Interview by Tonia Trotter
Photo by Ginnard Archibald
When Randall Porter enters a room, people notice, and not just because the tastemaker is one of the most fashionable men in Birmingham. Randall has quickly and quietly become one of the most sought-after branding and public relations consultants in the south. From retail and apparel to the hospitality industry, he is changing the way people want to dress, drink, and shop.
Randall, you are known for your unique style. What inspires you?
I’m definitely inspired by my upbringing in Oxford, Alabama. I think about my grandmother and her approach to style often. She always stressed the importance of being clean, neat, and put together. She mixed color and pattern effortlessly, and I gravitate towards vintage elements that remind me of her. I like the idea of the traditional dapper southern gentleman – good tailoring and velvet loafers are part of my uniform – but with a little modern edginess. For me, personal style is about more than just clothes, it’s about empowerment. I know when I wake up in the morning, make my bed, and put on something I feel confident in that it’s going to be a good day.
Does Birmingham have a signature style?
Birmingham has great style and culture and people are hungry for more! There are so many new, interesting, and cool little spots popping up all over town because of the talent and creative vision of our own residents. There is so much beauty in our history, but our culture is evolving too. I think men especially are becoming more accepting and interested in expressing their personal style.
You’ve worked with a roster of recognizable Birmingham-based brands, from Good Grit Magazine to Soca and Aviate, but your most recent venture was the launch of the new cocktail bar Paper Doll (formerly Tavern on First). What makes Paper Doll unique in a city of great watering holes?
Intimacy. Paper Doll is sophisticated and sexy. The environment is inviting but encourages conversation. There is an extensive cocktail menu that embraces old-school favorites but still feels decidedly modern.
In addition to your busy professional life, you are engaged in a number of nonprofits. What does that involvement mean to you?
I currently sit on the board of three non-profits: March of Dimes, KultureCity and Young Professionals of Birmingham. Each of these organizations offers something different to the community, and each means a lot to me. I joined Young Professionals in 2013. It gave me a platform to meet and serve others and a network to grow with; I will serving as the 2019 Vice President. I support March of Dimes because I was born prematurely and can’t help but feel a responsibility to recognize the extra care that was given to me early on and pay it forward. KultureCity’s mission to facilitate and promote inclusion for anyone with disabilities resonates with me because, as a gay black man in south, I understand what it is like to feel excluded or on the outside of what is considered “the norm.” Just because someone interacts or learns differently doesn’t mean they don’t have something just as special to offer the community. Our individuality is what makes us all special.