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Boardwalk Empire and men’s clothes in the 1920s America


March 3, 2015 by Ville Raivio

Christopher Laverty from has his say at The British Library.

Juvenal in quote


February 28, 2015 by Ville Raivio

“Seldom do people discern eloquence under a threadbare cloak.”

– Juvenal

Interview with Athene English from The Great English Outdoors


February 28, 2015 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

AE: I am 59, Leather Worker and Owner of The Great English Outdoors.


VR: Your educational background?

AE: I trained as Leather Worker in the East End of London.


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

AE: I have one son, he is also a craftsman and is a Picture Framer. He also appreciates fine Leather work


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?

AE: I come from a family of artists so everyone was very encouraging. My eldest sister is a performance artist, younger sister is an Illustrator and my brother is a Land Artist.


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

AE: I love being outside and enjoy fly fishing, walking and riding horses, I also enjoy collecting Textiles


VR: How did you first become interested in artisanal goods, and when did you turn your eyes towards leatherworking? Why this material over others?

AE: My mother left a copy of Sidney A. Davis’s book ‘The Saddler’, I was supposed to be going off to study Landscape Architecture but I read the book and realised this is what I wanted to be. I trained as a Saddler and, having ridden horses professionally as I was growing up, I already understood the needs of the competitive rider. Many Saddlers have never ridden horses so I had an immediate advantage. I was lucky enough to be able to work in the amazing 200-year-old Russian Reindeer Leather – the Stradivarius of all leathers. This remarkable leather is richly aromatic and grained with a distinctive cross hatched finish. It remained undiscovered in a shipwreck, a Dutch ship, the Meta Catarina, at the bottom of the sea for 200 years and was finally recovered by divers in 1978. This precious cargo from St. Petersburg was destined for Genoa.


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

AE: I studied at the prestigious Cordwainers’ College in the East End of London. Having completed my training, I settled in Gloucestershire where I started a saddlery. Amongst my clients was the Princess Royal, Princess Anne. In 1989 I moved closer to my family roots and established a business in Hay on Wye. Having always worked in leather, I began making a line of luxury leather goods, and business grew and diversified. I began making beautiful leather wallets, purses, handbags, belts and dog collars, and working with the amazing 200-year-old Russian Reindeer Leather. My collection of leather goods reflects the saddler’s emphasis on strength and durability.


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

AE: The business continued to develop and through my passion for collecting textiles I started collecting Welsh blankets, because these textiles reminded me of the materials used in saddlery. We now buy and sell hundreds of old Welsh blankets, antique tapestries, and vintage quilts.  Following William Morris’ maxim, ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, I also began to sell objects for the house and home, made locally, where possible, and ethically sourced.

As the shop in Hay on Wye gained in popularity, I started a Mail Order business and then later set up a retail website. Over the years I have become very well-known and frequently appear in the Press.


VR: Have you any particular style or detail philosophy for your wares?

AE: Good design, excellence of craftsmanship and the best materials. Simplicity and functionality.


VR: Why should Keikari’s readers choose you over other British leather artisans?

AE: I offer a niche product with a strong foundation in traditional craftsmanship, integrity of materials and an element of exclusivity.


VR: Who or what inspires you?

I look back to my roots, the stables where I worked, and try to make leather goods that look beautiful but are to be used everyday and will last.


VR: What’s your definition of style?

AE: Simplicity in design, something that you recognise at once, a piece that stands out alone for its beauty of line.


VR: Finally, have you any tips for identifying quality leather and make?

When I see a fine example of leather work I am excited, I want to touch and handle the piece, to examine the lustre and the natural patina, which is only recognisable in really good leather work.  I look for the quality of the stitching and check to see the quality of the fittings.


Photos: The Great English Outdoors

History and basics of cloth by Huddersfield


February 14, 2015 by Ville Raivio

Huddersfield has published a handy little infotainment leaflet that covers the basics of cloth. Included is some info on sheep breeds, worsteds and woollens, glossary, and the very British fibre management business that is Hudderfield’s speciality.

A proper Danish Butler


February 12, 2015 by Ville Raivio

“One should never apologize for being well-dressed.”

