In our book, what you do, not just how you dress, is a cornerstone of great style. Meet six difference- makers—from the blade runner breaking records to the golf icon restyling the links—all photographed at S.D.’s avant-garde, 100-year-old landmark, Balboa Park. Now presenting: The A list.
Anyone remotely familiar with golf, or athleticwear in general, knows the Ashworth brand, but not so much the man himself. And he is the man. Universally respected for revolutionizing the golf apparel game in the late ‘80s, John Ashworth went from being his dad’s caddy to becoming the hands-on designer and poster boy for looking fashionable on and off the course. “I’m a So-Cal guy,” says Ashworth, whose own fashion sense “connects the coastal lifestyle with the golf world.” And while he sold his namesake company years ago, he says he’s ready to revolutionize the industry yet again. “I always knew I’d find my way back,” says Ashworth. “I think I’m good at it. Why not give it a shot?” Why not, indeed. Since launching four years ago, Ashworth’s Oceanside-based Linksoul effortlessly blends smart-casual golf clothes with a surfer-chic aesthetic (“No polyester!”). “My whole goal is for nongolfers to go, ‘I’d wear that.’” In the meantime, pros and enthusiasts alike are coming to Ashworth for threads. From Mark Wahlberg and surf god Kelly Slater to U.S. Open champs Lucas Glover and Geoff Ogilvy, they’ve all been spotted in Linksoul togs. A branding master, Ashworth also incubated Linksoul Lab, an art gallery at the company’s Oceanside headquarters (the last show was standing room only), and was recently tapped to oversee a multimillion-dollar makeover of the Center City Golf Course (now called Goat Hill Park), complete with a swanky new pro shop and bar, eco-friendly grounds design and free golf clinics for the kiddos. “I didn’t want to be a caddy for the rest of my life,” laughs the humble Ashworth. “I’m not sure I’ve made it yet, but this works for me.”
Opening five new restaurants in a year might seem excessive, but we’re talking about Arsalun Tafazoli here. “I have a very one-dimensional existence. Plus, it keeps me at 6 percent body fat,” says the scholar of sarcasm and the self-described social engineer who started his S.D. empire, CH Projects, nine years ago with Neighborhood, following it up with UnderBelly, Soda & Swine, Polite Provisions, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Rare Form, etc. His latest, Kindred, a nod to “vegan death metal,” is slated for South Park. This from a man who recently wrapped his office in custom wallpaper of a blood-spattered Patrick Bateman—one of his style icons—from the cult film American Psycho. So, yes, it’s all very ambitious. Tafazoli’s personal style is defined by highs (YSL driving loafers) and lows (Supreme denim jacket emblazoned with the F-word). Early in his career, Tafazoli said he downplayed his style. “Now I go to a meeting in this jacket,” he says of his Supreme statement piece. “I’ve earned the right to wear what I want.” For the well-honed veneer of his venues, Tafazoli says he taps into history, not trends, be it the Chairman Mao plant wall at UnderBelly or Jesus noshing a Neighborhood burger. “It’s familiar, but through our lens,” he says. Next up, he is expanding his reach with Dover Club, a Euro-inspired barbershop and shaving parlor in the East Village. “Part of our ethos is creating these community hubs that will help cultivate a true neighborhood,” he says. Or at the very least, Tafazoli’s version of one.
Like George Clooney with his backpack, for nearly a decade Fernando Gaxiola spent life up in the air, averaging 200 flights a year for his work as an engineer and international oil and gas consultant. When he decided to retire two years ago, “My style completely changed,” says the Mexican-born binational oenophile, now the mastermind of Baja Wine + Food, headquartered in Bankers Hill. Out went the corporate suits. “I felt like I’d been in disguise,” says Gaxiola, who today dons outerwear, denim and scarves. But Gaxiola couldn’t hide his innate business savvy, and winemakers, chefs and food artisans he’d grown up with in the Valle de Guadalupe soon discovered a mentor and champion in their wine-and-food-loving old friend (who’s also part owner of the valley’s acclaimed boutique hotel property, Encuentro Guadalupe). Now, BWF—a hybrid agency that’s part PR firm, part importer and part tourism booster—has a singular mission: to make the valley one of the world’s most respected wine and culinary regions. It isn’t a hard sell: Among Gaxiola’s clients are wineries like Adobe Guadalupe, Vena Cava, Monte Xanic and Vinícola Torres Alegre y Familia (thanks to Gaxiola, you can now find their vintages at all Whole Foods stores and restaurants all over the country). His chef collaborators—who host private dinners when BWF leads newbies south of the border—include luminaries like Javier Plascencia, Benito Molina and Diego Hernández. Gaxiola sees Baja and San Diego’s destinies as entwined and with more in common than divides them. “After all, they’re only 17 miles apart.”
