Model - Nate Van Fleet
Stylist - Zachary Roland
Photographer - Zachary Roland
Nate Van Fleet is a professional rock and jazz drummer here in Omaha. He plays in Little Brazil and See Through Dresses, as well as several jazz combos around town. We had our photoshoot in Benson, after grabbing some coffee at Aromas. After our shoot, we made our way back to Nate's house for a short interview.
Tell me about yourself. What do you do? What’s important to you?
My name is Nate Van Fleet. I’m 24 and I’m a musician. What’s important to me? That’s a pretty big question.
Well, what are some hobbies?
Music, Coffee, Art. That’s about it. Karate.
So how would you describe your style?
I try to model my style after some of my favorite musicians. So I’ve spent a lot of time staring at photos of Bob Dylan, Julian Casablancas, Elvis Costello. Eighties rock bands like Blondie, The Cure, and The Smiths. I get a lot of inspiration from people like that.
When did you realize fashion was something that was important to you?
I think when I was a freshman in college. They say a lot of people get the freshman forty, but I lost forty pounds that year because I was cycling to all of my classes every day. All of a sudden I felt like I could wear whatever I wanted. So I started exploring more slim fitting clothes and other things I had seen people wear and thought were really cool but didn’t think I could pull off before.
So you were in an environment with all these new people. Like a blank slate?
Yeah, kind of. I think it was more that I suddenly had an opportunity to try something new, so I did.
So I’m doing this project to highlight people in Omaha that I think have a specific sense of style, because I think Omaha has a reputation for not having any fashion sense or style at all. So you were born here in Omaha?
Yep, here in Millard.
What are some of your favorite things about Omaha in general?
I love the Omaha arts community. I love the coffee scene. I love all the music venues. The neighborhoods.
"I spend a lot of time on tour, so I really try to go for stuff that will layer well in almost any situation."
Photo by Zachary Roland
Do you think living in Omaha has had any influence on your sense of style?
I think there’s a thrifty-ness that comes out of the midwest. Almost everyone I know likes going to thrift shops, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a thing everywhere else. There’s a lot of great thrift shopping in Omaha. We have so many good thrift shops.
Narfoof closed, though.
Yeah, rest in peace. I miss that shop already. I actually worked at Goodwill when I was in high-school so I got really good at spotting the gems. But, I also learned the value of finding something you like that might be a bit too big and getting it tailored to fit you.
Do you use fashion as an outer expression of yourself?
I try to just pick stuff that I feel comfortable in. But, I think a lot of the stuff that I wear is an outer expression of myself as an artist. I want to present that vibe and not just look like everyone else.
How has your style evolved over time?
Up until high school I just wore whatever. Then I learned what Urban Outfitters was and started shopping there a lot. So I started to wear more Levi’s and trucker jackets and flannel. I’ve moved out of that phase. I went through a pretty big thrifting phase were I was just buying all sorts of strange shit at thrift stores and getting it tailored so it would fit me better. Since then I’ve tried to be more strategic. Buying less, but buying higher quality clothes.
I’ve noticed you have a really pared down wardrobe. It’s almost like “French Wardrobe.”
Yeah, it’s based off the french wardrobe idea. Although, I’m not as strict with myself. I have a bin of clothes for spring, summer, fall, and winter, and each season I try to go through and pick out the stuff that I think I’m gonna want to wear that season, repair the stuff that needs to be fixed. Maybe pick out a few new pieces that are higher quality. Then I just kind of stick with that stuff day in day out. I try to find new combinations of outfits that work.
"A lot of the stuff that I wear is an outer expression of myself as an artist. I want to present that vibe and not just look like everyone else."
Photo by Zachary Roland
I think it’s cool when you have a small amount of clothing. It really makes you think about how different items can pair together.
I try to pick one or two pieces that are kind of out there. Statement pieces. But I mostly try to pick stuff that’s pretty utilitarian. I spend a lot of time on tour, so I like to keep a lot of clothes that I can layer. I want to know that I’m gonna feel good in just a t-shirt and pants. But, if it gets cooler I can still throw a sweater over it and look good. Or if it gets even cooler I can throw a jacket on over that, or a coat. So I really try to go for stuff that will layer well in almost any situation. Or un-layer well. So I’m also thinking, will this still look good if I have to take something off.
What are some fashion mistakes you’ve made?
I went through a phase when I was just learning what fashion was were I was heavily critiquing other people’s outfits. Like I was just a fucking know it all. I was the guy who was telling everyone that their belt and shoes didn’t match. I was really aggressive about which suit buttons were supposed to be buttoned. I’ve since then backed off on that because most people don’t really care.
I feel like a lot of people go through that phase. Like, “I care about this, so I’m gonna project that onto everyone.”
Yeah, so I just try to worry about my own shit at this point. I also used to just buy a lot of fast fashion. So my wardrobe would sort of depend on what H&M or Urban Outfitters were selling that season. So I wasn’t really doing my own thing. Now I pick a few things that I’m looking for, like I’m looking for a pair of tan suede Chelseas. And then I try and find the best pair of tan suede Chelsea boots that I can find. I don’t worry so much about if that’s something that I can just walk into a store and buy immediately.
You’re looking for more specific pieces. Not like you’re just shopping the look of a certain brand.
"I was the guy who was telling everyone that their belt and shoes didn’t match. I was really aggressive about which suit buttons were supposed to be buttoned. I’ve since then backed off on that because most people don’t really care."
Photo by Zachary Roland
That doesn’t mean I won’t go into a store and check out what’s there. Because I might find something that fits in with what I’m going for. But, most of the time it’s not really productive.
Do you have a go-to outfit? What is it?
It’s my black H&M skinny jeans, black Allen Edmonds oxfords, a black and white striped t-shirt from Everlane. That’s my go to.
What are your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
I actually just bought the first four or five shirts that I’ve ever owned from Everlane, and they’re amazing. The quality is so great. They’re so basic, but they’re so well made and they fit so well. It’s insane. I got a black and white striped shirt that’s become my favorite t-shirt. A blue linen short sleeved button up that really comfortable. It’s been awesome all summer because it’s lightweight and you can wear it tucked or untucked. Did you say new? New things?
No, just your favorite pieces. They can be something you’ve had for a long time. But if it’s those shirts then it’s those shirts.
I just found this old Wrangler jean jacket with a corduroy collar at a thrift store that I really love. Really stoked on that.
"I think there’s a thrifty-ness that comes out of the midwest. There’s a lot of great thrift shopping in Omaha."
Photo by Zachary Roland
You mentioned you get a lot of your inspiration from musicians that you enjoy. Do you get inspiration from anywhere else? Do you have any favorite designers or brands? Or art that inspires you?
I would say I get inspiration from film. Filmmakers. There are a few directors that have a really specific style, I’m sure they have a strong hand in the wardrobe. Like Wes Anderson. Everyone in his films is immaculately dressed. Or immaculately poorly dressed, which is also interesting. It’s put there on purpose. Jim Jarmusch. Films like Only Lovers Left Alivewith Tom Hiddleston. The way he dresses is great. Well, he’s a musician in that movie, but he’s like a vampire musician.
If you were a cartoon character, so you open up your closet and it’s the same outfit on repeat, what would that outfit be? Would it be the same as your go to outfit?
I actually think about this a lot. There was a phase where I dressed like Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore, which is a Wes Anderson film. He plays a boarding school student. Like khakis and a button up, a striped tie and a navy blazer. I’ve always thought that that look with nicer items would be really cool. Like the preppy, boarding school look. I went through a phase where I was wearing that every day. It was weird but it was really fun. If I was a cartoon character I would be wearing that.