– “Butler”

Interview with Billax


February 9, 2015 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

B: I was born in Chicago in 1942. Tomorrow, I’ll turn Seventy-three. After college, almost all my working life centered on the securities of technology companies – from Venture Capital investing in start-ups, to Investment Banking for companies undertaking Initial Public Offerings, and directing researchers who analyzed the investment merit of public companies, on to managing portfolios of technology securities, and, most appealing to me, speculating on opportunities that would be created by new technologies. I was very lucky to have had such endlessly fascinating and challenging work!


Barred owl spotting

VR: Your educational background?

B: I graduated from a Midwestern University in 1964, having majored in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration. I chose my college for the most rigorous of reasons – my High School  sweetheart was gonna go there, and they offered me an Athletic Scholarship to run and jump for them! Such failure to focus on the central factors in an important decision would episodically haunt me throughout my life. Still, serendipity befell me often enough so that everything kinda balanced out. As I entered college, my vague career goal was to be a car designer for Jaguar or Ferrari. Sometime early in those college days, that dream sloughed off and slid away. Nonetheless, I still sketch sleek automobiles while sitting in the waiting room of my auto repair shop. And, yes, I do notice that my drawing hand isn’t as steady as it once was. :-)

I was fortunate to make the Dean’s List several times in college. I also made the Dean’s “One more time and I’ll boot you outa here!” list. For a brief period, my future wife thought the song the best fit me was a Country and Western ditty by Faron Young, entitled “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young.”


“As a Junior in college, 1962: corduroy sport coat, tabbed club collar shirt, obligatory skinny tie of the era.”

VR: How do your wife and children relate to your style enthusiasm?

B: That I didn’t die young was the result of two women who believed in me: My wife of fifty-one years and my business partner of 31 years. I am grateful to them both. They both believe my apparel fetish is a genetic defect with which they have learned to live. As to my three Sons, the oldest has zero interest in clothes and has his wife buy his clothes and suggest what he wears. The other two boys are natural shoulder dressers, from their Brooks Brothers 132Q button-downs, right down to their Allen-Edmonds Strand shoes.


“1963: Best dressed male on Campus.”

VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?

B: Neither of my parents dressed stylishly. Nor did my brother or sister. They always looked tidy, but they just didn’t pay much attention to clothes – and that included mine. Of course, in the late 1950s and 1960s, wearing  the Ivy League Look was like putting on the Cloak of Invisibility. Since almost all the guys who thought about clothes wore the same look, nobody paid any particular attention to someone wearing Ivy gear. I was merely EVERYMAN.


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

B: My wife and I love modern Architecture. In particular, I love the so-called Organic branch of modern architecture. We have purchased, restored, and lived in four modernist houses – all of which came with the original plans. In addition, I wrote and had published a monograph on the architect of one of the houses we owned. Our library is weighed down by more than 200 architecture and modern design books. It has been an interest of mine since my Dad gave me a copy of the Herman Miller collection in 1952, nearly sixty-three years ago. The book was co-authored by two architects and furniture designers, George Nelson and Charles Eames. Their simple, minimalist, form-follows-function furniture is what I have lived with for a long time. That furniture, and the modernist architecture with which it fits,  has a certain parallel with the Ivy League Look. They share design principals of minimalism, no (or very little) ornamentation, and the belief that form follows function.

My other passion is Lacrosse, a Native American game that has been played for more than 600 years. The game was used as a dispute resolution method between tribes, and the game is called – by Native Americans – the Little Brother of War. I became involved with Lacrosse on a long-ago day when my youngest and I were sitting in a city park, waiting for his Little League Baseball practice to start. He saw three lacrosse-playing boys from the local High School team having a catch, with helmets and gloves on and sticks in their hands. He watched this fast, fluid game for a couple of minutes, turned to me and said, “Da, that’s the game I want to play. What is it?”  Those two sentences changed my life. Valuing the traditions of long ago came to be something I cherished. That formerly un-exercised part of me also reinforced my interest in traditional apparel! My youngest recently turned 21. He continues to play the game to this day. On Spring days, whenever there’s a game, you’ll find me sittin’ in the stands, at his college Lacrosse Stadium, as he and his teammates do battle with other NCAA DI lacrosse teams.


“J. Press handwoven Donegal Mist 3/2-roll jacket, cable knit Cardigan vest, and Light-gray flannels.”

VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why Ivy style above others?

B: In November of 1958, my family hosted the Thanksgiving Dinner for both sides of our family. I was a Sixteen-year-old High School Senior, already at work on my college applications. My two college-attending male cousins arrived, dressed in very similar outfits. Both were wearing Bass Weejuns, Wigwam wool crew socks, pressed khaki pants with cuff/no break and white Oxford Cloth Button-Down shirts. Both wore Shetland sweaters – the Northwestern cousin a Caramel Tan V-neck and the Cornell cousin a Gray crewneck. I was stunned. Those were the best looking rigs I had EVER seen! Every component seemed to fit perfectly with every other component. It all seemed so… so… coherent to me! I did not know that the cousins were wearing something called The Ivy League Look, I just knew that I wanted to wear that AND NOTHING BUT THAT! There was nothing loud about the cousins’ apparel. The colors were quiet, the shirt collar and trousers were crisp, and, except for the Weejuns, nothing was shiny. To a color-blind guy like me, each of the guys looked just PERFECT.

I came to find out that The Ivy League Look was the dominant menswear look on college campuses throughout the nation. It had been that way for about 15-20 years and would remain that way for another decade. I’d seen David Nelson of “The Ozzie and Harriet” television show wear similar things (he was then a college student at USC and a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity) and I liked them. But seeing those apparel elements in person, being driven nearly crazy by the deep, dense, textured, Shetland wool, the perfectly creased Khakis, the slouchy wool socks, and the shine on the “Brush-off” Weejuns caused me to say to myself, “Why would anyone ever wear anything but this kind of clothing?” Fifty-six years later, I still think the same thing!


“Club wear: 3/2-roll tweed jacket, 6 button vest, brown suede loafers.”

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?

B: When I arrived at college in the Fall of 1959, I quickly spotted the Campus “Ivy” shop. I walked in, wearing the one outfit I’d copied from my cousins. Richard Ross – Dick to his friends – Mr. Ross to me, was the proprietor. He was a diminutive Scottish gentleman, with only a trace of a burr. As I walked in, he greeted me, though I was in the midst of being dumbstruck by the tie table, the shirt shelves, the tweed sport coat racks, the reversible outerwear. It was too much for me! I blurted out, “Hello! I would like to work here part-time, as I’m a student at the University and I just pledged Kappa Sigma and I’ll do it for free if I have to.” Yup, that was the world’s longest run-on sentence, but I needed to get it all out in one breath!

He smiled, and gently asked, “What do you know about clothes?”

Without thinking I said, “I know nearly nothing and I want to learn nearly everything!”

Well, he hired me and I worked at his store part-time for close to four years. He taught me how to think about, and describe, collar roll. He meticulously compared the two shirt brands we carried, Gant and Sero, so that I could help customers find the best shirt for them. He let me sit in on the conversations he had with the sales reps who came calling. They usually repped (represented) more than one line. Our Gant guy repped Reis of New Haven ties as well. I was in heaven as I listened to the rep pitch Mr. Ross, and heard Mr. Ross asking the tough questions. Sitting silent, I thought to myself, “Someday, I’d like to know enough to ask the tough questions.”  Much later, I’d learn to ask tough questions, but that was in a different industry and at a different time.

Mr. Ross was my mentor. He taught me everything. In return, he expected perfection from me. For example, the phrase, “Cuff/no break,” was not just a good idea, it was THE LAW if you worked for Dick Ross. Every day I worked, I’d come in and he’d look me over. If my pants had a break, he’d gently say, “Bill, adjust your braces.” I didn’t wear braces – he knew I wore a belt. That was just his gentle way of saying, “Fix it, Bill!!” After a few more episodes of “big break,” he blurted out, “Bill, it is better to endure the occasional flood than to live in a perpetual puddle!” At that point, I got it. There was never any break in my trousers again!

A couple of years into my part-time job, Mr, Ross asked me to represent his store in the University’s “Best Dressed” competition. I felt that all that I’d learned from him would stand me in good stead. It did! I was named the Best Dressed Man on Campus. I had learned so much from him.

