November 27, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
FA: I’m 39 years old and I’m the head cutter and co-owner of A.W. Bauer bespoke tailors. My title says head cutter, but nowadays my schedule includes much more than that. Apart from pattern making, cutting, fittings and leading the daily work at the workshop, I focus my energy on the creative vision of the company and interesting collaborations. On top of that I star in the Swedish version of Great English sewing bee, judging the performances of the contesters.
VR: Your educational background?
FA: I got my basic training by working as a tailor at the different theaters in Stockholm, from where I proceeded to becoming an apprentice at A.W. Bauer. First as trouser maker and coat maker, and then moving onto cutting and pattern making, all first at A.W. Bauer and later during a period at Henry Poole’s in London.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
FA: Since tailoring is such a big part of my life and always in my thoughts, my wife and three kids evidently get very much involved. My kids have spent so much time with me in the workshop during the years, creating dresses for dolls from leftovers or just playing, it’s practically a second home for them. They have grown to share my satisfaction in creating things from scratch by hand and both are most likely the only kids in the world who dress their dolls in custom made outfits of cashmere fabrics from Loro Piana.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
FA: Back when I started my training, my parents, especially my father, were worried about me joining a trade with no future. They really couldn’t see how you could make a living of it and, looking back now, I understand that it must have looked like a dead end. At that time most tailors really were dinosaurs. But in the recent years they have accepted that there is a growing demand for the service that I provide and nowadays they are really supportive and proud of what I’ve accomplished.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
FA: I guess you could say that I turned my one big hobby into my work. However, I am very passionate about a lot of things. Within sports I get my exercise from playing tennis and running, during the long Swedish winters I go skiing in the mountains and ice-skating on frozen lakes as much as possible. I am a big admirer of furniture design and architecture. I don’t watch TV and I can’t remember the last time I went to see a movie, but I love books and music. I read a lot and I always carry a book with me, I used to play in a band but now it’s been reduced to Spotify being the dearest app on my phone.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
FA: I started sewing at the age of 6 with my mother’s sewing machine. At the age of 14, I was altering secondhand suits for friends and myself, so basically I’ve always been interested in clothing and the making of clothes. As for, classic versus fashion, I don’t really see the contradiction. To me, it’s always been important to stay up to date, gathering influences from the fashion world but of course not to follow trends.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
FA: We have a big library consisting of old tailoring books from where we source inspiration of different cuts and silhouettes. Besides that, I have always had a habit of gluing myself to craftsmen more experienced than I, draining their knowledge.
VR: How would you describe your dress and the philosophy behind your own style?
FA: I stick to a clean-cut Scandinavian silhouette, always wearing suits while working, A.W. Bauer suits, of course. Consciously calmly dressed, because in my line of work the client is at the center. For me, less is more.
VR: How did you first join Bauer as head cutter, and what goals did you set for yourself in the beginning? How have you been received so far?
FA: My way to becoming the head cutter and co-owner has didn’t come overnight. I had to learn it the hard way. Bauer was a respected company but pretty outdated and dusty at the time I came onboard. The tailors who owned the company were getting old and in the mood to take on a new apprentice. They actually were in the process of closing down for good. But from the first time I visited the workshop, I knew that this was my dream. I made up my mind and basically forced my way in, persuaded them with whiskey and genuine interest in the handcraft. I worked for several years as coat-, vest- and trouser maker before starting my training as cutter. At that point I realized that we had to update the image of A.W. Bauer in order to attract the next generation of customers. My dear friend and fellow tailor, Martin Ekolin, and I bought the company, aiming to put Bauer back on the map and recognized among the world’s best tailors. It has taken us years of hard work and determination. But it’s surprising what you can accomplish when you follow your passion and make no compromises.
VR: Why should my readers visit AW Bauer in Stockholm?
