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Interview with Aleksandar Cvetkovic

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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.

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.thestudenttailor.com


The Politicization of Tasseled Loafers

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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.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/03/garden/the-politicization-of-tasseled-loafers.html


It is finished

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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.


Giorgio Armani’s demise

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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.”

~ RJman


A photo history of men’s ties

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November 18, 2014 by Ville Raivio


Explanations for the popularity of the black suit

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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”


Apparel Arts and Esquire Images on The London Lounge

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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.

http://thelondonlounge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11287


Real craftsmen are dying off?

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November 10, 2014 by Ville Raivio

“It is ironic that luxury products are so prevalent in the world today and yet, at the same time, real luxury and real craftsmanship seems to be going down. Everybody knows Edward Green shoes or Hermès ties or Drake’s scarves and they’re all very well-made products. But there used to be dozens and dozens of good tailors in New York and now there are maybe half a dozen, and maybe only two or three custom shoemakers in the whole country. Everyone thinks about luxury but real craftsmen are dying off.”

~ G. the Bruce Boyer


Tailor’s tips by Giovanni Barberis Organista

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November 9, 2014 by Ville Raivio

TAILOR’S TIPS by Vitale Barberis Canonico Episode 1: Pattern from Vitale Barberis Canonico on Vimeo.

TAILOR’S TIPS by Vitale Barberis Canonico Episode 2: Preparation for cutting from Vitale Barberis Canonico on Vimeo.

TAILOR’S TIPS by Vitale Barberis Canonico Episode 3: Cutting from Vitale Barberis Canonico on Vimeo.

TAILOR’S TIPS by Vitale Barberis Canonico Episode 4: Linings from Vitale Barberis Canonico on Vimeo.

TAILOR’S TIPS by Vitale Barberis Canonico Episode 5: Jackets from Vitale Barberis Canonico on Vimeo.

Subtitles in English available with two small clicks.


A history of the fedora hat

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November 4, 2014 by Ville Raivio

The fedora is a soft felt hat with a wide brim, a deep dimple at the middle of the crown, and small dimples on both sides of the crown’s front. The brim circles the crown, the ribbon decorates the brim, and most quality fedoras also have a band that can be attached to the buttonhole on coat lapels. This way the hat won’t flutter into the ground should a strong gust whip outside. The man in the lookout for an individual look can bend his brim askew or customise the crown’s shape to his heart’s content. The fedora hat is named after the play Fédora, first shown in 1882. The French dramaturgist Victorien Sardou wrote his play especially for the legendary Sarah Bernhardt, whose role was the title one as the princess Fédora.

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In the play she indeed wore a soft felt hat with a strong dimple in the crown, and the brim turned up markedly, and this the audiences took to. Bernhardt was otherwise a well-known wearer of men’s clothes long before copyists like Marlene Dietrich. Inspired by the strong Bernhardt, suffragettes took the fedora as their own and wore this headgear on both sides of the Atlantic beginning from the last stages of the 19th century. This genderised joy lasted for a few decades before men took the fedora by horde and power as their own, and the prior hat styles lost their appeal before this new, softer one.

Compared to the popular top hat of yore, the fedora was cheap and warm headwear that could be conveniently folded into smaller space, and as it was also lower it was better suited to motoring. Thus it ousted the top hat, the hard homburg and the rock-hard bowler hat at the last by the 1920s. The fedora differs from the very similar-looking trilby due to its wider brim, and for this reason it also best suits the man wide in face. The finest versions were made from fur or beaver and rabbit felt, the cheaper ones from lambswool felt. Fur felt is still better quality as it flexes more, is warmer to wear and keeps its form when wet.

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The reader likely best knows the fedora from countless films made until the 1950s. The Great Loosening, or the abandoning of the formal culture of dress, began in the next decade and so the fedora was switched to a grand hairstyle or any other headgear that had no stench of the past. Still, this hat has partly stayed alive thanks to Hollywood, actors, musicians and bald men. It protects the head well and sets the wearer apart from a wide sea of beanies, and Indiana Jones, for one, couldn’t be imagined in any other apparel. Without the fedora all mafia films would be but pale mirages.

The felt hat is the warmest headwear a man can choose. Warmth from the head is stored into the crown, and natural hair insulates well and warms the noggin even more. Ears are naked, to be sure, but rare is the man who has lost his own to wind or frost. The fedora is very soft and flexible, so it can be handily folded into a bag, say, when stepping in. Fur felt models also return to their shape when the bent hat is raised up once more. In hat semantics, the fedora has always been a suit accessory and clearly more formal than a flat cap, but takes second place after the homburg due to softness. The bowler and top hat are another things entirely, for the former has nearly disappeared from all places, and the latter is formalwear. The man contemplating fedoras best think twice as this apparel has become a rare sight — and like all rare things it looks peculiar. If the verdict is in favour of the fedora, this trusty garment will keep its benefactor warm and stylish year to year.




Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio









Only a beautiful life is worth living.


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

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