February 22, 2017 by Ville Raivio
Last year, with the help of Buday Shoes Ltd., I set about to try yet another Hungarian shoemaker I had read about but not seen in person. The end result is arrived in the form of the Pismany model: a gimped austerity brogue made on the London-last from mid-brown boxcalf by the Perlinger tannery, with single oak-bark leather soles, double-spaced lacing, piping around the ankle, steel toe plates and clean seamless heelcups. To make the pair more personal, the shoes were also made to measure and feature bright blue lining along with an undyed welt top and white welt stitching. These small details delight the owner, but won’t stand out like the ever-more popular “luxury” sneakers that feature stamped brand logos. In having clothes made, there is no need to shout — a commission is already personal without large gimmicks.
Pictured below, some shots of the pair in the making.
February 6, 2017 by Ville Raivio
R. Culturi is an accessory webstore founded in 2015 by Anthony Brovchenko and his wife. Unlike most stores, RC’s wares are unique to the company as the printed designs are original pieces from artists around the world. The company collaborates with each artist on their respective pieces and has them made from start to finish in Como, Italy. The current range covers pocket squares, ties and scarfs with prints from various artists around the world, from Finland to Mexico, and with hand-rolled edges on the finished accessories. R. Culturi’s blog features interviews with chosen artists along with links to their online galleries and biographies. The company sent over a handkerchief and a scarf for presentation.
Mr Brovchenko tells me about their origins, “R. Culturi was a way to fuse classical men’s and women’s styling with art and culture. After having moved from the U.S. to Europe, I began to travel quite a bit. I visited countries across Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia and immersed myself in learning about the history, language, and culture of the peoples from the various cities and countries. My wife was already much more well-traveled than I.
This, of course, led to an interest in the artwork, both traditional and contemporary, that could be found in each country. I also had, and continue to have, a passion for quality craftsmanship in shoes, clothing, and accessories. R. Culturi was born from the combination of these two fascinations. In having a conversation with one particular artist, I was shocked to find out that she had done some textile work for a major retail brand but was stripped of all legal rights to show that work or use it in her portfolio. We felt this was unfair, hence our philosophy to always celebrate each artist and tell their story along with the artwork.”
As for the selection process, he continues: “You needn’t be a scholar of art history or a critic to appreciate art. We feel that art is anything that elicits an emotional response and curiosity from the audience. Hence, rather than contacting well-known or ‘popular’ artists, we decided to search for talent from places that may not be on the map in the global art scene. It’s difficult to build a name for yourself in cities like New York, Paris, London, or Tokyo. But what about if you’re from Lviv, Iloilo City, or Yerevan?
Artists from these places have no less talent than those from mega-metropolises, yet they have significantly less potential reach. Thus, we went about searching for artists from these types of places via forums, online art portfolio websites, and word-of-mouth. The criteria we used in our selection was simply whether the work was interesting, unique, and spoke to us in some way. We also had to be mindful of how their particular style would translate to printed fabric.
In terms of manufacturers, we sampled a dozen different silk and textile printers throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia. Once we finally found our manufacturer in Como, it was clear that their work and attention to detail was leagues above that of anybody else. They’re a small, family-owned mill that’s been in business for over 40 years, surviving the ‘fall’ of Italy as the world’s foremost silk manufacturer and printer. They, more than anybody else, were able to translate designs that were painted or hand-drawn onto fabric without losing the essence of the original artwork.
Finally, I asked why Keikari’s readers should have a look at RC’s wares: “Great question. At the end, it comes down to whether something speaks to you or not. There are many well-made, beautifully designed accessories out there, but we want our customers to not only purchase something because they thought it looked nice or matched well with their outfit. We want our customers to have some sort of a connection to the accessory and to feel that they are participating in a living artist’s story. Maybe you bought it because you loved the design, but didn’t realize the concept until you received the package and read the card included with every pocket square, tie, and scarf.
