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


Lawyer Edward Hayes Says

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January 6, 2021 by Ville Raivio

“The thing about nice clothes is, when you put ’em on you hope that someone’ll ask you to take ’em off.”

– Eddie Hayes


Anatomy of TLB Mallorca boots

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December 18, 2020 by Ville Raivio

TLB Mallorca, founded in 2018, is a new shoe factory that’s gathered a bit of praise online. Its eccentric name comes the initials of the founder, Toni Llobera Barceló, who used to run the factory operations of another Spanish maker, Yanko. TLB operates from Mallorca and caters to the segment of medium-priced Goodyear-welted shoes in classic models.

Apart from their regular lineup, they also make a higher grade of footwear called Artista that’s gathered rave reviews. The factory’s calfskins come from France and Italy, the welts are cut close, and the lasts are shaped to middling proportions. Neither aggressive nor (John) blobby. I’ve had my eye on the maker for quite a while now but had no prior knowledge of their regular lineup. Luckily Pediwear, the long-established English retailer, sent over a pair for Keikari’s perusal.

 

The Scott-model is TLB’s version of the dressy balmoral boot, which was likely the most popular men’s boot style up until the 1930s. After a few World Wars, men just didn’t take to formal clothing as before. Then balmorals shortened into oxfords and these are worn year-round. Still, the oxford is not as useful when the winter chills arrive and there’s still enough interest for dress boots to ensure production. This boot has a high shaft with 10 eyelets, enough to protect any ankle from wind and rain along with the rubber sole. Despite its look, the factory’s rubber sole is not Dainite-make but a similar mixture with a similar grip.

What separates Scott from other balmoral boots is the full leather stiffener inside the heel. On most others, this vital supporting part is plastic or a mixture of ground leather and glue. Another point of interest is the lining, which is calfskin instead of cowhide. Leather stiffeners will likely last longer and will surely conform to the shape of the heel better. The uppers are smooth calfskin with a few thin veins and a strong smell.

The boots are made on TLB’s softly square Alan-last which curves moderately around the heel and around the waist of the sole. The fit of the last is regular around the ball of the foot, but the fit is higher than what I usually see on top of the toes. The instep is again regular, but the top of the shaft remains loose. The last will not likely suit men with low feet or narrow ankles. The lining feels soft but stickier than most.

The boots have handy pull tabs, the welt is cut close and tidy. As the shaft is higher than usual, the model will not likely please men who want all things in life and fast and easy as possible. It takes a while to untie all the laces and manoeuvre the feet off, but the look is formal. As for the design, Scott is as classic in proportions and look as a balmoral can be. This will please the traditionalist. Ultimately the leather stiffeners and higher shaft set TLB’s version apart from others.


An Interview with André Zimmermann

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December 17, 2020 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

AZ: 36. I am currently working as a freelance consultant, helping my clients to (hopefully) improve their communications. This means basic work from writing compelling texts and speeches to more elaborated strategic advice and campaigning concepts.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Vintage Barbour jacket paired with wool tie and tweed cap

 

VR: Your educational background?

AZ: I hold a master’s in political sciences with minors in cultural anthropology and public law. I graduated from the University of Kiel in Northern Germany, which is also my hometown. I spent some time abroad in Göteborg at the School for Global Studies and in Stockholm, working for an intergovernmental organization. I have also been to China to explore the country and Chinese culture. After more than seven years in Berlin, I am now living in the most British of all German cities, Hamburg.

 

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

AZ: No kids, no wife. Or is it no wife, no kids?

A proper country wardrobe would be incomplete without animal print ties

 

VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you became interested in clothes?

AZ: “Let him do his stuff…”

 

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

AZ: I am a passionate road cyclist, runner, coffee drinker, whisky tippler (Scotch, mostly), book collector, munro bagger (far too many still on the bucket list).

 

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

AZ: My interest in style and clothing emerged while working in a menswear shop during my university time. I sold shirts and ties, but mostly the stuff you can buy on the high street. This was also my first encounter with the fashion business and the fast fashion concept. I saw the overproduction, masses of shirts and ties that likely would never be sold. That really makes you reflect on all things fashion, especially the economic power of the retailers and brands involved in the whole process from production to selling clothes. Fashion retailers are large enterprises, they need to pay their employees, they need to serve their customers and they need to keep their shareholders happy. That’s ok.

Style-defining for a preppy look: bright colours, button-down oxford shirts and bows

 

However, it always about the how. And this is something we can influence since the most powerful part in the value chain is: us. It’s fundamental how we as consumers act. We all should ask ourselves: How can I contribute to change the world for a better? Can I refine my consumption patterns, for instance shop local or buy less? In the end, we have the choice. It is completely up to each one of us to take the simple decision: to buy or not to buy.

Surprisingly, I try not to follow (fast) fashion trends. Most of the pieces I wear are pre-owned and come from thrift stores, eBay or platforms like Vulpilist. I love browsing vintage stores and the excitement of discovering new old things with a certain history, always hoping that the catch is as thrilling as the chase. In this context, sustainability is truly an important aspect for me. I always try to buy items that have the potential to last forever. The poem Endymion from the remarkable John Keats opens like this: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness […]”. These lines are brilliant and sum up my admittedly romantic connection to fashion and dressing. I’d rather save my money and buy a thing of beauty than a cheap piece that is ephemeral. Beauty, as Keats suggests, stays forever. It never fades away. That’s true. If I look at my well-worn Chrysalis tweed shooting coat (even after years it looks like coming right out of the factory), my twenty years old Barbour jacket or my Tricker’s penny loafers, the beauty even increases with the time passing. Give them some love, tenderness, Burgol shoe polish and a proper re-waxing, and they will keep you happy forever.

