As a young boy growing up in Monrovia, the capital city of the West African country Liberia, Archie Sudue fondly remembers observing his grandfather meticulously ironing his clothes and dressing for each day. Through these seemingly small yet profound daily interactions, Sudue’s deep and lasting appreciation for style was instilled.
From an early age, Sudue’s family and friends always have referred to him as “the fashion guy.” Even though uniforms were required at his school, occasional “color days” provided a chance for students to sport casual clothes. Sudue relished the opportunity to showcase his fashion bravura. He quickly garnered positive attention for his choice in attire. His classmates often confided in him for styling tips. Some of Sudue’s peers even began purchasing the shoes and shirts that he wore on previous color days.
He learned to sew as an adolescent by studying Monrovia’s neighborhood tailor. His mother, who was a designer, also taught him several sewing techniques and tricks. Sudue would continue his sewing education when he moved to the United States in his 20s.
Sudue describes his style as elegant, vintage traditional. Most days, you’ll find Sudue donning a custom-tailored suit complete with a precisely placed pocket square, exquisite tie and complementary shoes and socks. His go-to looks are a navy blue, peak lapel, single-button suit, and a charcoal gray notch lapel suit paired with white Adidas Stan Smith shoes or New Balance sneakers.
He carefully curates his entire look down to the smallest details, including thoughtfully chosen lapel pins, vintage brooches and watches. “Accessories bring out the details in what you’re wearing,” Sudue said. “I think that simplicity is elegance (when it comes to choosing accessories) and you mustn’t over-accessorize.”
The 35-year-old style consultant and boutique business owner garners inspiration from fashion icons ranging from international athletes and business moguls to pop culture personalities and characters.
Sudue admires the attention to detail that is on display in David Beckham’s suits. He also appreciates the evolution of Jay-Z’s panache over the decades and admires Whoopi Goldberg’s progressive, trendsetting looks. Also, unsurprisingly, Sudue pulls inspiration from the timelessly dapper film character James Bond.
Passion for Fashion
With the acknowledgment of his business’ impact on his neighborhood, Sudue continues finding ways to give back. He is the founder and creative director of Passion for Fashion, an annual charity runway fashion show that benefits local nonprofits.Like Mel Styles, Passion for Fashion continues to grow. Last year, the event showcased more than 20 local fashion designers, 80 models and 25 small business owners.
Facts about Archie
When he’s not running his business, he enjoys reading, drawing, soccer, basketball, traveling and learning new languages. Sudue speaks seven languages and is currently exploring elements of Chinese and the basics of Italian. He presently lives in Kentwood with his four kids and fiancé Keslyn.
Sudue moved to the United States in 2006. While he pursued a degree in civil engineering from Rochester University, his deeply rooted interest in fashion lingered. So, Sudue decided to pivot.
He completed a formal sewing course at Field’s Fabrics and fulfilled an apprenticeship with a Grand Rapids business owner. The advancement of his sewing knowledge and abilities led to job opportunities at clothing stores like Macy’s tuxedo department and Men’s Wearhouse, where he served as the manager. The bustling retail environments provided Sudue with the chance not only to continue developing his knack for fashioning custom garments but to learn about the fashion industry’s business side.
“I learned the ins and outs of the retail business,” Sudue says. “Instead of working for the money, I was working to learn as much as I could.”
Sudue graduated from SpringGR’s business training program, where he won $1,000 from a 2017 pitch competition. The same year, Sudue founded Mel Styles, a menswear boutique that inspires the professional man to dress well by providing access to affordable, custom-fitted suits. The name pays homage to his four children, Archmel, Jahmel, Carmelo and Melangel.
In addition to the retail end of the business, Mel Styles provides personal styling, wardrobe analysis, maintenance and bespoke services.
“I learned the ins and outs
of the retail business. Instead of working for the money, I was working to learn as much as I could.”
Sudue says that educating his customers about fabrics, styles and the importance of paying attention to the details is particularly rewarding. “Many guys don’t pay attention to what they’re wearing because they feel it doesn’t matter,” Sudue said. “I help teach and encourage young men to dress well through education and access.”
After three years in business, Mel Styles is thriving. Sudue has had his designs prominently featured in fashion shows across the country, including New York and LA Fashion Weeks and shows in Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Even with the acclaim, Sudue understands that the journey to success doesn’t come without immense grit and hustle, plus the capability to overcome some “speedbumps” along the way. In 2018, while still operating Mel Styles out of his Kentwood basement, Sudue had numerous clients coming in and out of his home each day for styling appointments and to buy suits. The influx of visitors drew misplaced ire from neighbors.
Sudue recalls an instance when a neighbor called the police on him because they thought he was selling drugs out of his home. That’s when he knew that Mel Styles had outgrown his basement and a brick-and-mortar store was necessary to house his growing business.
Mel Styles is now located at 315 S. Division Ave. The store has allowed Sudue to continue serving more people.