When Justin Pearson made his debut on the Cannes red carpet last spring, he was the epitome of understated cool in a black leather jacket. “I was told to wear a tux, but I don’t have one,” laughs the musician and actor, who posed for paparazzi with indie queen Charlotte Gainsbourg, his co-star from the soon-to-be-released film Incompresa. “I’ve identified with punk culture since I was 10, but punk is in your heart and ethics, not your jacket or hairstyle.” It’s an apt motto for the punk Renaissance man, whose creative empire keeps expanding. Pearson’s record label, Three One G, which he started two decades ago at 19, has dropped nearly 80 releases to date. The lanky bassist and vocalist has played in a string of popular local bands, including The Locust and Some Girls, a still-going side project with Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He’s even written two books during tour downtime—at the suggestion of his friend, film director John Waters, no less. As for his fans? Locust tattoos crop up often—Vampire Diaries actor Michael Malarkey is inked with the band’s logo—and there’s at least one kid named Pearson in his honor. “It’s extremely flattering,” says Pearson, who is currently touring Europe and Russia with his band, Retox, which just released a new album. In Barrio Logan, he shares a stylish bungalow with his girlfriend, restaurateur Jacqueline Coulon, and can be seen around town driving his pristine silver 1967 Riley Elf. “It’s right-hand-side drive and extremely small. It’s like a go-cart that goes 90 miles per hour,” Pearson says. But, yes, he rocks it.
“I want to bring sexiness to disabilities,” says Blake Leeper. If anyone can be the poster boy, it’s this 25-year-old Paralympian, who just walked fashion week with Naomi Campbell and shot hoops with Kevin Hart at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. “It was crazy seeing so many people watching me on the court,” says Leeper, whose three-pointer landed with a swoosh. “It made all my trials and tribulations worth it.” Born without legs below the knee like the fallen star Oscar Pistorius, with whom he trained, the track star spent two years on a letter-writing campaign before finally obtaining his carbon-fiber blades from the S.D.-based Challenged Athletes Foundation. “I heard a lot of no’s when I told my story, but CAF stepped up to the plate. They said ‘Go out there, have fun,’ and it just so happens that I break records,” says the sprinter, who’s won silver and bronze Paralympic medals, and is currently nominated for an ESPY Award. When he’s not at speaking engagements (motto: “The only true adversity is a bad attitude”), he is training eight hours a day in Chula Vista. Leeper, who counts Kanye West’s early Polo period as an influence, is also part of the California Lottery’s new “Believe” campaign, and he recently landed on the back of a Wheaties box. It comes close, he said, but no cigar. “Once I win my gold medal in 2016, I’ll be on the front.“
BILL MALLOY III
Bill Malloy III is an Old World, New World kind of guy. The avid surfer will dash off to Kandui in the Mentawais with his quiver, but not before delivering a TEDx talk in crisp Brooks Brothers attire. “My grandfather always had custom suits and was extremely well-tailored,” says Malloy. “I took cues from him. Our family is about heritage.” The family investment firm, Malloy & Company, was founded in the 1800s in South Carolina, where Malloy was reared. The South may have shaped his style, but today it’s more of a mashup of East Coast prep-meets-La Jolla, where he resides with his young family. Malloy began his career at tech startups in San Francisco before earning his place in the family biz. But there was another calling: philanthropy. Instead of just throwing money at a worthy cause, Malloy tapped fellow entrepreneurs to found the PEERS Network, whose annual gala has become a must-attend on S.D.’s social circuit. The mission: to help mentor a CEO of a nonprofit for a two-year period. “When starting a charity, there’s a social good, but there’s also an economic impact with jobs and value in the community,” says Malloy, who launched PEERS in L.A. earlier this year and has plans to expand to more cities. As for carrying on the family namesake, Bill Malloy IV didn’t quite stick for his 3-year-old son, named Hayden. “I tried.”