April 18, 2014 by Ville Raivio
This latest post in a series on the fineries of Austro-Hungarian shoemaking picks off where the last Budapester post concluded. The newer example pair is a MTM austerity oxford in orange-brown Italian buffalo leather with round but chiseled toe, natural welt with white stitching, dark purple lining, flush steel toe guards and single oak bark leather soles with beveled waist. The pair arrived in a sturdy gold colour box with dark green velvet lid and wooden shoe trees.
They were made with my measurements and choice of features, and a critical look on fit is crucial. These austerities fit closer than any other pair in my ever-growing collection. Somewhat thicker socks will do, but anything above three-ply will make an uncomfortable fit. The last was adjusted most at the heelcups, which will simply not bulge in any direction when worn. Again, this is something I haven’t experienced with other shoes and the sensation will need some time to accustom to.
Some discomfort was due as the left pair isn’t as wide on the ball of foot as I’d prefer, but the upper stretched nicely with the help of simple wear and several layers of corn bandaids applied on the left shoe tree. This trick I found from Shoegazing.se, the Swedish gift to shoe nerds the world over. Apart from the very close fit, the pair feels different on pavement. They’ve hardly any cork under the midsole and any bumps or rocks do feel through the soles. This will also take some time to get used to. Like other Hungarian cordwainer wonders, the pair is very light and has the Rozsnyai house style features: leather stiffeners and arch support reaching almost to the vamp, lace keeper on the tongue, separate gimped cork sock liners and unfinished leather insoles.
The smooth buffalo leather has a nice inner glow, and the photos attached were taken before any additional layers of shoe polish. While fine calf is baby bum smooth, the buffalo uppers have a nice surface grain that suits the brogue-less austerity style well. As for the beveled waist, it’s narrower and more curvaceous than those offered by, say, Edward Green, but not as aggressive as the likes on Gaziano&Girling pairs. They’re finished with the maker’s signature and black-yellow staining and wheeled details. I look forward to many comfortable years together.
April 17, 2014 by Ville Raivio
The most common Black Watch tartan is a navy blue-dark green-black clothes pattern as well as one of the oldest tartans still in use. An official from The Scottish Register of Tartans tells me that the pattern’s history is unclear, but it gained favour after 1725 when the English government clothed its Royal Scottish Watch in this tartan. The band of brothers answered to the name of Black Watch to set themselves apart from the five other Highland companies. Several theories try to explain the name: the soldiers watched over Scottish Highlands, the tartan has very dark colours and the watch was formed from Scotsmen, who were used to rein in and keep check of other Scots. Bitter clansmen declared that those of the watch had black hearts.
Bright tartans are best in separating men from each other, declaring membership to groups or in times of celebration, but the Black Watch, thanks to its dark palette, was camouflage on the moors and bushes before the age of camo fatigues. In The Scottish Register of Tartans this pattern goes by the name of Grant Hunting or Black Watch, but the dear old tartan has other names as well, such as Old Campbell, The 42nd Universal and Government (Tartan). Several variations on this theme are also listed, all with similar names and mostly dark colours. Along with the bright red Royal Stewart Tartan, Black Watch is among the most popular Scottish patterns of today. While family and estate tartans are protected, Black Watch is free for all in any use — though my little bird tells me that not many Scots look too kindly on the man wearing tartans to which he’s no familial or regional ties to.
Should the reader feel like it, he can cover the whole body in Black Watch. It’s used in socks, trousers, suits, jackets, shirts, scarfs, so on, and because the colour shades are dark, it’s among the most serene tartans. The common Black Watch may also appeal to the man who usually frowns on gaudy, bright tartans. That old tip about using strong patterns in small amounts is a good one, but one can make an exception with Black Watch clothes thanks to these calm colours. The Royal Regiment of Scotland still uses Black Watch as an emblem of the 3 SCOTS battalion, and the tartan has been a symbol of service and courage for some three hundred years. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful tartans, and a personal favourite, which will not shy away from the company of any man.
April 10, 2014 by Ville Raivio
March 26, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Artists must first of all distinguish themselves from members of the adjacent professional classes typically present at art world events: dealers, critics, curators, and caterers. They must second of all take care not to look like artists. This double negation founds the generative logic of artists’ fashion.
The relationship between an artist’s work and attire should not take the form of a direct visual analogy. A stripe painter may not wear stripes.
The relationship between an artist’s work and attire should function in the manner of a dialectic, in which the discrepancy between the personal appearance of the artist and the appearance of her work is resolved into a higher conceptual unity. An artist’s attire should open her work to a wider range of interpretive possibilities.
