The Brotherhood/La Hermanadad has brought together a community of men on campus who recognize their sense of belonging, confidence and sense of fashion with their weekly Neck Tie Tuesday meetings.
The Brotherhood is an organization at Montclair State University with the goal of uplifting Black and brown males in academics, social life and professional life. Neck Tie Tuesday is an initiative by the club to encourage its members to dress professionally.
Justin Sumler, a senior communication and media studies major and treasurer for The Brotherhood, elaborated on the mission of The Brotherhood from a student-executive perspective.
“A heavy component of being on The Brotherhood’s e-board is that we’re focused on changing the narrative and building professionalism among the Black and Hispanic communities,” Sumler said.
Sumler also explained the importance of Neck Tie Tuesday related to men’s fashion and part of his extracurricular responsibility.
“By participating in Neck Tie Tuesday, it is a vital component of upholding the narrative and making a presence on campus, so by showing up here and having something professional, it’s influenced my fashion because it dictates what I’m going to wear every single day to make sure I’m well dressed,” Sumler said. “I fit into that category, and I’m upholding my responsibility as an e-board member.”
Sumler highlighted how The Brotherhood can easily be incorporated into events campus-wide, especially with their choice of apparel.
“Different events on campus have a fashion theme, so being a part of the e-board, we have to attend these things, co-sponsor some and host our own, and most of the time when we have events like that, the attire is mostly formal,” Sumler said. “So having the right wardrobe, going out to different stores and buying clothes that fit with that category, it really does shape up the fashion of how I go about the semester.”
Hunter Ayala, a senior business administration major and the current president of The Brotherhood, shared how Neck Tie Tuesday helped him make an impact on his experience with the student organization, ultimately leading him becoming president.
“For me, Neck Tie Tuesday was a very important part of why I joined The Brotherhood, to destroy the stereotype that men of color can’t be as professional as any other [race],” Ayala said. “It has shaped me a lot because it helped me to understand that you can be the best person you can be but when you look better, you feel better.”
Ikenna Onyegbule, a junior information systems management major, current creative director and elected president for The Brotherhood for fall 2023, explained how the main idea of the weekly events is meant to help men both get out of and create their comfort zone.
“Most men who participate in Neck Tie Tuesday aren’t used to dressing up because that’s not really our identity,” Onyebule said. “For some people, it takes some getting used to and getting comfortable enough to dress up [like] that on a daily basis, you don’t see your peers wearing a dress shirt with slacks and a tie.”
Nyron Mitchell, a junior family development major, current event coordinator and the elected vice president of The Brotherhood for fall 2023, shared how Neck Tie Tuesdays and being in The Brotherhood have helped him get to where he is today.
“One [alumnus] who was our president last year, Tommy Foster, I always asked him for advice such as, ‘What does it take to be a better man?'” Mitchell said. “And one thing he told me which sticks into my mind is ‘image’; the way you present yourself, the way you speak, how you look.”
It may be surprising for young men to wear formal clothing on a daily basis in college. Mitchell shared how he was in that boat at one point, but changed through The Brotherhood.
“With fashion itself, I was never the type of guy to wear formal [clothes],” Mitchell said. “But once I became a part of this great organization at [Montclair State], it opened up more for me to dress formally at events for my image and to represent myself.”
Vincent Daniels, a senior justice studies major and public relations officer for The Brotherhood, also highlighted how The Brotherhood’s events have benefited him in the sense of his intentionality with fashion.
“Neck Tie Tuesday has always been the type of event to keep you on your toes,” Daniels said. “Knowing the timeframe each Tuesday to meet is at two and the professional or formal business attire, it really gets one thinking, ‘I want to plan out on how I’m going to dress for today in the best professional way and pushing that extent.'”
The Brotherhood looks to build and improve the social, collegiate and professional experiences for men around Montclair State, and Daniels also provided insight into what kind of environment his organization provides for them regardless of who they are.
“I can say I’ve had many Neck Tie Tuesdays where I’ve seen a new face of a guy who just got out of an interview or just with nice apparel and introduce him to The Brotherhood and what we stand for and understand he’s around persistence, diversity, leadership, discipline and academic excellence,” Daniels said.