An Interview with Shoemaker Karol Stanios

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September 25, 2021 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

KS: I’m 36 and I run a workshop in Krakow, where one can order bespoke handmade shoes crafted solely by me.

VR: Your educational background?

KS: If I were to do a job connected with my educational background, I would be a car mechanic now. I have never worked in this profession, though, as I got into the hobby of shoemaking, which then became my chosen job.

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your shoe enthusiasm)? How about your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you decided to become a shoemaker?

KS: I’ve got a lovely wife, Monika. It’s because of her that I still do this job. My wife is always there for me, she supports my decisions and believes in me when I’m too critical of my work. When it comes to the rest of my family, making traditional, hand made shoes is such an unusual activity that it took some time for my loved ones to get used to it. However, now, when they praise my achievements, it is truly rewarding.

VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides footwear?

KS: Besides spending hours designing and crafting footwear, I try to find some time for cardboard modelling of Japanese fleet, and also road cycling. Shoemaking and cardboard modelling have something in common: unique shapes, impeccable proportions and a high degree of workmanship. Still, it’s easier to find time for road cycling than modelling since I go to work by bike almost every day.

VR: How did you first become interested in shoes, and when did you turn your eyes towards artisanal shoemaking? Why classic models instead of fashion?

KS: It started with a Slavic re-enactment group. Back then, we didn’t have any shops that would supply craft products and replicas of items from a chosen time period. Consequently, we had no other choice but to simply make everything by hand, including shoes. With every pair, my skills got better and better and there was this hunger for knowledge, so I read every book on shoe design that could be found. I got hooked and began to make replicas of more complex, and therefore more interesting, footwear from various periods and eventually also modern shoes. I strongly believe it was that path which lead me to choose classical, elegant footwear as my field. Natural materials, leather uppers and hand-sewn soles, that’s the traditional way of making shoes, and we should cherish tradition, shouldn’t we? Also, the methods of making elegant footwear are more precise, detail-oriented and that’s an asset. Such intricate craftsmanship gives me a good degree of job satisfaction and a lot of opportunities to grow.

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the craft — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?

KS: It took me 8 years and, in fact, I am constantly learning. The difference is that now it’s about little details and not making milestones, as it used to be. In the beginning, I was learning from old books on shoemaking, and then I spent hours and hours looking for more details on the Internet. I gained practical knowledge on my own, without apprenticeship. In retrospect, I feel that it took longer than it could have but this way was quite good too. Thanks to that, I have developed my own style.

VR: How would you describe the “House Style” of Stanios shoes?

KS: What I love about shoes are finesse, neatness and elegance, and that is why I make shoes with a fiddleback waist. It makes them look unique, weightless and sleek. That is the essence of my style. Moreover, the shape of a heel, cut diagonally, beautifully harmonizes with the fiddleback waist. Finally, shoes made in my workshop are easily recognizable for their very good fit and they look as good on a foot as they do on a last.

VR: Do you have a favourite shoe model (eg. monk, derby, oxford, balmoral boot) and leather type?

KS: Two models of shoes are my favourites, the first one is a full brogue oxford in cognac shade and the second is a seamless oxford wholecut. With wholecut shoes, the colour is not that important since it’s all about the shape of the shoe which is not disrupted by anything, so the main focus is the shape itself. Apart from favourite models, what should be mentioned is leather. I enjoy working on the best materials, so I choose d’Annonay, Weinheimer, Zonta, Horween, Rendenach, and Baker. Thanks to them, each pair of shoes looks luxurious.

VR: There are several fine shoemakers in Poland — why should my readers try you?

KS: I reckon it’s good to have footwear from various workshops. Every shoemaker has their own style, their own way of conveying classic beauty and elegance. What’s more, I believe both the shoemaker and the customer can benefit from sharing their previous experience as then the most beautiful and unique footwear can be created.

