I walked into Lucky Strike Restaurant on a Sunday afternoon not knowing I would step out connecting and understanding another individual on a personal level. Kevin Charles Stewart, the owner and designer for Old School Shirt Makers and frequent patron of Lucky Strike, accepted my invitation to sit down for coffee as we discussed numerous topics from his unbeaten path as a designer to the viral images of him on the Internet.
Old School Shirt Makers specializes in shirt making, which are produced in the United States with a uniquely American taste level and sensibility. “Updated Traditionalist” is how Kevin would describe his line. With a distinct demeanor and style, Kevin aptly earned the alias “Professor Badass” after The Sartorialist photographed him several years ago. Fans soon tagged the photo of Kevin strutting down the street in a steampunk-like outfit with “Professor Badass – If he was wearing a gold pocket watch on a chain, the universe would freeze solid from the coolness”. As much fun as it was talking about how fans would imbed his photo in movie stills such as Wyatt Earp, there was something besides his coolness and passion for creating solid menswear that intrigued me further: his journey as a designer while diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The story of suddenly becoming housebound for years and finding himself was almost a mirror story of myself as I struggled with the psychological pain of coping with juvenile glaucoma and partial blindness in my early 20’s. The public may view us as flawless, but there’s so much more behind the curtains and many obstacles goes unnoticed – I, for one, sometime have difficulty pouring drinks into glasses because my depth of perception is off. I have a profound respect for Kevin’s courage to openly share this information and his ability to transform his condition into positive energy, and towards his passion for menswear. But most importantly, it strengthens my belief that all the obstacles any of us overcome in our paths will make all the difference.