Or maybe you were drawn to the artwork after reading the inspiration behind it, and learning more about the artist from articles we publish on our blog. In any case, we don’t want our products to just be part of a pile of stuff you have in your closet. When you wear our products, you have a story to tell with each one. There is significance behind every design. Every artwork is a completely original work made specifically for our collection. It often takes many months to create the final work and then a couple more to get it perfectly printed onto fabric. When you purchase something from R. Culturi, you are purchasing true art in design and craftsmanship.”
January 18, 2017 by Ville Raivio
Buday is an artisanal shoemaker from Hungary, founded by Gabor Gyöngyösi in 2007. The company has stayed true to the principles of the age-old manual shoemaking where machines are only used to sew uppers and linings. With six shoemakers and two office personnel, 40 shoe models, 20 leather types, 6 welt constructions and 16 lasts, of which eight in regular use, Buday exports a full range of footwear to ten countries.
Sole leathers are oak-bark tanned and made in Germany, most calfskins are German as well. As for a so-called House Style, the company representative tells me that “we are trying to mix traditional styles with modern shoe fashion influences.” Compared to most companies, Buday favours strong colours for its designs and patina work. For exotic leathers, the company sources CITES-certified hides from reputable retailers. Besides ready-to-wear, Buday offers made-to-order, made-to-measure and bespoke shoes. The final option includes a fitting pair and individual shoe trees to boot.
January 13, 2017 by Ville Raivio
“With beautiful things [like clothes], it is all about learning to wait, being patient. People today, they don’t want to give it time. But it is like love, it is like a relationship, it is like learning, like all the things we admire, it takes time. Anything that happens in the snap of a finger isn’t good.”
— Yukio Akamine
January 1, 2017 by Ville Raivio
The side elastic or side gusset or elastic sided shoe is an eccentric footwear type that has its origins in 1837. I’ve read several dates for the exact year, but have decided to put my trust in a museal source, courtesy of The Victoria&Albert Museum in London. One J. Sparkes Hall, bootmaker to Queen Victoria, launched his new invention back then; a “a slip-on boot with the gusset made from tightly coiled wire and cotton”, though it took three more years before this shoemaker of legend came up with an elastic similar to those in use today. His slip-on boot inspired the Chelsea boot, which was later followed by the Beatle boot and other elasticised models.
Side elastic shoes were made by the likes of Nikolaus Tuczek, a mostly-forgotten London cordwainer of note, and John Lobb Ltd., who still remember the late master with a model named in his honour. As patterns and styling go, the shoelaces are just replaced with a strong elastic that keeps the shoe in place. This seems easy enough on paper, but the fit cannot be adjusted without lacing. Side elastic pairs are thus a hybrid with the ease of the loafer and, depending on the details, often with the looks of a nice oxford. Most loafers lack the elastic bit, though, so they won’t stretch as well to fit the individual contours of the foot. Chelseas notwithstanding, well-made elastic shoes are not widely available in most high-street stores for reasons that escape me.
The example pair is the model Kibworth from the miracle makers Edward Green. I cannot remember when I first saw photos of elastic oxfords, but I knew I had to try them one day, the design intrigued too much. The pair is an older make with the former EG stamp, and doesn’t have a specialised loafer last. Instead it’s made on the 606-last, which they call square-toed but looks far from one, with hidden elastics and from Edwardian Antique calfskin. A combination of the looks of an oxford and the comfort of a loafer, I’m surprised more factories won’t offer elastic shoes. As things go, the shoe type seems to be most popular in Asia and Japan in particular, perhaps because shoes are usually taken off indoors in the land of the rising sun. As for other elastic shoemakers besides EG, at least Carmina and Crockett&Jones spring to mind if the reader would like a try.
December 27, 2016 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
GG: 66, founder/owner of Buday.
VR: Your educational background?
GG: Mechanical engineer.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your shoe enthusiasm)?
GG: I have two children, a son and a daughter, they are also infected with the „shoe virus”.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you decided to become a shoemaker?
GG: I have been working with shoes for 32 years, so my family wasn’t surprised when I told them I wanted to deal with handmade shoes.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides footwear?
GG: I love sports, sailing, and tasting good wines.
VR: How did you first become interested in shoes, and when did you turn your eyes towards artisanal shoemaking? Why classic models instead of fashion?