FA:I would like to think that our 150 years of heritage and passion towards the handcraft make a difference. This is the real deal.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
FA: Surprisingly few within the fashion industry or among other bespoke tailors inspire me. I always get the feeling that everybody is running in the same direction as opposed to doing their own thing. What really excites me are the entrepreneurs who believe so much in their own ideas that they make things happen.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
FA:Style comes from within. It’s about that perfect balance between your personality and what you wear. The keywords are confidence and harmony.
VR: Finally, how would you describe the house style of A W Bauer & Co.’s bespoke clothing?
FA: Raised on the pure lines of Scandinavian design we lean towards a contemporary clean cut silhouette. However, based on our curiosity in every person’s unique style, we, a few years ago, decided to take the definition of Bespoke tailoring one step further. By abandoning the idea of a permanent House Style, and instead letting personality, lifestyle and individual fashion preferences form the outcome of each suit, all pieces we create are truly unique. All suits are cut and handmade in our workshop in Stockholm. A process demanding a minimum of 60 hours.
Photos: Jens Beck/A.W. Bauer
November 26, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Cordovan! It’s big in the USA but used for all the wrong reasons. It has a treatment on top of it which, in my mind, makes it look like rubber, and it cannot breathe that well either. Cordovan is 3 to 4 mm thick which causes countless headaches to shoemakers. Cordovan also looks too rustic for everyday shoes. But customers keep ordering it in oxfords and full brogues. If it is suitable for anything, it would be a chukka boot or plain derby with a rubber sole, and that’s it.”
~ Tony Gaziano’s word on the horse’s ass
November 24, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Most shirts have a washing tag with a recommendation of a 40°C washing temperature, but some of us adamantly wash at 60°C for thoroughness and OCD-friendly tendencies. K. Laitala and H. Mollan Jensen from Norway have kindly researched if washing laundry at lower degrees, to save water heating expenses and energy, will clean as well as doing so at higher temperatures. Their concrete abstract affirmingly states: “…this confirms that modern detergents are suitable for wash at 30°C, and the soil removal will in most cases be satisfactory for household use instead of the more common wash at 40°C.”
Kindly wash at 40°C or less to save the world.
November 23, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
AC: I am 21 years old and the Editorial Assistant for a luxury men’s lifestyle magazine.
VR: Your educational background?
AC: I attended an ordinary State School in Hertfordshire, which I loved. I have always taken pride in my work and I learned to appreciate the value of working hard from a young age. I applied to Oxford University to study English Language and Literature, and succeeded in being the first student from my school to ever succeed in winning a place as an English undergraduate. I attended Oxford for three years, specialising in Medieval Literature. I graduated earlier this year and then was lucky enough to move straight into the world of work.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
AC: My parents were sceptical for a long time about my obsession with tailoring and sartorial style, and were concerned for a time that I wouldn’t be able to find a job or a sensible career in the industry, but fortunately I’ve been able to prove them wrong, and they have both since admitted that I was right to follow my heart and pursue a career in the luxury menswear world. I’m an only child, so no siblings to contend with, fortunately. My girlfriend (of the past two years) has always been very supportive and indeed is extremely enthusiastic when it comes to my love of tailoring; she enjoys the way I dress and equally enjoys helping me to plan outfits and my wardrobe in general. She is always willing to talk through my thoughts on dress and clothing.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides classic apparel?
AC: I have a passion for literature (particularly medieval literature, obviously), so I tend to read a lot of Old and Middle English literature and history. I also love the theatre and have performed in amateur dramatics societies for many years; I’ve been fortunate enough to perform with some great people in great theatres – particularly at University, where I played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon and Count Carl Magnus-Malcolm in A Little Night Music amongst other hugely fun characters.
VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?
AC: My love of tailoring came about as a result of my love of Jazz music. I’ve loved the freedom and expressiveness of Jazz ever since I was very young, and as I got older and engaged with the world of Jazz more and more, I started to become interested in the elegant, polished tailoring of many famous early Jazz artists. The Jazz Age itself struck me as such an extraordinarily opulent, elegant era and I fell in love with the way that people dressed in the early twentieth century. And for men, this of course meant wearing well-tailored suits – and that was it.