The artist’s sartorial choices are subject to the same hermeneutic operations as are his work. When dressing, an artist should imagine a five-paragraph review of his clothes—the attitudes and intentions they reveal, their topicality, their relationship to history, the extent to which they challenge or endorse, subvert or affirm dominant forms of fashion—written by a critic he detests.
Communicating an attitude of complete indifference to one’s personal appearance is only achievable through a process of self-reflexive critique bordering on the obsessive. Artists who are in reality oblivious to how they dress never achieve this effect.
Whereas a dealer must signal, in wardrobe, a sympathy to the tastes and tendencies of the collector class, an artist is under no obligation to endorse these. Rather, the task of the artist with regard to fashion is to interrogate the relationship between cost and value as it pertains to clothing, and, by analogy, to artworks.
An artist compensates for a limited wardrobe budget by making creative and entertaining clothing choices, much in the way that a dog compensates for a lack of speech through vigorous barking.
Artists are not only permitted but are in fact required to be underdressed at formal institutional functions. But egregious slovenliness without regard to context is a childish ploy, easily seen through.
An artist may dress like a member of the proletariat, but shouldn’t imagine he’s fooling anyone.
The affluent artist may make a gesture of class solidarity by dressing poorly. She is advised to keep in mind that, at an art opening, the best way to spot an heiress is to look for a destitute schizophrenic. Middle-class or working-class artists, the destitute, and the schizophrenic can use this principle to their social advantage.
The extension of fashion into the violation of norms of personal hygiene and basic grooming constitutes the final arena for radicalism in artists’ fashion. Brave, fragrant souls! You will be admired from a distance.”
~ Roger White in I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette, an essay on a bag
March 25, 2014 by Ville Raivio
LIFE magazine’s October 13 issue from 1961 included a fascinating analysis on the sprezzidential style of John F. Kennedy and brother Robert. John L. Steele pokes a bit of fun at a few former presidents and their odd clothes choices like capes, floppy fedoras and Key West shirts before touting those infamous Kennedys. In true Brummellian spirit, JFK had the habit of chiding aides for poor style choices, but when it came to the man himself, Kennedy was above etiquette. The same dictum was practiced to some degree by brother Robert, and both Kennedys arrived in, say, white dinner jacket affairs in all-black. The piece also goes through JFK’s wardrobe; fabrics, colours, preferred cut and choice of tailor.
March 25, 2014 by Ville Raivio
March 22, 2014 by Ville Raivio
If there is no such thing as shirt store porn, let this little post give a name to a series. Claude Truong-Ngoc has shared a few dozen beautiful shots from the store that has no comparison in range of shirtings, and Wikimedia Commons has it all — bolt after bolt, collar after another.
March 21, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Shetland wool is the harvested and treated wool grown by sheep of the same name. This tiny landrace creature has been bred within the distant, hardy Shetland Islands, where the locals have tended sheep for their meat, fine wool and use in grazing. Oceanic climate, understated British temperatures and meek Flora have edified Shetland sheep into a tough and heavily woollen race. While not golden, their fleece has been used in the making of Fair Isle knitwear, lace shawls, export goods and tweed cloths for many years. So many sources tout the local extra fine shawls that I must join in on the shout: after all, these can be pulled through a ring, whether that of the missus or mistress, with ease.
In 2011, Shetland wool became the first inedible Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) goods from The United Kingdom. Breeders keep proud check of the local wool’s production and quality. To be granted the approval and stamp of wool merchants, Shetland wool must be soft, longish, very fine and wavy. A wide range of colours and fleece shapes are part of the breed’s natural makeup. While they handle the home islands’ climate well, Shetland sheep have been exported to many locations around the world, and they thrive in calm climates.
Shetland wool is warm, strong, soft, durable and the finest any British sheep breed produces. Official colours number 11 and shades 30, of which pure white, black and reddish brown are the most common. The Isles’ knitters favour undyed wool. White was very common before for ease of dyeing, but interest in undyed Shetland wool has risen. If the buyer favours these eleven colours, the breeder will make higher sums from rarer natural fleece. Many of them have names of few syllables after the Shetlandic dialect, and run like a moss-covered stream through the ear — emsket, musket, shaela, moorit, mioget.
