Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is entering the next chapter of his career. He’s not only doing his first Broadway production—a revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’s play Topdog/Underdog—but also committing to stripping down to his skivvies in the name of Calvin Klein. The 36-year-old Emmy Award winner and newfound brand ambassador just joined names such as Lila Moss (who’s followed in her mother Kate’s footsteps as a face of CK), as well as Jennie of Blackpink, in starring in the heritage brand’s latest campaign. The photos showcase its iconic underwear—and, in Abdul-Mateen II’s case, his abs and pecs. The actor had a ball doing so, vibing with the “super chill and collaborative” photographer Alasdair McLellan on set.
While deep into his rehearsals for Topdog/Underdog, Abdul-Mateen II hasn’t been neglecting his ambassador duties. Here, he talks about his relationship with the brand and shares his personal fashion philosophy in his Style Notes interview.
What’s your first memory of Calvin Klein?
Seeing the advertisement with the plain white tee and denim. I didn’t know what the ad was for, but the images were classic. Timeless.
You’ve been getting a bit riskier on the red carpet, most notably on the Ambulance press tour earlier this year. Was there anything or anyone that inspired you?
I like to wear what’s comfortable. I’m also into trying new things, so I just have fun and go along with what fits my personality or mood at the time. But I always like to look sharp and masculine. If I can do that and have a little edge, then I’m happy.
Describe your style in three words.
Classy. Comfortable. Cool.
What were you wearing yesterday, and why did you decide to wear it?
These days, I’m wearing sweats, a plain white tee, and, of course, Calvin Klein underwear. I’m in production for a play [Topdog/Underdog on Broadway] and I usually have to just get up and go, so I need something minimal but still stylish. I’m actually wearing Calvin Klein underwear on stage every night. So… it’s a win-win all day.
What was the last thing you purchased?
Black Chuck Taylors. I get a lot of wear out of them and they look better the more you beat ‘em up.
What was your style like as a teenager?
Haha. Sweats and t-shirts. And everything Nike that I could get my hands on.
What was your first major fashion purchase?
I’ve gotten a few nice things over the years, but recently, I spoiled myself with a cool black leather Prada bomber jacket. I hope I’ll have that for a long time.
What’s the most prized possession in your closet?
My dad bought me a pair of Florsheim shoes in 2006. Burgundy. I’ve had the soles replaced twice. It’s my favorite pair, and they still keep a nice shine.
What was the most recent item you purchased?
A Cartier Tank watch.
What’s always in your bag?
A phone charger, a little black notebook, and a pen.
Who’s your ultimate style icon?
Where are your favorite places to shop?
I don’t shop much. But when I do, I don’t really have go-to’s. When I did shop a lot, I was big on little vintage shops.
Biggest fashion regret?
None, really. I don’t play safe, and it’s always a lesson.
What’s your style pet peeve?
Not really a pet peeve, but I can’t see myself wearing sandals. [Especially] sandals and shorts.
Favorite fashion moment from pop culture?
Michael Jackson’s glitter glove.