My style is different from most European studios. It took me many years to refine a fiddleback waist, which I consider to be the biggest asset of the shoes made in my workshop. On top of that, they are made entirely by me, so I design them, make shoe lasts, sew the uppers, form leather heels, and then put everything together to make a shoe. When a client places an order, they can be sure that it is made solely by an experienced shoemaker, who has spent hours of painstaking work on their unique pair of shoes.

VR: What is your definition of a well-made shoe?

KS: When it comes to the structure, all the parts that are not visible once the shoe is ready, so a well-made insole, proper heel counter, and a well-balanced centre of gravity are the most important aspects. On the other hand, from a visual point of view, I can say that shoes are well-made if, after a long while, I see a client wearing them and I still like them. Thanks to such moments, I know that it was worth devoting those hours and demanding more of myself.

VR: Who or what inspires you?

KS: I’ve mentioned one word a few times in this interview and  it’s ‘shape’. Mastering it, following the lines that complement each other, forming refined curves, that’s what drives me every day.

VR: Finally, would you say that Polish shoemakers have a style of their own, or is the work close to German or British shoemaking?

KS: Polish craftsmanship draws from the same sources as Austrian or English ones, so their work may seem similar. However, as I said before, each studio has its own style that a trained eye can easily notice.

www.stanios.pl


The Voxsartoria Archive

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March 17, 2021 by Ville Raivio

The anonymous style buff known as Voxsartoria has amassed an eviable collection of stylish photos on his site. Gathered since 2012, the archive is among the most interesting destinations for inspiration on classic men’s clothing. Most pictures have studio quality and the makeup is pieces from film stills, publicity shots, old Hollywood pictures, and such. The whole is an excellent find and well worth a visit during these trying plagued times.

https://voxsartoria.com/archive


Bespoke Tailor Ciccio

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March 12, 2021 by Ville Raivio


How To Dress for a Casino

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February 25, 2021 by Ville Raivio

The reader’s first touch with casinos is likely as the wingman to a certain James Bond. This figure, who has stayed ever young, – virile, and -stylish for several eras, gambles all over the world in custom dinner suits whose makers have varied from one decade to the next. All and more about them knows the peerless Bondsuits, which dissects the character’s clothes with an accuracy of a non-fiction book. During Daniel Craig’s time that maker has been Tom Ford, and not all fans have been happy with the cuts and fits of his clothes. The image of the dress code for casinos, born from the influence of this character, is very posh and demanding, enough to turn some random players away from walking in. The truth in Finland, at least, is very different, but those playing internationally should know a thing or two.

 

Veikkaus, which runs the state monopoly on gaming in Finland, owns the only casino in the country, the Casino Helsinki. It is one of the few casinos in the world to give out its winnings entirely to charity. Thus, even troubled gamers receive help with the money they have lost. A quick glance on the casino’s site and a call to its personnel reveals that there is indeed a dress code, but not really on Bond’s level. Casino Helsinki’s requirement is most of all cleanliness and cordiality. Sportswear, dirty or broken clothing, and undershirts are not welcome. It seems to be at the personnel’s judgement whether polo shirts are a kind of undershirt, but jeans are fine. Visiting a casino is likely a rare opportunity in a rarefied environment, so I root the reader to overdress rather than go under. Thanks to dozens of security cameras, whatever the reader wears is likely to be seen.

The following advice come from Casino Helsinki’s Gaming Manager/Slot&Hospitality/Cash Desk person Sina Hentunen as well as online sources.

Dressing for casinos varies greatly according to continent and establishment. The loosest settings are found in Las Vegas, where chips can be thrown about in T-shirts and jeans around the clock at nearly all houses. Still, a sleeveless shirt, sandals, broken clothing, and peculiarly short trousers are most likely cause for comment. The sharpest dress codes are found at the old, grand establishments in Mid-Europe. Dark suits are common, dinner suits most welcome. The Clermont, The Bellagio, and The Ritz are not to be visited without a suit and tie. Cultural differences also affect the dress codes around the world. Shindigs at the poshest places commence in the evening, and a dinner suit is the thing to do. Charity events and galas are also held in casinos occasionally, and it is good to release the inner Bond in these moments. Alternatively, perhaps a flannel robe with pima cotton pyjamas would be just the thing for a round of blackjack at home. More info on that under the link.