Among style aficionados, one Shetland item rules them all: the colourful crewneck jumper with saddle shoulders and more or less nubby surface interest, a product of brushing quite like that on flannel. This carefree icon of Ivy League style is a nice and warm, durable and sprightly addition to any wardrobe. An examplary piece is the Shaggy Dog model from J. Press, with an inflated price but a solid reputation. Another item is Shetland tweed, which can do no wrong in any piece of clothing. The small and gutsy sheep grows miracles.
Second photo: Ben Silver
March 19, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
JR: 27 years this spring, working in finance.
VR: Your educational background?
JR: Master’s degree in accounting.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
JR: When you love all things beautiful it becomes something of a lifestyle that affects everything. My girlfriend’s gotten used to it by now though, so I suppose it’s a part of both of our lives.
VR:…and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days?
JR: It’s been a very long time since I lived at home, but they were always supportive whatever I did.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
JR: Having done sports daily since I was only a few years old, I spend quite a bit of my free time among physical activities. Gym, ice hockey, alpine skiing, football, badminton and running. Whatever time I have left after work and my daily sports time, I usually spend among style related matters.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic clothing? Why these instead of fashion pieces?
JR: I’ve always found aesthetics important, and therefore have always paid attention to what I was wearing. Previously a lot more fashion-minded, I started leaning towards more classic style and menswear about four years ago. I think the main reason for this change was that I had started favoring pieces that last longer and still look good years after purchasing them. Gradually my style started getting closer to what we could call the menswear scene, both its classic and street style influenced ends. That said, I think still today my style retains something different to many other enthusiasts. As I put it to my friend once, I wear mostly Italian clothing but my style isn’t that Italian.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of apparel – from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
JR: At first, most of my information came from internet forums such as Keikari and Styleforum, but later on I’ve mostly stopped reading forums. I would say the internet in general has the ability to teach you almost anything, and when it comes to the technical side of style it can certainly give you all the information you might need.
M-65 field jacket
VR: When did you decide to set up The Nordic Fit and what’s your motivation for the blog? How do you select the content?
JR: I started the site when I was living in the US in 2011. At first it was a bit of an experiment, but after a while I started having a more clear idea on how I wanted to develop the concept. Over 2013 I made some additional efforts to shaping The Nordic Fit into a site that would combine a presentable and professional layout, stylish pictures and interesting content. I usually don’t write about items I don’t like or recommend, so the goods presented on the site in some way represent my own taste. I find the internet is full of blogs that just reblog pictures, so I try to write at least some input into my every published post. When I have more spare time, I do like to write more informative articles as well.
VR: How would you describe your own dress? Which RTW makers and tailors do you favour?
JR: Like I said, I wear mostly Italian clothes, but my style isn’t really all that Italian. I prefer my style quite simple and clean, if you will. Lots of plain colors that are livened up with textures instead of wild patterns. Furthermore, I find fit to be very important and this is perhaps where the Italians have most influenced me. I strongly think that soft and natural lines flatter a man’s profile the most, provided he isn’t very skinny. I also like my fit quite slim, but not overly tight.
I like most Italian manufacturers for suits and jackets. SuitSupply sometimes offers good bang for the buck as well, if their fits happen to work for you. I’m usually prepared to spend quite a lot into alterations, and would like to stress how important a skilled tailor is. When I shop for RTW items, I’m usually prioritizing material, quality and proportions. As nothing is gonna fit you right off the rack anyway, I don’t pay too much attention to things that can be fixed later on.
Lately I’ve started investing more into different MTO products though and will keep doing so, mostly because I’ve found it increasingly hard to find suitable RTW products.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
JR: I think my biggest inspiration comes from the daily weather, but also my surroundings in general. Often it can be a very little thing like seeing a picture of New York or something. On some mornings though, it’s just a matter of throwing some stuff on before leaving for work.
VR: What is your definition of style?
JR: When talking about style in clothing context, I would say style is timeless, yet modern. Some things remain the same despite the latest trends, but as everything, style changes gradually.
VR: Is there something you wish more men would know about dressing well?
JR: Perhaps the most important thing is to avoid impulse buys and too specialized items. Build your wardrobe with patience and invest into quality. Before every purchase, consider if this is something that is going to last over time. Avoid sales.
Photos: The Nordic Fit
March 17, 2014 by Ville Raivio
I’ve written this before but here it goes again: The Sartorialist was a treasure trove of inspiration back in the days. The Linos, the Lucas, the Lapos and all those Pitti Uomo guys as well as the many anonymous faces on big city streets had style. Going through the archives also came up with a little something by GBB for TS, a favourite sentence of one writer, a very cordial, very British spoken word.
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio