Interview: Aziz Ansari

Photographer Jennifer Graylock
February 08, 2013

Aziz Ansari's character Tom on Parks and Recreation is a known fashion fan, buying all his clothes from the little boys department at Brooks Brothers and wearing LED belt buckles. But Ansari loves style in real life, too, and has long been a fan of L.A. label Band of Outsider's preppy take on the classics (designer Scott Sternberg is pictured above with Ansari). Last night he hosted a little party to celebrate Band's New York Fashion Week men's show in midtown Manhattan and we asked him about his style inspirations.

Your character Tom on Parks and Recreation loves fashion. Do you too? I do, I love suits and stuff. Early in Parks, I met with them about like, What is this guy going to be like? And I was like, Let’s make him really into suits. I try to keep a little bit of difference between my style and Tom’s style. Tom, they’ll bring me a suit, and I’ll be like, That’s a little too Aziz. Let’s throw in a purple fedora and make it a little more Tom.

Are you, like, checking menswear on all the time? Yeah, yeah, I follow them on Tumblr.

Do you have any fashion don’ts? I don’t think so.

What about fashion dos? Go to a tailor. And know what you’re doing. Try! Most guys don’t try at all.

Were you a sneaker freak growing up? I wasn’t a huge sneaker guy, but I had Jordans and stuff when I was a little kid, but now I don’t wear sneakers too much.

Do you spend a crapload of money on clothes? I do like to buy suits and stuff. I spend a lot on cheeseburgers too, so I don’t know.

Do you think Tom is a fashion victim or a fashion tastemaker? I think Tom knows what’s he’s doing. He’s a little bit bolder than I am, probably in a good way, sometimes.

What do you like about Band of Outsiders? I’ve known them for a few years, and their stuff is simple, but it’s like really well-cut, especially for smaller-framed gentleman such as myself. So much stuff, you have to tailor the fuck out of it if you’re a smaller dude, if you’re not husky.

Your character on Parks loves music, loves T-Pain, loves Ginuwine. What do you listen to? I listen to rap music. I think people think I just listen to rap music which is not true. I got that new My Bloody Valentine record, which I think is cool. I got this album by one of the guys from Real Estate, a solo project called Ducktails. I like that a lot.

Any musicians you think have good style? I don’t know, I don’t spend too much time looking at photos of musicians and judging their clothes.

Also, I have to say: You are one of the few men I know who can pull off a bow tie. I couldn’t wear one. Yea you could! Just wear a suit and put a bow tie on it. You gotta learn how to tie it though. I tied this one myself. There’s a sense of pride when you tie it yourself.

How’d you learn? I just watched the videos on YouTube to learn. But now I’m pretty good and I don’t have to watch the videos anymore. Every now and then bow tie related events come up and I got pretty good at it.

Interview: Aziz Ansari