“Technically, I’ve been into fashion since I opened my eyes,” Mohammed Al Nazal told me during our interview.
There was never a fashion awakening for him; it had just always been there.
Growing up in Iraq, Al Nazal remembers his father “fully suited” for as long as he knew him. He was classy. He had suits made from British wool and other fine materials from the 1970s to ‘90s.
When his father passed away in 1997, Al Nazal inherited his suit collection, only fueling his fashion love affair. At the time, he was a teenager, and the suits were too big for him. When he finally grew into them, they were out of style.
“And then they came back into style, and I outgrew them,” Al Nazal said with a laugh.
But his father’s style stuck with him, influencing his own look.
Al Nazal considers himself a suit-and-tie guy. He’s drawn to the 1940s through ‘60s style—a “classic narrow tie with a slim suit.”
Al Nazal works an I.T. position at Select Medical. When he’s in the office, he’s wearing a suit, or at least a tie, and is typically the most dressed up in the room.
“I think real men wear suits and ties…at least suits…at least a jacket,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of what menswear is now in general.”
Al Nazal is one of a small pool of men’s fashion social media influencers in the Harrisburg area. He’s been posting pictures of his outfits for around five years, filling a gap that he sees.
There’s no shortage of fashion on Instagram, his platform of choice, but there is a shortage of male influencers, especially in the central PA area. According to Al Nazal, the majority of fashion influencers on social media are women. He hopes his account will help men find their style, and, at least, put on a jacket.
Layton Lamell won the superlative of “best dressed” basically every year in high school. He remembers someone saying, “Layton I’ve never seen you wear sweatpants yet!”
He began perfecting his look at about 6 years old. As a kid, he wore suits and long coats, just like his stepfather—his fashion icon from an early age.
“He taught me how to wear a suit, be a gentleman and tie a tie,” Lamell said.
He also attributes aspects of his style and his “swagger walk” to his grandfather and brother.
When his senior prom rolled around in 2019, it was no shocker that Lamell showed up dressed like he had just stepped off the red carpet. He wore a black suit, lapel pin brooch, bowtie and even a studded mask, ahead of the times that COVID would soon bring.
His look earned him a cover photo on Krave Magazine, a publication that highlights fashion and entertainment for men of color, and national attention.
“That’s when I was like—I should take this seriously,” Lamell said.
After talking with his mom, he decided to shift his direction, letting go of sports and diving into the world of fashion.
Now Lamell has gained a following on his Instagram page and has taken up modeling.
“When I put on clothes, it’s like putting on that Superman cape, ready to just be confident,” he said.
Josh Maugans, another fashion influencer from Harrisburg, can identify with that sentiment.
You may catch him around Harrisburg rocking crop pants, a tracksuit or a wide brim hat.
In his pictures, he looks confident, but he said it hasn’t always been that way.
“I hated getting my picture taken,” he said. “I was really hesitant.”
But when he started two years ago, he quickly realized he couldn’t keep taking pictures of his neatly folded outfits to show his style, that would get boring. He needed to model them himself.
Maugans took a chance in front of the camera and got great feedback. His account grew in popularity quickly, and he found a hobby he loved.
In 2020, he decided to step up his game and post more frequently on his page. He wanted to create higher quality content and increase his audience.
Today, he regularly poses with Harrisburg as his backdrop. Several Sprocket Mural Works murals make an appearance on his page, as well as Little Amps coffee shops, the Broad Street Market and Riverfront Park.
While Maugans wears a suit for his job at a menswear store and occasionally in pictures he posts to Instagram, off the clock, his signature look is modern street style.
Contrary to Al Nazal’s classic style, Maugans likes to push the envelope on modern men’s fashion.
“I wear stuff that’s a little out of the ordinary,” he said.
Al Nazal loves fashion influencing, but it’s a side gig. He has, though, gained opportunities to work with big name brands like Brooks Brothers and Express. While he isn’t waiting for social influencing to become his full-time job, he does hope to expand to work with more brands.
Al Nazal doesn’t have tens of thousands of followers, but he believes that those he has are people who are genuinely interested in what he does. As a Middle Eastern man, he has occasionally received negative comments, but he said that most of his followers are very supportive and kind.
He regularly interacts with them, answering their questions on where his clothes are from. Al Nazal especially wants to reach a younger audience with a style that they might not have experienced before.
“I really hope young men start looking at suits and saying, ‘that’s cool, it’s not just an old man style,’” he said.
Lamell also hopes to inspire people’s creativity, as well as give advice and show others how to feel confident.
And while in most of his pictures, he looks serious, posing straight-faced, Lamell was all smiles during our interview. He doesn’t know what exactly his future holds in terms of influencing and fashion, but his overall goal is simple.
“My legacy is being a kind person,” he said. “Being a kind person with humility.”
Mohammed Al Nazal can be found on Instagram at @mohammedalnazal.
Layton Lamell can be found on Instagram at @laytonlamell.
Josh Maugans can be found on Instagram at @jm_fashion12.
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