The first things to catch your eye are his dark emerald green eyebrows. Not just green, but gradient — an even layer of hair chalk following his natural arch and lightening at the ends to a subtle lime. The eyebrows pop against his tan complexion, and your eyes trail to the crisp collar of his black, short sleeved button-down, printed with daisies and small Veronicas. Even before examining his creased army green slacks and brown leather boots, one thing is clear: nursing sophomore Robert Henry Miles III, or “Tré” as he is affectionately known, is trendy. Story and Photos by Samantha Jogenia Grasso
Miles’ closet does not have a running theme, but holds many pieces that define his taste. Throughout the wardrobe, you can see his affinity for high-waist styles, crop tops, overalls and crisp, clean pleats. As for fabrics, Miles loves velvet and sheer chiffon. While he dismisses the idea that his inspiration for fashion stems from just wearing what he likes, he admits that he targets clothes with history. “I wouldn’t say I look toward any person [to emulate]. Because I’m mostly into thrift shopping, I usually like … stuff with a story,” Miles explains.
A Texan at heart, Miles claims himself to be “anti-winter” and resents the style season change. Although the weather has been sporadic in recent weeks, he refuses to cover his style with bulky coats and cold weather accessories. Instead, he follows a tame shift between his summer and winter wardrobe and more denim, sweaters and collared printed shirts appear in his look. “I love summer, so this transition is like hell for me. I usually make do with finding things like thicker fabrics or long-sleeved [clothing],” Miles says.
As for the colored eyebrows, Miles reveals that he doesn’t have a specific reason for the color change. Last year, he bleached his hair blonde for the first time and loved the contrast between his hair and skin. While he doesn’t typically wear accessories or makeup, Miles tells ORANGE that his colored eyebrows act as a subtle, yet signature, way to accessorize and provide the contrast that he missed about his hair. “One girl came up to me in one of my classes and said … she colored [her eyebrows] temporarily for a day because she saw me. That’s awesome to me. It’s nice to have a little trademark,” he says.
Miles says that the reaction he gets about his clothing choices are positive, but mixed, with some spectators seeming interested but confused. When his style was in its earlier stages, he says that it was easier for people to accept because it came in “doses,” but with his transition to items like crop tops and thigh-high socks, the acceptance has been more distant. Even going back to his hometown in Corpus Christi gets him a few double takes and side-glances, but Miles says it’s nothing he can’t handle. “It’s one of those things I’ve actually come to enjoy. My mentality about it now is that, whether you like it or you hate it, if you’re looking at me, I’ve got your attention with what I’m wearing. In my mind, I’m doing something right,” Miles says.
Miles says he didn’t start to dress in his current style until his freshman year of high school, but he has always had an eye for fashion and recalls being in second grade and drawing models. From his eighth grade year, he remembers his first memorable piece that caught his attention: a pair of zebra-patterned DC skateboarder shoes with different exterior designs and blue pleather lining. “I was always kind of a poor kid, so every school year… we would go out and shop and we’d all be able to buy one pair of [brand] shoes … Everyone was into them, and that’s when I noticed I had an eye for something,” Miles says. “It was that moment that kind of set it off, ‘Oh, maybe there’s something here?’” he adds.
Out of all of the diverse fabrics and patterns in Miles’ wardrobe, there are a few pieces that stand out among the rest. His shoulder cut-out crop top tips a hat at his obsession with the Spice Girls, “both before and after Ginger,” while a blue flower crown calls to last year’s Halloween when he dressed up as Lana Del Rey in her “Born to Die” music video. “I bought this gorgeous vintage wedding dress. It was beautiful and … I died because it cut me in everyway. My friend Olivia Contreras … helped me make [the crown]. I don’t wear it but I keep it up cause I love it,” Miles says.
Most striking of Miles’ pieces are two red and black velvet dresses that typically stay on the rack. While he wouldn’t mind wearing them out on the street, Miles disagrees with the lack of gender neutrality in clothing and doesn’t wear the dresses because he wants to wear them as if they’re just another piece of clothing — without the stigma that they’re designed for women. “If a normal frat guy started wearing a dress as an actual clothing choice, then it would be more [acceptable], but because it’s assumed weird for me, it would be more of a statement, and I don’t want it to be. And that’s what I hate — going out [in the dress] is a statement. It’s something ‘crazy,’ something ‘ridiculous,’” Miles says.
Miles’ love for fashion grows beyond his personal wardrobe. Although he anticipated studying nursing, he plans to transfer to the School of Human Ecology to study retail merchandizing through the textiles and apparel program. Miles explains that professionals in the retail merchandising business tend to be “trend forecasters,” instead of trendsetters. “With retail merchandising, it’s more like we work along with companies, and we’re kind of the buyers … for styles,” Miles said.
His first semester at UT, Miles joined the University Fashion Group and is now the assistant art director for the organization. Through the organization, he volunteers at local fashion shows every one to three weeks. Miles has even acquired a pricy Marc Jacobs fur through a fashion show after being recognized for his style by Daniel Esquivel, local fashion designer and Project Runway Season 11 contestant. “[Daniel] said, ‘I got this fur from Mood in New York while doing a Fashion Week show. Here, you can have it.’ I was like, ‘Wait, what? You’re kidding me right now.’ I genuinely thought he was lying, like he was going to take it up after and have his security take it from me, but he said, ‘No, I want you to have this. I remembered you [from a previous fashion show] and I think you should always inspire greatness,’” Miles recalls.
While Miles continues his groundwork in the fashion industry and enjoys the occasional comment on his appearance, his thoughts on self-image are more than skin-deep. He stresses that he is no different than anyone else and reiterates that confidence is key. Miles says that looking back, 12-year-old Tré would be self-conscious and worry about judgment if he wore the clothes he wears today. Over the years, he has learned to be confident and unashamed for what he loves to wear. “Don’t ever limit yourself when it comes to clothing, gender, size, whatever it is. Out of all the things we can wear, and all the things we have to worry about, clothing shouldn’t be that big of a concern,” Miles says. “Be confident in yourself, because you only have one body. Appreciate it,” he adds.