As for style, still the best price-quality deals I’ve found are offered by the Dutch miracle makers Suitsupply. What’s more, they also make rare three-piece dinner suits as well as silk or velvet jackets. These go smartly with the trousers of the regular black dinner suit.


An Interview with Romée de Saint Céran and Maxime Pilard Armand from Vulpilist

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January 29, 2021 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

Maxime: I am 31 and am working full-time on Vulpilist.
Romée: I’m 37 and I am working half time on Vulpilist, half time on Croquis Sartoriaux, and half time as a senior head hunter.

VR: Your educational background?

Maxime: I studied economics at a Prep school and then attended a Business school, majoring in Web Marketing and Luxury management.
Romée: I studied at a military college and then I attended a Business school.

 

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your clothing enthusiasm)?

Maxime: I am married. My wife likes when I dress classicaly but not when it’s too much cosplay – I can tell from her face when I wear a fair isle, tweed jacket and a fedora! There are also complains about closet space needed. In that regard, Vulpilist helped me clear some space by selling unworn clothes. The marketplace is a marriage improver in some way!

Romée: I am married and father of 4 kids. To be honest, I usually take off my clothes when arriving home and put a t-shirt and some jeans. Way more safe with kids! They’re all very tolerant with my passion even though my wife is also very happy with Vulpilist, because I can sell stuff that takes up a lot of space.

VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you first decided to put your time and effort into style?

Maxime: I began to gain interest when I was a teenager. My family was not surprised as I walked in my grandfather’s footsteps – and he was a luxury fabrics and silk merchant.

Romée: I don’t remember seeing my grandfathers, who were both officers, without a tie, nor my father till he was working, so I can’t say my choice is a revolution. Meanwhile, I’m dressed pretty casually in my family time.

 

VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?

Maxime: I am fond of photography, history, cooking and hiking.

Romée: I love drawing, spending time with my family, and I’m also a big fan of football.

A Parisian lapel with pick-stitching and an asola lucida-buttonhole

VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic pieces ? Why these instead of high fashion?

Maxime: Family atavism! High fashion always seemed hollow to me in opposition to classical menswear which represented stability and tradition with contemporary twists.

Romée: I’m like Maxime! I’ve never been into fashion, and I don’t know anything about this universe, even though there are some trends in the classic menswear universe. But their durations are way longer. I chose classic menswear naturally, I remember when my parents gave me my first Hermès tie for my 18th birthday and a tweed jacket. I also asked for a tweed jacket for christmas, which was pretty honest.

 

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the classic look  — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?

Maxime: I began by looking at Scott Schuman’s (The Sartorialist) blog photos in the late 2000s when he was still shooting gentlemen dressed classically. I also read a lot of books – Flusser’s, Roetzel’s and much more about tailoring, shoemaking, etc, which helped me gain both style and knowledge of the craft. In the meantime, I began thrifting for creative and budget reasons (I was still a student). This helped me learn a lot of empirical knowledge about how a garment is made, the techniques used, different styles of tailoring, ranges of ready-to-wear, etc.

Romée: I read many blogs, mainly in French, before buying books. I discovered Maxime this way, as he was running Le Paradigme de l’Elegance, a very famous french blog in the early 2010s, now unfortunately defunct.

VR: Please describe how Vulpilist was born and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How has the marketplace been received so far?

