"I've become infatuated with furs as of late," Marquis Phifer says without a hint of irony. "I counted the other day, I have like 15."
It's not hard to find photos of Phifer on his five-year-old fashion blog, LateBoots.com, donning a chinchilla vest, custom-tailored denim, or a pair of Stubbs & Wootton velvet slippers while striking that elusive sideways pose his friends like to call "Phifer face." But his sense of style — "casual luxury," he says — is only a means to an end. Identifying that end, however, is the tricky part. It's not that Phifer can't define what he does, but it's sort of his job to keep us guessing.
"People ask me that all the time, what do I do. And that's a question I've never answered because it's almost like, what don't I do," says the Morehouse College senior and business major. "I'm able to kind of do everything that needs to be done."
Marquis Phifer is a master of mystique if nothing else — but there's always something else when Phifer's involved, and it usually comes with a check attached. Lifestyle marketer: Check. Fashion blogger: Check. Stylist: Check. Socialite: Check. As the Atlanta ambassador for the Heineken brand for two years running, he's amassed his talents for signature event planning and branding to plaster a pocket of the city with his young, flagrant, and flamboyant trademark. In the process, he's become a brand unto himself, an influencer and cultivator of cool whose lifestyle offers proof that decadence is the new black.
In essence, Phifer's "job title" is cultural translator. "Major brands don't know how to talk to [us]," he says. "So I become the mediator between me and my friends, [who] are the consumers, and kind of bring the language down to a level where both parties understand each other."
Most of his connections (fellow Morehouse men and fashion magnates, Coltrane Curtis and Fonzworth Bentley) and clients (Jay-Z's Rocawear line) have come as a result of his blog, which he runs with partner Sham. Phifer considers it an online extension of himself, one where the line between personal interests and professional pursuits is seamless. His ethos — think like a rich man but work like a broke one — enables him to balance school with a monster work ethic and regular trips to New York, where he spends summers interning. He's distilled a bit of NYC's exclusivity into Atlanta nightlife, throwing invite-only parties at the Sound Table, New Era, and his favorite Atlanta spot, the W Hotel in Midtown, where he co-hosted a #COOL party in November.
"Because my friends [are] the best-looking people in Atlanta, the most fashionable, it's kind of like a generation of tastemakers that I've aligned myself with."
While he plans to continue representing Heineken in Atlanta through 2012, a move to the fashion capital New York seems likely for him. "I can't say just yet," says Phifer, content to keep us guessing for now.