mel’s Corner, 032c fashion director and stylist Mel Ottenberg shares his favorite objects from around the world, dispatching real-time wisdom to our office in Berlin. From couture to bondage to books—this is show-and-tell with frequent flier miles.
In the second edition of the series, Mel discusses being confused for a construction worker at Armani and shares a logo tee from the ultimate power-source of his style philosophy: the Chelsea workwear mecca Dave’s New York.
Tell me about how your lover affair with Dave’s began.
I used to live around the corner from Dave’s in Chelsea. There’s always a lot of construction around there, so there’s a lot of great construction worker looks walking around all the time. Maybe that got me into the Dave’s look, because they all shop there.
What about workwear do you think is so invincible and charming?
The Levi’s blue jean. The white t-shirt. The Carhartt boiler suit. Painter’s pants. Canada Goose down. These are all such good designs. And it’s cut for a big, American guy. My big mojo purchase from Dave’s was a pair of tan Caterpillar work boots. I was wearing them the night I met my boyfriend, and he said, “Nice boots,” and was actually wearing similar ones. I think being gay and wearing these straight archetypes of clothing is hot. Classic. Simple. Not bothered by fashion. Not ruined by fashion. Fashion doesn’t look good on everyone. It definitely doesn’t look good on me.
“Fashion doesn’t look good on everyone. It definitely doesn’t look good on me.”
When does workwear go too far?
It can be A LOT of look. Years ago, I went to an appointment at Armani on Fifth Avenue, wearing all Carhartt and the Caterpillar boots. When I went to sign in, the guys at the desk said, “Hey, this is the wrong entrance. The construction site it out the door and around the back side.” I loved that. I was passing!
You got Armani Exchanged.
For the summer though I’m all about the Dave’s logo tee. I have a lot of love for wearing this tee. The cotton is thick, but not too thick. And it’s not too long. Why are tees always too long? I think that Dave’s is a design and style philosophy. You can wear Supreme, or Dries, or Marni, and still be a Dave’s man. Right now, I’m wearing white Supreme pants and an 032c Sade tee. And it’s all straight Dave’s.