I bought my first suit at the age of thirteen and it was a black and white chalkstripe double-breasted with very broad peaked lapels and a low gorge. It was the perfect modern take on a ’20s gangster suit, and I totally fell in the love with the way it made me feel when I wore it. I find a great pleasure in looking elegant and well turned-out, and that all started with this love of Jazz-Age style and tailoring. As I came to better understand classical men’s style during my teenage years, I realised that the reason the famous style icons of the past always looked so immaculate was because their clothing was well-made and well conceived, and they cared about how they looked and what they wore. This is something that consequently I have always wanted to emulate. I’m not interested in poorly made or cheap products that don’t have any allure behind them, or in mass-market fashion fads – for me, the things that are really beautiful are the things that are timelessly stylish and well made.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the trade — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
AC: I started my sartorial style site The Student Tailor whilst still an undergraduate (hence the name) because I knew that I wanted to connect with the luxury menswear industry and learn more about its make-up, about fine tailoring, shoemaking, shirts and so forth. I have built my own blog to a position whereby I’m lucky enough to visit and meet with a lot of different craftsmen – so I learn a lot simply by asking them how they work and what they do. It all gets written down in the blog, so readers can learn about luxury manufacturing and craft in the same way I do.
And of course I’ve learned a lot about how to dress, and about how luxury products are made by reading style books, guides, other blogs and websites – and through spending years developing my own sense of personal style. When I look back to how I dressed during Sixth Form, to how I dress now – you’d never know it was the same person. I had no idea about how to fit a suit, what colours, patterns and textures work together, no idea about good shoes. I’ve learned about the trade simply through my own personal journey – my own quest to be a better dresser.
VR: Please describe how your blog was born and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
AC: My blog came into being just over a year ago now. I offered to write some blog posts for London tailors, at the start of the university summer holidays, and wrote them two pieces. They loved the pieces but declined to publish them because they were in the process of reworking their social media. They did, however, suggest that the writing was good and that I should consider starting my own blog. I had wanted to find a way to engage more closely with the world of luxury menswear for some time, so I decided that it was a good idea, and that was that!
I just wanted to share my passion for sartorial style and classical men’s dress – I love the glamour and elegance associated with gentlemen’s dress and I love writing, so writing about my love for tailoring was a pretty logical thing to to do, really!
Now that the blog is established, I’m enjoying working on it very much, so I want it to keep growing; I’m visiting more and more artisans and being welcomed into more and more wonderful industries and workshops – all of which share my passion for quality and old-school elegance, and it’s just a lovely thing to be able to do and it’s lovely to be able to share this journey with readers and, offer them an insight into the lives and loves of bespoke craftsmen. I’ve visited several British tailors now, including some really prestigious names like Edward Sexton and Gieves & Hawkes, and I’ve even been around the Italian shoemakers, and had a tour of Liverano & Liverano – and I’d just like to be able to keep doing more of the same as the blog develops.
Its been hard work to drive the blog to the point its reached in only a year, but its been an extremely satisfying to watch the blog grow. I am very fortunate that many readers send lovely messages complimenting me on the blog and it’s very reassuring to hear that people enjoy reading it – I’ve had a number of readers stop me in the street and very kindly compliment the blog, and a number of tailors have also stopped me on the street to chat, or have even welcomed me into their workrooms to show me what they do. It’s an extremely flattering and generous thing to do, and it’s hugely exciting when it does happen because gaining an insight into the world of menswear was one of my main objectives when starting the blog.
When I create the editorial schedule for my blog, which I do every couple of months or so, I focus on how I can offer readers a balance; I try to have one bespoke project on-the-go at any one time, so readers can follow and learn about the creation of a particular bespoke or luxury British product, and learn about the in-depth process of creating bespoke products. I like to keep a constant flow of style advice and style discussion pieces available, so that readers can continue to think about their personal dress and personal style, and equally I like to offer regular industry insights; visiting shops, factories, offering interviews, etc., to try and give readers exclusive looks behind the scenes at the luxury menswear industry.
The schedule also allows me to track my progress and think about what to focus on; at the moment I feel that the blog is quite tailoring-heavy, and I’ve got quite a few features about different tailors coming up, so I’ve scheduled to write some style advice pieces and focus on a couple of accessories brands; hopefully a hatters and a tie manufacturer. So it’s just about offering readers a balance, really, in the hope that I will offer something of interest to every reader.
VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your commissions?
AC: I have always loved the Jazz-Age tailoring and the very strong Art Deco style that evolved in tailored menswear during the 1920s and ’30s – because obviously, as I mentioned above, it was the clothing worn by the famous Jazz Singers of the Roaring ’20s that got me into classic style in the first place.
During the ’20s and ’30s a passion for expressive, colourful tailoring and menswear exploded onto the world-screen for the first time; the world had just emerged from the repression of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and out from under the shadow of the Great War. For the first time people were able to relax, experiment and enjoy looking and feeling good. The result for men’s tailoring was that everything became richly coloured and structured – strong roped shoulders, hourglass waists, big peaked lapels, broad chests, double-breasted cuts and waistcoats, flowing pleated trousers – huge chunky overcoats, big fedora hats, colourful ties, pocket handkerchiefs, fine silks, correspondent shoes – it all happens during the Jazz Age.
This sense of expressive and masculine style has always appealed to me, and when I design my bespoke commissions and dress in tailoring on a day-to-day basis, I spend a lot of time trying to capture this sense of optimism and flamboyance. I look through archival material, read about the 1920s and ’30s trends, and study the shapes, cuts, cloths and patterns used in Art Deco menswear, before choosing how I want my suits cut and styled.
VR: Why should Keikari’s readers have a look at your site?
AC: I hope above all that Keikari’s readers would find my site engaging. It’s a site which focuses on and offers in-depth insights into classic, sartorial and tailored style – the site aims to give readers in-depth and exclusive insights into all areas of the luxury menswear industry, and some inspiring style advice all in one place.
The whole point of the site is to share my deeply-rooted passion for sartorial style, so the blog is a place for readers who want to engage (as I do) in the world of sartorial style; good shoes, fine tailoring, beautiful suits and lovely accessories. We all love these things – so Thestudenttailor is a place for readers to go and enjoy reading about a young guy’s friendly and unfussy approach to masculine elegance and sartorial style, and hopefully learn something new along the way.
I try to make the site as relaxed as possible, I don’t spend time being negative or criticising products or brands – I write without bias and always look for the good in someone’s work; so it’s a site full of what I hope are useful recommendations, as well as thought-provoking profiles of craftsmen and artisanal luxury men’s products.
I also have a section on the site entitled ‘commentary’ which offers my insights into current happenings in the luxury menswear world, allowing readers to engage in a ongoing conversation about the future of menswear and classic style – something that we are all passionate about keeping alive.
I get a lot of feedback from readers who say that they enjoy my writing because it’s warm and friendly in tone and I do try to offer content that is engaging rather than stilted or stuffy, so I would love it if readers of Keikari could take a look and hopefully enjoy reading what they find on The Student Tailor.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
AC: People who are expressive; people who appreciate aesthetics and art and who somehow channel artistic expression in their own lives. I love poetry, fashion, theatre, expressionist art and literature; those things in society which paint intense portraits of human feeling and creativity.
The ability to connect with our own feelings, and with the deepest, most powerful aspects of human emotion – good or bad – is what I personally believe defines humanity. Those individuals who understand and value their own emotions and channel them artistically; whether painters, tailors, architects or philanthropists – are the people that inspire me.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
AC: Style is the art of feeling truly comfortable with who you are. Masculine style icons throughout history have always been confident and secure in their sense of dress, their deportment, their manners, their taste, their character. Being true to yourself in all areas of life and having the bravery to be comfortable with your personal taste is the key to developing a sense of style which is natural and elegant, rather than forced or pretentious.
