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Mayer Hawthorne Would Lose to Rihanna in a Fashion Face-Off

Photo by Jeremy Dupetat via <a href="">Mayer Hawthorne</a>
Photo by Jeremy Dupetat via Mayer Hawthorne

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Neo-soul artist Mayer Hawthorne likes to shop while he's on tour, but you won't find him shopping for clothes in San Francisco. "In San Francisco, I'm shopping for vinyl records. Grooves is my favorite... Obviously Amoeba is a stone cold killer."

While he's primarily known for hits like "Her Favorite Song" and "The Walk," Mayer's also earned a reputation for his sharp ensembles. After all, it's not every day that you spot musicians wearing natty looks complete with bow ties or ascots. Racked caught up with Hawthorne ahead of his San Francisco show next week —he'll perform on October 29th at the Herbst Pavilion as part of the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour— and quizzed the dapper star about his style.

You're almost always wearing glasses or sunglasses in photos. Are those prescription?
They were prescription back in the day, but I've had Lasik surgery, so I don't need to wear them anymore. I don't really wear eyeglasses anymore; I mostly just wear sunglasses.

Who makes your favorite sunglasses?
That changes all the time. Right now, I really like Retro Super Future, Linda Farrow. Oliver Peoples is always a super classic.

Fashion and music seem inextricably linked. Why do you think these two art forms have a strong connection?
Fashion is very visual. It's the same reason artists make music videos; there needs to be a visual component to go along with the music. Fashion is very informative. You can get a much bigger picture of who an artist is by checking out their style as well as their music. It helps people feel like they know who you are.

How has fashion influenced your music?
Fashion influences my music everyday. I might make a different kind of song based on what I decided to wear today. This morning, I got up and I put a Hawaiian shirt on, with a bunch of pineapples on it. I might go in the studio and make a more tropical sounding song just because of that. You never know.

There's a San Francisco company that just started selling Hawaiian shirts. You should check them out when you're in town.
Hawaiian is a touchy one. It has to be a very, very good Hawaiian shirt. There are a lot of Hawaiian shirts out there, and I would say 99% of them, I would never wear. But the 1% that are good are really excellent. I love those. You really have to dig for the right Hawaiian shirt. That's not something you can just go casually pick up anywhere.

How do you choose what to wear for your concerts?
I think I choose it just anybody chooses what they wear to their job. It's really just about what makes you feel good that day.

So what is the pièce de résistance in a Mayer Hawthorne outfit?
A smile is the pièce de résistance of any outfit. You're never fully dressed without a smile...You could be wearing the most expensive, flyest designer outfit in the world, and if you don't feel comfortable in it —if it doesn't make you smile— it doesn't look good on you. You always look better when you smile.

You just released a great cover of Rihanna's "Stay." You are both sharp dressers. Who would win in a fashion face-off: you or Rihanna?
Ooh. I think bad-gal RiRi would obviously kill me because she's a girl, first of all, and they have a lot more options when it comes to fashion. I think the fashion industry revolves around women, just like the rest of the world. I will gladly concede that one to RiRi.

Stylish, talented, and appropriately deferential to Rihanna? What's not to love? If you're looking to spot Mayer in the wild next week, check Taqueria Sinaloa in Oakland. (He calls it the best taco truck in the world.) If you want to attend the concert, you'll have to earn your spot. Either test-drive a Benz —the tour is promoting the new GLA compact SUV— or submit a photo that "captures the spirit of the tour" via Facebook, Instagram or email. (Use the hashtag #MBEvolutionTour.) You can find more details here.

· Mayer Hawthorne [Official Site]
· Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour [Official Site]