GG: I was about 18 years old and a young sport shooter. We often travelled to „western” countries with the national team. That is where I saw fantastic shoes, and bought myself one or two pairs on every trip. The other athletes gave me the nickname „little shoemaker”. I never thought back then that the joke would become reality one day.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the crafts — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
GG: I learned my professional knowledge from books, I have read nearly everything with the word „shoe” in it. I was taught shoemaking itself by old Hungarian masters, and, of course, I am still learning, I think it lasts a lifetime.
VR: How would you describe the House Style of Buday shoes?
GG: Our company is a family-run business. We can be characterized by a pursuit of perfection. In the early days I liked cool and trendy models. As time went by, I became more and more interested in excellent quality. I think the most outstanding shoes are classical Budapesters.
VR: Do you have a favourite shoe model (eg. monk, derby, oxford, balmoral boot) and leather type?
GG: I tend to love all models equally if we manage to make them perfectly. Then I can adore them for weeks.
VR: There are several quality shoe companies in Hungary — why should my readers choose yours?
GG: I find the fact that we have several excellent shoe manufacturers in Hungary a good thing, as a healthy competition leads to good results. Naturally customers should choose us because we are unique in Hungary (and not only here) in using 6 different welt sewing techniques. We are also unique in offering practically any colour choice, we finish dying the leathers outselves, sometimes we make as many as 3-4 different colour effects on one shoe. Finally, the perfect fit for our customers.
VR: What is your definition of a well-made shoe?
GG: Well-made shoes are created from outstanding materials, they conform on the last perfectly. They attract attention by their comfortably perfect fit, and noble simplicity.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
GG: Drive: we would like to manufacture the best, most beautiful, the most expensive instead of the worst, the ugliest or the cheapest Budapesters in the world.
VR: Finally, how can my readers find out if a shoe has a good fit?
GG: I would like to highlight a few criteria out of many. Firstly, the shoes must have the right length; second, they should fit around the bunions (it is not a problem if they are a bit tight first); third, the instep height has to be right with derby and oxford models. If these three things fit, and your heel is not loose, then we can say that the last and the model are both right.
December 22, 2016 by Ville Raivio
November 12, 2016 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
AP: I’m 59 years old and I’ve spent my entire career in the computer industry. I started out working in the computer center of a British university and moved to the US in 1981 and started working for a computer manufacturer and I’ve spent the majority of my career since then working for several computer companies. For most of my career I’ve been either a software engineer or I’ve managed software engineering teams.
VR: Your educational background?
AP: I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and physics.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
AP: I have two grown daughters who are largely bemused by my style renaissance. It’s also true to say, however, that my Instagram presence is largely due to their prompting. But when they were young, I did not dress remotely like I do now. They knew me as a father who largely dressed in jeans and polo shirts, a man who wore sneakers most days. So, the father they see now does not look like the father of their memories and I think that is disconcerting for them on some level.
I am very happily married. It is the second marriage for both of us. My wife is a stylish and elegant woman in her own right and it is perhaps because of her that I started dressing better than I did. Not at her prompting, however. It was more because I wanted to honor her, to try to be someone that she would be proud to be escorted by.
VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
AP: My mother was also a stylish woman and I think she recognized when I was fairly young that I knew how I wanted to look. She knew that if I wanted a particular look, whatever it might have been, that I was not prepared to compromise. I can look back and recognize now that, within the limits of a family budget, she helped me to express myself in the way that I wanted. She let me experiment.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
AP: I am a fairly accomplished photographer, although I don’t shoot as much as I used to. I cook and my wife and I enjoy enjoy wine. We do travel a fair bit, too.
VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics?
AP: I’ve always been interested in style and fashion, both men’s and women’s. But, as I mentioned above, I’ve lived most of my adult life in jeans and polo shirts. About four years ago, I had to make some changes in my diet and lifestyle to reverse a trend of increasing blood sugar. These changes had a side effect for me of losing around 30 pounds, too, and so I needed a new wardrobe. Over the years, I had accumulated a number of jackets, some of which now fit me better than they had in years. But even the jackets that fit me were rarely worn and I decided I wanted to change that. so I started to wear them, even though I was still wearing jeans and sneaker, for the most part. But over time, I realized I needed better trousers, which led to better shoes, which led to wearing a tie occasionally, which led to bow ties, and so on.
Then I began to do some research. I began to learn about how clothes were suppose to fit. I realized that most of my clothes were too big, for example, and as I learned more and came into contact with more resources, from which I learned more, I began to understand.
In addition, I had always harbored a desire to have a suit made for me by a Savile Row tailor. But I did not know which tailor to select and I was somewhat daunted at the prospect. But I heard of a tailoring firm called Steed Bespoke Tailors that is part of the Anderson&Sheppard diaspora and that visited San Francisco regularly and I decided to go with them. And it has been a good relationship.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?
AP: All of the above, I would say. Except, perhaps, salesmen. I would add online resources, too, as a major learning resource for me. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in direct conversations with some of the people that I have met online.
Clearly, menswear has standard texts by Boyer, Flusser, Manton, and others. But there’s no escaping that the internet is and continues to be a tremendous tool for learning and for obtaining items that, without it, one simply would not encounter. An example of that might be the French sock vendor Mes Chaussettes Rouge. I would never have encountered them if were not for their online advertising and for an article I read, online, about the socks that they carry that are used by the Catholic church. I’ve been to the physical store in Paris and I think it’s fair to say it’s not in an area where a typical tourist might wander. So that experience is a direct result of discovery online.
VR: How would you describe your personal style?
AP: To the extent that I have a style, it’s a combination of what I hope is a classic English style and then at times a fairly unrestrained exuberance bordering on dandyism. I love color and I love wearing things that few others would wear. For example, I bought some of the last few meters of an ivory flannel with a navy pindot windowpane from Fox and had it made up into a lovely double-breasted suit. I wear it on warm evenings, or sunny summer days and I love it. People notice it because you almost never see anyone wearing such a thing. But I have a gorgeous lovat green tweed jacket that is classic and conservative and occasionally people notice it because it is so classic and well cut.
VR: Which tailors or RTW makers do you favour and why?
AP: I use Steed, as mentioned earlier and Hemrajani Brothers for my tailored clothing. I have more or less stopped buying ready-to-wear clothing.
VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your items?
AP: I like to create a long line. I have my jackets cut longer than is “fashionable” today, and somewhat longer than many people are comfortable with. But it creates the line I’m looking for. I want my clothes to be well cut, to be comfortable, and to look like they were made for me.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
AP: My wife inspires me. She empowers me to express myself and to follow my own path. In terms of men’s style, I admire Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. If I could have a sliver of their style and gracefulness I would be a lucky man.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
AP: That’s a tough one. Style is individual. Style is harmony. Style is beauty. Style is being comfortable in your own skin and having confidence in your appearance. I don’t think you can have style without confidence.
VR: Finally, given your knowledge on the subject, how would you describe the dress of the American IT-crowd?
AP: Extremely casual. In my little corner of the industry, dress is virtually irrelevant. It simply does not matter how you dress. What matters is how you do your job. I accept that I work in an industry that is, even now, somewhat unusual in that regard. But where most of my colleagues interpret that freedom to mean they can dress extremely casually, which I also used to do, I have used it to dress the way I do now, in tailored clothing. Why? Because I want to.
Photos: The Poupart Archives
October 15, 2016 by Ville Raivio
September 15, 2016 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
CF: 41, Master Tailor & head cutter/company director, lifestyle blogger.
VR: Your educational background?
CF: BTEC fashion design, apprentice and then head tailor with David Chambers bespoke 1994-2007, Freelance tailor – Ozwald Boateng 2007-2008. In current role with Henry Poole ltd. since march 2008.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
CF: I aptly have a ‘Gentleman’s family’ (one of each). Daughter Reili, 9 years old, and son Coiry, 6 years old. They have to put up with a lot, as much of my business is abroad. I am all over America more than 5 times a year, for up to 2 weeks at a time. My wife works as a Senior Assistant Director for Sky Sports. Working in the media, she also likes to dress well. We compliment one another.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
CF: I used to be in a band as a teenager and I would design and make our outfits, I went to fashion college and always had a passion for clothing and design. My parents knew whatever profession I decided on, I would strive to make it to the highest level, and tailoring is quite an unusual profession, a great talking point. I always want to be the best I can and encourage myself to learn every element of my trade. For me, it’s important not only to talk the talk but actually to have the skills to back this up. Plus I’m naturally curious and can turn my hand to most things!
