At just 23 years old, Ashton Sanders has achieved a lot in a short time. After appearing in 2015 NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, he broke out in 2016 as a teenage Chiron in the Oscar-winning Moonlight, cementing his place as one of the most exciting up-and-coming actors in Hollywood. Since then, he’s appeared in projects with Chloe x Halle, including the video for their latest track “Happy Without Me,” and starred alongside Denzel Washington in last year’s The Equalizer 2.
This year, his star is set to ascend again when he takes the lead in the film adaptation of Richard Wright’s acclaimed 1940 novel Native Son. And last month he was cast as RZA in Hulu’s Wu-Tang Clan bio-series Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
But it’s not just Sander’s impressive acting resume that makes him one to watch. You should be taking note of the man’s style, too.
The son of a fashion designer, Sanders’ immersion in all things sartorial started young. Today, he cites André 3000 as his fashion idol, championing the rapper for his expressive style. Sanders also loves the ’60s aesthetic, telling Vanity Fair he draws inspiration from mod style, The Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, and The Beach Boys, which is why you’ll see him in looks featuring high-water pants, white socks, and Dr. Martens.
He might be young, but in a few short years, Sanders has already served up a number of fire looks. Below you’ll find a roundup of some of our favorites.
Sundance Film Festival, 2019
Wearing: Thrasher hoodie, Carhartt jacket, and his go-to rolled-up beanie.
Sanders was at Sundance this year to promote Native Son, taking part in a photo shoot with fellow cast members in a casual all-black ’fit that subtly played with volume and texture, pairing tailored trousers with a tucked-in Thrasher hoodie and cropped Carhartt jacket.
Calvin Klein FW18 New York Fashion Week show, 2018
Wearing: Head-to-toe Calvin Klein 205W39NYC x Andy Warhol Foundation denim and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC steel-capped boots.
Sanders arrived at Calvin Klein’s Fall/Winter 2018 show in February 2018 decked out in blue Sandra Brant denim from the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC x Andy Warhol Foundation collab. The partnership gave Raf Simons unprecedented access to the artist’s archive and is one of many ’fits that show Sanders isn’t afraid to commit fully to a look.
Calvin Klein FW17 New York Fashion Week show, 2017
Wearing: COS, Dickies jacket, and Oakley sunglasses, with a white bandana tied around the wrist.
For Calvin Klein’s Fall/Winter 2017 show, Sanders decided to dabble with a slightly more accessible ’fit that incorporated color-blocking (in tan, no less), volume, and cultural nods. His oversized Dickies jacket is the obvious focus and somewhat reminiscent of the gargantuan cover-ups sported on runways everywhere from OFF-WHITE to Balenciaga — only this one is actually wearable and affordable.
The accessories also carry sartorial weight. The white bandana wrist-tie nods to The Business of Fashion‘s call to wear a white bandana as “a sign to the world that you believe in the common bonds of humankind — regardless of race, sexuality, gender, or religion.”
Meanwhile, the Oakley shades show a guy that knows when a brand’s set to make a comeback before anyone else catches on. It wasn’t until Heron Preston and Alexander Wang put Oakley eyewear in their SS19 shows that most people started to take note.
SAG Awards, 2017
Wearing: Tiger of Sweden suit and Dr. Martens.
In 2017, Sanders hit the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in a beautiful, embroidered suit by Swedish heritage brand Tiger of Sweden, emphasizing its almost ’60s beatnik-style cut by pairing it with a black polo neck and Doc Martens.
InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes post-party, 2018
Wearing: Calvin Klein 205W39NYC x Andy Warhol Foundation jacket, black trousers, and Dr. Martens boots.
Rather than going head-to-toe in the Calvin Klein x Andy Warhol collab, this time Sanders made the jacket the focus by pairing it with simple black jeans and Dr. Martens boots, whose yellow stitching subtly complimented the jacket’s print. He finished the look with an additional color pop via a red tasseled keychain.
Met Gala, 2017
Wearing: Head-to-toe Calvin Klein leather.
For his first ever Met Gala red carpet moment, Sanders skipped traditional tailoring and instead went for a haute cowboy aesthetic, channeling the ultimate style gods via this all-leather look from Raf Simons’ debut Calvin Klein collection. The look was styled with a yellow turtleneck and burgundy patent leather cowboy boots, both also from Simons’ Calvin Klein collection.
Vanity Fair Oscars after-party, 2017
Wearing: Teddy-bear coat, slim jacket and tie, Fear of God kilt, and Vans Sk8-His.
Sanders dialed up a wild business-up-top, Scottish-skateboard-party-down-below look for his post-Oscars vibe in 2017. This before gender-fluid fashion had really started to find its footing in the mainstream — of course now fully embraced by the likes of A$AP Rocky and Ezra Miller. Going for a plaid kilt flex was bold; adding a pair of high-top Vans and a fur coat was even better.
InStyle Golden Globes award season kickoff party, 2016
Wearing: Public School camo suit, black polo neck, black beanie, and patent Dr. Martens.
Standing out in a sea of tuxedos, Sanders brought a different kind of formal attire to InStyle’s Golden Globe awards season launch party in November 2016. Rather than standard black, his nod to the event’s glitz and glamor came in metallic camo on a two-piece suit by NYC label Public School. The young actor’s effortless swag meant he pulled off the look with no trouble, adding a touch of subtlety with a simple black polo neck and patent leather Docs.
In other news, check out our most recent episode of The Dropcast with The Sartorialist below.