How can you resist a man in cascading dreads, dressed in a crisp mix of preppy funk, who bemoans not being able to wear his cummerbunds because of the weight he’s gained eating with his pregnant wife? Coltrane often found himself running out in TriBeCa at 4 AM to find cream of mushroom soup to satisfy the cravings. At the time of this interview, he had already read three parenting books. His future son Ellington (as in the Duke, like Coltrane’s own namesake, John Coltrane) will not only be the recipient of a doting Dad– he’ll be getting his Dad’s walk-in closet for a room, and, depending on his shoe size, heir to Coltrane’s massive collection of 1,200 (and counting) sneakers and shoes which he’s amassed since the 7th grade. “Precision,” when it comes to the classics, is an understatement for Coltrane. Ralph Lauren’s casually elegant American style has been an obsession for him since high school. “I’m either wearing an old pair of Agassi Nikes, or a pair of Timberland boat shoes– or all white Rod Lavers or Stan Smiths in the Summertime,” he says. Of the Timberland boots that he wears with a cream and navy piping Rugby jacket and his quintessential Americana jeans from Earnest Sewn, he says, “I’m channeling old, rich, white men– in a ‘street corner sexy’ way.”
The older “cool cats” who dress up as a way of life is where Coltrane learned the power of “always looking like you’re going to your job.” A meticulous dresser, his “pops” drove a blue Karmann Ghia for its looks, not its practicality, instilling in Coltrane the idea that making yourself visually memorable made you ready to leap on any opportunity that might present itself. Simply by wearing a tuxedo (that his father insisted he own), he was able to sneak into a CFDA dinner as a young man. (Shhh!) John Coltrane, Slick Rick, the Black Panthers, Spike Lee, and the Tuskeegee Airmen are among his icons, and you can see it in his “ying yang” between prep, his childhood roots in the “hood,” and his “NYC ‘Till I Die” aesthetic. “I’m caught in a time warp,” he says. “I’m 35, but I feel like I’m 65,” still preferring Outkast and Frank Sinatra on his iPod. Coltrane mixes formal and informal like a religion. By example, Malcolm X-inspired vintage frames with a linen tweed three peice suit that he cut into a schoolboy shorts-suit– Huck Finn-style, white Bottega bucks with red borders and his signature fitted baseball cap.
Some people, when they’re stressed out, go to yoga, but Coltrane goes straight to his favorite barber in Brooklyn.“If your beard isn’t right, nothing is,” he says. It’s one of his mottos, among much sage advice like, the logos on your socks should match your sneakers; never rock Nike and Adidas at the same time; and a man should invest in his undies. Coltrane says he would have liked to be a fashion stylist– and he is, in many ways. “You have to have the staples before you can have the red cords,” he says, emphasizing the basics– A tux, denim jackets in blue and off-white, a blue blazer, a pair of Stan Smiths, Rod Lavers, Air Force Ones, Vans, Chuck Taylors, a good pair of jeans, oxfords, and a proper bowtie… and a gray zip hoody to wear under a tux or a blue blazer. “It goes with everything, its a staple,” but you really have to check out Coltrane’s metallic cognac wingtips, that “kind of go with everything,” and that he could not resist, nevertheless.