Barbour jackets are pretty versatile garments and can also be worn rather casually

 

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of dressing up — from books, in-house apprenticeship or somewhere else?

AZ: Most of my knowledge and inspiration comes from books. I always loved to approach fashion and dressing from different perspectives: culturally and historically, politically and obviously literally. I have always been curious: Why are people dressing like this today and why did people dress like that yesterday? What are the societal mechanisms of fashion, how does fashion evolve and develop?

Many people think fashion is trivial and academia has discredited fashion as a superficial and shallow subject for far too long (and sometimes still does). However, from a sociological and anthropological point of view, fashion is a social product. There is culture, there is meaning and there is communication. Fashion can only emerge in reciprocal interactions between individuals or social groups. Looking at the past three centuries, fashion had a massive impact on social, cultural, and aesthetic modernisation. Trying to understand these transformative processes of social negotiation and mediation can be very informative and , yes, also entertaining.

The most fascinating of all cloth: Harris Tweed

 

VR: What’s your definition of style?

AZ: Well, it is difficult to define style in absolute terms. Style is used in so many ways by so many different disciplines, it seems rather resistant to any rigid definition. However, when trying to pin down what style is, I would say it’s a continuation, a cultural manifestation of a specific way of dressing. Style has a different quality in terms of time and space compared to fashion which can pop up instantly. Style is something that evolves over a long period of time and persists, aiming to create a kind of uniformity, something that one would say is permanently “typical” for a certain way of dressing. Take Preppy for instance. The sportive, relaxed and elegant collegiate look has evolved over decades. Today, most of us would refer to khakis, Weejuns and Shetland jumpers knotted over the shoulders as typically “preppy style”. Specific items have become an emblematic representation of the preppy concept and are understood by those who use them and share a common understanding of the vestimentary and rhetoric codes. But not necessarily all people understand them. And that is the great fashion and style conundrum. Why is something perceived a style?

In this context, I like the metaphor to treat style and fashion as (social) hieroglyphs. Just as hieroglyphs, styles and related clothes or adornments carry an enormous amount of information. They hide and reveal social status at the same time. They are inclusive and exclusive. They represent our definitions and expectations of the world. Deciphering these hieroglyphs and unravelling the conundrum is a pretty fascinating thing.

Source of inspiration and sartorial wisdom: Books on style, fashion and tailoring

 

VR: How would you describe your style?

AZ: The fictional James Herriot occasionally meeting Bertie Wooster for a drink or two. At times, especially when it’s dark and cold outside and both guys are tipsy already, Captain Archibald Haddock is knocking on the door with a bottle of Scotch in his hands (cask strength, for sure).

 

VR: Who or what inspires you in life?

AZ: Style-wise, the Instagram accounts of Bobby Waterhouse, Fabio Trombini , Tintinfellow and Zehbucow are great sources of inspiration for me. No one can wear tennis socks as smartly and elegantly as Bobby (not to mention his double-breasted outfits), indulging in the “memoirs_of_fabio” is the sweetest kind of escapism, Tintinfellow is as much entertaining as it is instructive when it comes to Britishness and gardening, and Stefanie impresses through sartorial creativity and very unique vintage dresses.

The truly British heritage of the preppy style is obvious: Shetland vest with fair isle pattern and Barbour jacket

 

VR: Finally, looking through your IG-account, your look seems very English. What do you view as the cornerstones of a nice British country style?

AZ: A proper (British) country wardrobe should definitely include Scottish tweeds. For me, there’s hardly any cloth compared to tweed. I actually love every aspect of the fabric’s production. It begins with the fact that clò-mòr (the Gaelic name which means the big cloth) must be hand-woven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. Harris Tweed is thus the epitome of sustainability and craftsmanship. And the only textile in the world that is entirely handmade and has its own parliamentarian act. How cool is that?

There are only few (if any at all) fabrics that are as versatile as tweed. Classic checks, herringbones, windowpanes, houndstooth, dogtooth, gun checks, Prince of Wales checks – you name it! And the distinctive texture and the feel of the cloth. It can be rough and tough, soft and gentle, colourful, dull, thick, thin, the variety of colors and patterns is endless. Tweed allows much flexibility.

And what’s most fascinating about tweed is that the cloth is imbued with something very personal and enchanting: There is a story inherent in every yarn. When wearing tweed, you can see the weaver in his shed pedalling the loom, you can hear the rhythmic rattling and clacking of the old machines, you can see the spectacular sandy beaches and the rugged coastlines of the Hebrides, the mossy greens, the rusty browns and earthy yellows of the island’s landscape, you can feel the cloth finished to perfection in the mill. Tweed is literally woven into the DNA and the identity of the islands. Tweed, in short, is magic.

Now you just need to throw on your old, shabby Barbour Beaufort jacket and the Plus Fours from Campbell’s of Beauly, put your wellies on (don’t forget the shooting socks with garter ties, even if you don’t go hunting this really adds some field sports flavour to the dress), keep your head warm with a proper tweed cap and off to the estate it goes.

https://www.instagram.com/lord_catten/


The Keikari List of Great eBay Sellers

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September 26, 2020 by Ville Raivio

Over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time on eBay. Its selection is peerless and I’m spared the trouble of trawling through vintage stores which, to be frank, often have stock that doesn’t cross the bar. In the interest of my readers, today I’m sharing a list of sellers I’ve saved over the years. I won’t go through each one as most of them are individuals instead of stores, so there’s little info to be shared. All of them, however, have interesting clothes for sale for men who care about artisanal make, fine cloths, or rare items. The selections vary as time goes by and these sellers have fair enough prices to make the cut. Have a look below.




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