Mr. Ross was the only person who mentored me in apparel. For the rest of my life, mistakes have been my teacher. I have made many, and I’ve had to address them on my own. For better or worse, I’m an analytic guy. I LIKE to analyze problems, find out what went wrong,  and work to find solutions. Being colorblind is not the least of them. Thinking through fit issues is just another issue. I’ve come to know what I want, and how to describe what I want to both retailers and tailors. There may be better, cheaper, and faster ways to learn the drill, but I found my way – and it works for me.


VR: How would you describe your style?

B: When I look in the mirror in the morning, I shake my head and say, “You’ve sure become a flamboyant old geezer!” Somehow, in my old age, the Madras jackets are a little bolder, the trousers colors a little brighter, and the pocket squares ride a little higher in my breast pocket. Somewhere along the way, those perfectly beautiful neutrals I started out with have mutated into something more bold. I don’t understand why. It just is.


VR: Which tailors or RTW makers do you favour and why?

B: First, I am a  Ready To Wear guy and, with one exception, always have been. About 30 years ago, though, I thought the next step in my sartorial development would be to start on the bespoke tailoring path by having a suit measured, a pattern made, cloth selected, and three or more fittings undertaken. Long story short, I loved the suit, but ended up hating myself. I learned that I’m a RTW guy. It’s just how I’m wired.

I give my ready to wear tailored clothing business to: The Andover Shop, Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and O’Connell’s.  Most of my purchases come from Internet orders. The only vendor who would recognize me when I called or visited would be Jim Fitzgerald at J. Press.

It’s much harder buying today than it was a decade ago! Adjusting for all the new Brooks Brothers models, the various J. Press manufacturers, each using their own patterns and their own interpretation of natural shoulder, O’Connell’s with several sport coat and suit manufacturers, each using different patterns, is painful. Add to this the advent of vanity sizing, with a 42R today measuring bigger than the 42R of a decade or two ago. My actual chest measurement remains 42, but in, say, Brooks Brothers Madison or Fitzgerald fits, I was once a 42R, but have become a 41R. It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes vendors make!

If the question had been, “Who are you rooting for? among RTW clothiers” my answer is, and always will be, “I root for the little guys!” J. Press, The Andover Shop and O’Connell’s.


VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your items?

B: Yup! Here are Billax’s stupid rules: 1) In the Ivy League Look all cinches, closures, and adjusters are invisible when standing. 2) In the Ivy League Look all ornamentation is exposed when standing. 3) When rules 1 and 2 are in conflict, rule 1 takes precedence.


VR: Who or what inspires you?

B: Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop and the Huber men of O’Connell’s. These entrepreneurial guys opened for business in 1953 and 1959, respectively. By 1967 one could hear the death rattle of Ivy style. A thousand Ivy retailers shuttered their doors. Only a handful remain. Gotta admire the grit of these gentlemen!


“Summer garden party wear: 3/2 Navy Hopsack Blazer, Seersucker vest, linen trousers, and Spectator wingtips.”

VR: What’s your definition of style?

B: The following definition resonates with me: A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed. In Architecture, Automobiles and Ivy League Men’s apparel this definition is applicable.



VR: Finally, what can Keikari’s readers learn from traditional American dress?

B: I’ve written that there are four sub-styles of the Ivy League Look: Campus, Country, City, and Club. Of these, I believe the Campus look best reflects the American character. When Yale introduced a Dress Code in 1952 that required a coat and tie to enter the Commons (the University-wide dining room at that time), Yalies responded by complying with the letter of the law. The Spirit of the Law? Not so much!  One can see pictures in Take Ivy (taken in 1968) of Yalies walking on campus in Bermuda shorts, OCBDs and Madras sport coats… wearing ties. Americans have never much liked to be told what to do! By the way, as Yale declared, in 1968, that they would admit women for the 1969-70 Academic year, they also abandoned the Dress Code!


“Cords, Orvis 3/2-roll Horse Blanket plaid, Polo coat. I am a country guy.”

Photos: the Billax home archives

In Baldassare Castiglione’s words


February 9, 2015 by Ville Raivio

If I remember rightly, my dear Count, it seems to me that you have repeated several times this evening that the courtier has to imbue with grace his movements, his gestures, his way of doing things and in short, his every action.  And it appears to me that you require this in everything as the seasoning without which all other attributes and good qualities would be almost worthless.”

– Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier

Interview with Rezső Kuti


January 9, 2015 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
RK: 37, sales manager at Vass Shoes.


VR: Your educational background?
RK: I finished school as sales manager, but did my postgraduate as winemaker/sommelier (don’t laugh, I love wines and oenology).


At the Lineapelle fair in Bologna, 2013

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your shoe enthusiasm)?
RK: I’m married with 3 children, 2 boys and a little girl. She likes my shoes. Daddy’s big shoes.


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
RK: My parents were merchants. I’ve been always in the shop, and back then they ran some book shops. I’ve read a lot and loved to sell anything so far. But when I’ve seen some well-dressed gents or women I’ve always felt something; that I have a passion for shoes, and clothing.


VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides the world of shoes?
RK: I am collecting books and wines. I love traveling, too.


VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?
RK When I began high school, I saw a lot of well-dressed guys, of course, they were very fashionable. But I thought I would like to wear more some valuable clothing. I asked my father where he’s buying his shirts, etc. I started so. Then we traveled a lot to Austria, Italy, and on these trips I saw what I had been looking for…that was the beginning.

Interview_with_Rezső_Kuti_at_Keikari_dot_com2With Eva Vass at the Shoegazing super trunk show in Stockholm

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the shoe trade — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
RK: Yes, I read a lot, at first only books, magazines. I have also visited some workshops. Since I’m working at Vass, I have a kind of “joker card” as I am the sales manager, so I can get “easily” into workshops. Also, here in Budapest, I have met a few people who are working for some big brands. I’ve learned from them as well. I’ve learned trading in a business school, and also a lot from my father.


VR: Please describe how you joined the Vass team and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
RK: It is a funny story. I was previously working always at the big companies as a sales manager. In the printing industry, in the wine industry. Then, in 2007, I met Mr. Vass. We talked for 30 minutes. About things, about life. After 30 minutes we both knew that we need to work together. He asked me if I would like to join the Vass team…I said yes.


VR: Do you have a favorite shoe model (eg. monk, balmoral, oxford, Budapester) and leather type?
RK: My favorite one is the Budapest derby on F-last and the Old English 2 on the F-last.


VR: Who or what inspires you?
RK: No question about it, it’s Mr. Vass! On 2nd place are the guys at G&G. It is also a great thing to be like an “engine” of sales at Vass. That gives me a lot of energy day by day.

Interview_with_Rezső_Kuti_at_Keikari_dot_com3The Vass team at Fierra Bologna

VR: What’s your definition of a good shoe?
RK: This is a hard question. The answer is not an exact thing. For me, it’s the shoe that I’ve just sold and has been paid! Just a joke! A good shoe should show the quality and should fit well. There are a lot of great shoes. In any range.


VR: The most recent new products from your company were quality bags and briefcases. Do you have other new goods in the works for next year?
RK: No, that’s it. We won’t expand but we would like to make even better shoes.


VR: Finally, why should Keikari’s readers try Vass shoes?
RK: They should definitely try our shoes. Once they do, they will understand why. If you wear them you will understand.

Interview_with_Rezső_Kuti_at_Keikari_dot_com4The re-vamped Vass store in Budapest

Photos: Vass Shoes

Factory visit at St. Crispin’s


December 30, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Justin “The Shoe Snob” FitzPatrick visited the venerable Romanian miracle maker St. C. a while ago, and now a bounty of extraordinary photos is shared for all and sundry. With only around 1500 pairs created per year, the maker is among the smallest artisanal shoe companies with a large reach online.

Interview with Roycru


December 20, 2014 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

RP: I was born around a year after my Father returned from the Second World War.  When I was a boy, I wanted to work for the railroad, which I did until my Father died.  After that, I worked in the family business, a chain of retail stores, which was eventually sold to a larger retail chain.  After that I didn’t do anything for a while, until around fifteen years ago when I decided that I wanted to work in retail again.  I then worked for several stores, and for a museum.  Around two years ago, working wasn’t fun anymore, and since then I have gone back to not doing anything.


VR: Your educational background?

RP: My education began at a school called The School For Nursery Years (now called The Center For Early Education),  It was a “Progressive” school.  I never have been a “Progressive” and I got thrown out of that school.  I had lunch near there a few months ago and I had my friend take my picture standing in front of the school.  As I am taller now and no longer have blond hair, no one at the school recognized me (although there probably isn’t anyone working there now who was working there in 1949). After that, I was able to continue my education for many years, and got thrown out of only one other school.


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

RP: As I was a horrid child, I thought that it was best not to add any more horrid children to the population, particularly since nearly all the girls I have known were also horrid children when they were young, so we were almost certain to have truly horrid little children.


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?

RP: My Father had grown up when the Prince Of Wales (later the Duke Of Windsor) was setting the style for young men, and my Father continued to dress in the style of the former Prince Of Wales, except that my Father always wore Borsalino hats.  My Father always wore white-on-white shirts that he had made by a shirtmaker.  He always wore shirts with collar stays and cuff links, and he once asked me if the Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button-down shirts that I wore were a little stiff or heavy.  That was the only discussion that my Father and I ever had about what I was wearing.

My younger brother never said anything about what I was wearing.  He now lives in London and New York.  The last time that he was here and we went to dinner, he didn’t say anything about my Gryffindor tie, and I didn’t say anything about his black shoes with tan trousers and a blue blazer.  I’ve seem him on television at awards shows and in photographs at the openings of his shows wearing a very nice double-breasted dinner jacket, but I’ve never said anything about it to him.


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

RP: Around once or twice a year, I still go for a ride on a train.  My friend and I go out for lunch, and since she worked in fashion publishing and later dressing people in show business, and since I worked in retail, we swan around looking in shops to see what’s new and interesting.  We like going into shops and talking to people who are still working in retail.  We take pictures of each other standing next to things, sitting on things, or eating things, which we to show to our friends and relatives so that they know that we are still up and around. We always seem to be having a better time than anyone else that we see when we are out.


VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?

RP: Since I started picking out my own clothes, I have almost always got most of my clothes at Brooks Brothers, which was located upstairs in an office building in downtown Los Angeles when I first started shopping there.  Many of the things that I wear now are the things that I got at Brooks Brothers in the sixties and seventies. I have looked just about the same my entire life.


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?

RP: I have always just gone into a store, looked around, and got things that I liked.


VR: When did you first find Styleforum, and what has kept you active over the years?

RP: I don’t remember exactly when I first looked at Styleforum, and I looked at Styleforum a while before I joined.  I like seeing what actual people all over the world are wearing and I am very impressed by the people who take the time and the trouble to take and post pictures.


VR: How would you describe your style?

RP: I have always thought (as do most of my friends) that it’s English style, but people in England (and the rest of the world) think it’s American style.


VR: Which tailors or RTW makers do you favour and why?

RP: Brooks Brothers before their unbroken series of very unfortunate ownership changes was my favorite.   Anyone who is curious about what went wrong with the entire upscale fashion industry might want to read, “Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster”, by Dana Thomas (Penguin Press, New York, 2007).


VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your items?

RP: I don’t think so.  I’ve always worn the same clothes.  In many ways, the changes in men’s fashions in the fifty years between 1965 and 2015 was almost as great (and maybe in  some ways greater) than it was in the fifty years between 1790 and 1840.  Sometimes I think that I am like some of the characters in H. Rider Haggard’s Victorian novels, who got their clothes in when they were younger in the Georgian era, and are still wearing their Georgian clothing in the Victorian era.


VR: Who or what inspires you?

RP: I’ve always just done what I wanted.


VR: What’s your definition of style?

RP: It seems as if, for the first time in history, there is a universal world wide style for all sexes and ages consisting of tennis shoes, jeans (or short pants), back packs, ball caps (worn indoors and outdoors), and tee shirts, which almost all people wear wherever they go and whatever they do.  Any other style seems to be a relic of a time that has gone and will never come back.


VR: Finally, what can Keikari’s readers learn from traditional American dress?

RP: Probably the same things that they can learn from looking at dinosaur bones, seeing what’s left of a time that has passed forever.  When I was young, everyone looked like me.  Now, very few people still look like me.  Eventually, probably no one will look like me.  Some time in the future traditional American prep-ivy-trad style will be as rare as knee breeches, tricorn hats, and powdered hair are now.

Photos: Roycru and mystery photographer

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