Behind the scenes of a high-fashion suit photoshoot
It’s not so difficult to buy a crazy suit.
Nowadays anyone can just stroll into retailers like Kohl’s or TJ Maxx and find the suit equivalent of the ugly Christmas sweater.
The real question, though: Who would be so daring as to wear these prints in public?
Turns out plenty of Wichitans are, and they each have their own reasons for doing so.
We’ve rounded up a few locals who have become known for their penchant for the patterned suit, and we’ll leave it up to you to decide: Whose suit game is strongest?
Andy McFayden has not one, not two, but eight Christmas-themed suits.
McFayden, who works as executive director of marketing at WSU Tech, clearly recognizes the value of being noticed.
His suit shopping spree began three years ago, when he started volunteering as a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army.
He first bought a Christmas-themed suit as a way to attract attention ringing bells, he said.
“I’m not afraid to make an idiot of myself in public,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone was so nice and fell in love with it.”
Since then, he’s been known to wear wacky suits around town not only for bell-ringing, but for WSU Tech’s own social-media promotions.
“Every time I wear it, by the time I leave my house to the time I get to where I’m going, I’ve taken at least a couple selfies with rando people,” he said. “It’s crazy. Anytime you stop in a QuikTrip or a Dillons, it’s like, ‘Hey, can I get a picture with you?’”
He enjoys that his wardrobe choices make other people happy, he said.
“It’s just crazy the social barrier that it breaks down — it makes people so happy and you’re just walking along in a crazy suit,” he said. “It’s such a silly, simple thing.”
As a Wichita city council member, Bryan Frye is a pretty recognizable guy.
Especially when he’s wearing his custom-made Wichita flag suit.
Frye says he had the suit fabricated at local band-uniform supplier Fruhauf earlier this year, all in a quest to find an eye-catching getup to wear for parades.
“I wore it in the River Festival parade this year, and that’s really what began my obsession with crazy suits,” Frye said.
“It’s one of those things when people see it, they automatically comment on it and they usually want to take a picture with it. It just continues to spread the Wichita pride.”
In addition to the Wichita-flag suit, Frye has an American-flag suit and a light-up Christmas suit.
Like others with patterned suits, he wears them as a volunteer bell-ringer for The Salvation Army.
“When I wore the Wichita flag suit I guarantee you my donations increased, because people noticed it,” he said. “They hear the bells ringing, they see the suit ... and they usually end up donating.”
Frye wouldn’t say how much the suit, which took three months to fabricate, cost.
But for those interested in their own Wichita-flag suit, Fruhauf now has the pattern. Contact the company at 316-263-7500 or at www.fruhauf.com and inquire about Wichita-flag suits. You can expect to pay few hundred dollars for it.
Derek Sorrells is the co-owner of The Arcade, Old Town’s popular retro arcade at 139 N. Mead.
But even if you didn’t know that, you could probably piece it together by checking his suit.
Sorrells frequently wears a suit patterned after the classic “Pac-Man” game — and recently he even purchased a Christmas-themed “Pac-Man” suit.
“It’s kind of like you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day — this will now be my winter ‘Pac-Man’ suit and my summer ‘Pac-Man’ suit,” Sorrells said.
He first bought the suit online to wear to a party, where it was an immediate hit, he said.
“Without regard to language or culture, everybody knows ‘Pac-Man,’” he said. “It kind of transcends any kind of language barrier or cultural barrier. It just became kind of fun to wear.”
It’s a surefire conversation-starter, he said — which he leverages to tell people about The Arcade.
“You don’t even have to be the one to break the ice — they ask you about it,” he said. “There aren’t many things, being an adult, where you get to dress up other than maybe a Halloween party. It kind of allows you to be a kid and have fun at the same time.”
Brad Warzeka didn’t choose the Christmas suit — it chose him.
As a volunteer bell-ringer with The Salvation Army, Warzeka befriended McFayden, who by that time was well-entrenched in the crazy-suit world.
“I noticed him in the suit and I said, ‘OK, I see that and I’ll raise him,’” Warzeka said. “I bought the suit and it’s done wonders. It really does create a lot of attention and awareness — and any positive attention like that can help The Salvation Army.”
But Warzeka doesn’t necessarily relish the spotlight.
He sports the Christmas suit for bell-ringing, but not for much else. He declined to wear it for a company ugly sweater party where he works at Cargill, because “I don’t see it as ugly,” he said with a laugh.
“I don’t really crave a lot of attention — it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with, but you put yourself in that position (as a bell-ringer),” he said. “You know you’re going to get attention doing it, and any attention is directly impacting The Salvation Army’s bottom line for their campaign.
“It’s something I’ve grown to love.”