November 20, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Neil A. Lewis thought about tassel shoes back in November 1993. His story tells tales about the semantics of tassel loafers, once a garment of every man, which had been taken over by lawyers of ill ilk as well as lobby men. The regular cast of tasseled men in times past is also mentioned, and the model’s history to boot.
November 20, 2014 by Ville Raivio
The close reader remembers that I’ve been working on my first book. Klassikko: jokaisen miehen tyylikirja will be the first Finnish-language style book for men with a focus on the classics. It is the culmination of my first ten years spent learning as much as I can, first to amuse myself, then for teaching others about my passion. The text is finished now, and the book is only missing photos, which are on the works, and layout, still missing many shots. Hopefully it will come out in January and reach all men with an interest in living well, whether out of revenge or love for aesthetics, and the beatiful life. My publisher, Tammi/Bonnier, and I also hope to sell the translation and publishing rights internationally. I have collected the best classic works available and made sure The Classic won’t be just another copy-paste or GQ-pastiche more. Several of the texts I’ve translated for Keikari’s international version already to offer something that’s missing from the strange and wonderful world of menswear. Should the kind reader work in publishing on any corner of the Earth, please get in touch.
November 19, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“…Now Armani has a wide sliding scale of different labels and sold his most widely available mall brand A/X for an enormous amount, supporting the empire of his more prestigious lines, including homewares and cafes. Armani can also focus on promoting his halo lines, the top boutique lines that shed prestige on the rest of a brand, so the world is treated to a man who looks like a deep-fried Cheeto in Simon Cowell’s T-shirt making disparaging comments about real tailors in order to sell factory-made clothing.”
November 15, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Apparently…it was the very fact that late Victorian and Edwardian society wore so much black for day wear that the ‘new’ lounge suit wearers purposefully avoided black. It seems, they wanted to distinguish themselves from their stuffy forbears. After a while, black became the more cloistered choice with additional and various reasons invented by retailers to demonize it as a selection and steer buyers to the more readily available charcoals and navies.
During this period (Roughly 1920-1980), black became an increasingly odd choice for daywear. When the solid black suit was seen, it was usually seen on people whose occupations demanded it for purposes of mourning, formality or purposeful social color differentiation from the clientele. Further, the black suits were often not of the best quality, reinforcing the idea that a solid black suit was an inappropriate choice for a man of taste. Throughout the mid twenties to the late 70s a black suit was an odd choice for a lounge suit indeed.
Certainly, the black solid suit must have fallen squarely off the ivy league bandwagon for fashion designers (and eventually, the entire fashion industry) to choose it as the suit color to distinguish themselves from those tedious corporate or ivy league types. Armani, Versace and subsequently Donna Karan and others began to use black as the newer, Hip-per color for younger men, for evenings out. As a result, It was adopted as a staple by all the very fringe groups who ironically contribute so much to the mélange that is American male (versus English male) style.
Thus it came to pass that the professional athlete or singer, the alternative lifestyle community, African Americans (ever an invaluably stylish American resource), the dot-comers, and artists all donned le style noir. For many reasons, it was a sound choice in these circles, whether it was the Hollywood set, or merely talented persons who wanted to escape any class or educational associations from their past. Black has power, mystery, sex appeal, it slims, it is counter culture and it is undeniably formal and appropriate also. It is the color of the night, of the city, of things modern, the new age. Also, at some point, there was a concurrence amongst the egalitarian (but talented) smart set, rather than try to compete (at a disadvantage) with those to the manor born, they would create their own “Oxford and Yale”. It amounted to nothing less than a new clothing dialect that announced their membership to their own clubs and universities. A new lingua Franca, for a new aristocracy of the asphalt night.”
~ the rascal known as “Filmnoirbuff”
November 15, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Yet another treasure trove of inspiration and awe from the pages of AA and Esky is available after joining the incomparable London Lounge.
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio