The Reverend’s New Clothes

Al Sharpton’s Fashion Journey

Now that the sweatsuits have disappeared, where do you get these fancier duds? A friend of mine took me to his designer, Eduardo, uptown, and told me, "Pick whatever two suits you want." That's when I came up with the kind of suit I like: the vest with lapels under the jacket. Now it's almost become an image thing that everybody identifies with me, but why I like it is because on someone heavy, full-chested, it deflates the look—so you look at the lapels, you don't look at the girth. It was the right style for me—almost a banker look, but a little different. I've never wanted to just blend in, but at the same time I didn't want to look too out there. The only suits other than those from this guy Eduardo that I get are, like this coat, from Rochester Big and Tall Men.

It's a pretty expensive-looking coat. Once or twice a year Don King will come to town and we'll go shopping, and of course he pays for everything. I bought this coat—Rochester had to fit it to me—and about five suits and shoes. We just go shopping! Don can afford it. I don't even know how much it cost. Don and I went shopping one other day, and I think it came to, like, $15,000. I could never pay that kind of money, but I certainly wasn't going to turn it down.

Well, since you brought it up, you're actually looking pretty slim these days. How'd you get the weight off? One meal a day! Cut down on your fried food and your starches! No sugar! And I do the treadmill an hour every morning. I get up at 5:30 every morning, even if I'm on the road. I try to stay at a hotel that's near a spa.

So, Reverend, what did you think of the recent New York Times article that questioned who pays for your new clothes? That article was more a reflection of the cultural makeup of The New York Times! In the black community, it's customary for people to give gifts to their ministers! It's customary! You represent the community! Who wants somebody to go on Face the Nationand look like they can't polish their shoes? If you're telling somebody you're going to be their mayor or their senator, you can't dress like a hip-hop producer. On the other hand, if I think I'm going to spend the night in jail, I'm not going to wear one of my Eduardo suits.

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