Maxime: I ran Le Vestiaire du Renard for 6 years. It was an online thrift shop specialised in classical menswear and accessories. I met Romée when he was one of my first customers and we became friends. When I decided to stop this activity, as I had to move out of Paris, I began to talk with Romée about creating a specialised marketplace as we are both sartorial nerds and huge thrifters, both online and IRL. We observed that there are a lot of generalist marketplaces (Ebay, Vinted, etc) where you could find classical menswear, but there was nothing entirely dedicated to it. We thus decided to create the marketplace we would have wanted for ourselves, entirely menswear-curated, made for enthusiasts by enthusiasts.

We launched on October 1st, 2020 by reaching out to our respecting communities (Vestiaire du Renard for me, Croquis Sartoriaux for Romée). Vulpilist’s reception was excellent, beyond our expectation! Dozens of users talk and exchange everyday, over 1200 clothes and accessories have been listed in 4 months from SuitSupply to bespoke clothes, Meermin to John Lobb. It’s sometimes hard not to buy for ourselves before validating the listings! We are definitely meeting a huge need in the sartorial community and our next step will be to improve the functionalities and look of the website.

 

VR: Who or what inspires you?

Maxime: My family history. My forefathers were pioneers in Central America in early XXth century, where they were well-known silk and luxury fabrics merchants – their courage, boldness and cleverness never ceases to inspire me. Regarding style, I am inspired by individuals who are well-dressed and yet do not take themselves seriously, such as Luca Rubinacci.

Romée: I’m inspired by the codes of classic menswear that give a sharp structure with many rules, within which you can play once you know them. And playing can mean breaking the rules. So I’m inspired by people who are able to be subtle enough to be borderline without being off the mark. I won’t be able to name anyone in particular, but if you take a look book from the english brand Drake’s, it often corresponds, IMHO, to an intelligent mix of tradition and modernity.

VR: What’s your definition of style?

Maxime: To know the history of garments, to wear them appropriately or with a twist, and always relevantly to the place and people we meet. I consider style as a mean rather than an end.

Romée: I think being stylish is being accurate, and not standing out. If everybody notices your outfit, well, it often means that you may be too « showy ». Style comes through understatement.

 

VR: Which RTW-companies or tailors are among your favourites — and why?

Maxime: I particularly like Huntsman’s high-rise buttoning style, the pre-2010 bespoke Smalto cut and style, as well as Roman tailoring. Also, I am impressed by Orazio Luciano’s workshop which represents, to me, Neapolitan style and craftsmanship combined with the reliability of an organized structure – a very advanced MTM priced quite decently in regards to quality and end result.

Romée: I don’t have a huge experience in tailoring, unfortunately. If I had to go for a very formal outfit, a Parisian tailor would certainly get my preference. As I’m often dressed more casually (in odd jackets) I really appreciate the softness of Neapolitan tailoring. I have way too many Cesare Attolini cashmere jackets which are so nice to wear in winter, they’re like a second skin. As I said above, I love Drake’s sense of style which is a great source of inspiration for my sketches.

VR: Finally, why should Keikari’s readers visit Vulpilist?

Maxime and Romée: Vulpilist is a secure and smart way to find deals and unique garments. As such, our community is growing fast and more than 1200 garments, footwear and accessories are already for sale from all over the world. Vulpilist is not a random marketplace. We are enthusiasts and designed it for enthusiasts.
We curate every listing to make sure you will find the most relevant garments and accessories which are all filtered by sartorial criteria.

Want to find a size 38 canvassed ready-to-wear suit? Yes, sir. A pair of size 9.5 bespoke oxfords? Of course. A paisley tie or a pocket square printed with animals? Right away.

Furthermore, we take a lot of time to advise our community especially on how to sell faster and buy smarter. As a result, Vulpilist is the place to find and purchase dead stock or second hand classical menswear. Goodbye painful thrifting, hello sartorial grailfinds! It is also the place to find a new owner for your beloved garments and sell them at the price they deserve. Be as cunning as a fox with Vulpilist!

www.vulpilist.com




Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio

Only a beautiful life is worth living.


"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
~ Beau Brummell

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