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
CF: I have a black belt in kickboxing and jujitsu from when I was younger. I enjoy playing golf and football. I also do some charity work and event organising. I cook a mean steak. I love to travel and visit new places. I property develop, too, when the opportunity arises.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
CF: I have always had an interest in looking good and from a very young age I was self-aware, and understood how I dress has a real impact on how people perceive me. I think I have progressively veered more towards classic style as I have got older (my mantra is, better with age). For me, you can’t go wrong with a classic suit, as it will never date. Although at times I like to experiment with my outfits, with a different-coloured trouser and jacket combo or use an unusual material.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
CF: I have read a few books but mainly my love of learning and creating new things helps drive me. I was the only person willing to attempt making a bespoke cover for the Aston Martin one77 for a Paris car show reveal, I will always push myself to take on new and unusual challenges as that’s how I can further develop my knowledge of how materials drape and problem solve to perfect and modify a structure. If I don’t know how to make something, I will keep experimenting until I can work it out!
VR: How would you describe your own dress? How about your “house cut”?
CF: There isn’t a ‘house cut’ — the whole point of bespoke is to make sure we meet the needs of the customer and create whatever they request. I would always advise, though, to select a structured suit jacket over an unstructured one as much of the hand work goes into the canvassing of a bespoke creation. I would define my own image as classic and clean with a modern twist.
VR: Please tell us when you joined the team at Poole, and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
CF: I set myself the task of becoming company director within 5 years when I first started at Henry Poole in 2008 (I actually did it in 3!). I joined Poole initially to learn the final part of my trade, pattern cutting which made me a complete ‘Master Tailor’. There are very few of us on Savile Row who can literally do everything from start to finish, I am proud to be one of them, that was my aim!
VR: Why should my readers choose the house of Poole over other Savile Row tailors?
CF: Poole is the founding and first tailor’s shop to open on Savile Row and the inventor of the Dinner suit. There is so much history at Poole’s (and a great ledger library in-house — customers dating back to 1800, including Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and, more recently, David Gandy). We have just as many American clients right now as we do British. For me, personally, I’m in my 5th year working in America, so I have developed some expertise for that market. I’m very aware of my clients’ preferences in the U.S. The most important relationship to maintain through the bespoke process is with your cutter.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
CF: I find inspiration in everything, everyday. Whether it be through Architecture, Art, music or clothing. I love anything that looks good. I am motivated always to make the best of what God gave me. I dress to impress, no matter where I am. Perception is key in my trade, so I must make my choices wisely, to be the best I need to look it. I never know who I will meet from one day to the next.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
CF: Style is creating your own identity, which expresses who you are. It shouldn’t feel forced. I don’t follow fashion generally as it dates pretty quickly. I understand what suits me already, therefore I don’t feel the need to jump onto a trend but I do keep an eye on it, though. Sometimes I find inspiration in a look which helps me develop patterns that work better for modern day tastes. I choose clothing to compliment my silhouette and enhance my image. I wear the clothing, not the other way ’round. People will always judge you initially based on your look, so remember; your clothing choices should be synonymous with the message you want to deliver and how seriously you wish to be taken.
VR: Finally, what’s your estimate on the effects of Britain’s EU exit on the business of bespoke tailoring?
CF: As a luxury product, we make for the super elite so I would like to hope it won’t affect our trade too hard, although it’s too early to say, really. I definitely think most industries will feel a bit of a pinch in the coming months, or even years, as people may be more careful what they spend their money on and be less frivolous. At the end of the day, business still goes on as usual, and to do good business you need to look sharp, nothing is going to get you noticed more than an amazing bespoke suit. My thoughts are that perception is key, so if you can look like you’re doing well in life, then you usually will!
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio