November 2, 2019 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
MR: I am 41 and I and the founder and president of LuxeSwap.
VR: Your educational background?
MR: I have an honors degree in Art History.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your clothing enthusiasm)?
MR: Yes, my wife Natascha, our 10 year old daughter, and our 15 year old miniature dachshund! My wife controls the finances of the company while I handle all product related work. Our daughter is used to the constant stream of clothing coming in from when she was an infant. However, lately, now that she is more aware of fashion and brands, she is making requests for items that we get!
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions to style back in the days when your journey began?
MR: When I first started dressing in classic menswear I was in my late 20s, so I would show up in tweeds and proper trousers, shell cordovan loafers and pocket squares and everyone would call me “grandpa”. I have always had a flair for the…shall we say…more vibrant side of dressing, so patterns did not scare me. In the beginning it was the biggest learning curve for me to master proper pattern combinations, as well as making sure textures were relevant as well.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
MR: Owning the business is a 7 day a week, 20 hour a day job. Unfortunately, that does not leave much time for extracurricular activities. Luckily, my biggest passion and hobby is apparel, chasing down apparel, and learning about its past and, more importantly, its future. I do try and carve out time on the weekend and enjoy poker and driving fast Italian automobiles.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards so-called luxury pieces?
MR: I took a job in college at Armani Exchange in the mall because my best friend worked there and I thought it would be fun to work with him. One day a gentleman walked in and he had on this fantastic suit (something you didn’t see someone wearing in a mall) and tie, a pair of black suede shoes, and he smelled amazing. I approached him to help and couldn’t help but ask what that suit was he was wearing. He said, “this is entirely Versace”. So I did my research on the brand and fell in love with Versace. Studying for my degree in Art History, Versace’s designs were so relevant to my art interests, and thus I began to learn about all other aspects of luxury.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the topic — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
MR: My 20+ career in high end retail was certainly the driving force in learning about the retail side of things, as well as costs, fabrics, and the technical specs of fashion. However, as things are always evolving and changing, there are many places on the Internet that I learn from consistently. StyleForum is certainly up there with the leaders, as well as Derek from Dieworkwear, who is an endless stream of knowledge. Put This On, Jacob Gallagher’s work from the Wall Street Journal, and Instagram accounts from our clients, who show how they are evolving in their style as well. The evolution of Ethan Desu has also been particularly interesting to follow as he went from perfect tailoring always during his Armoury days to now combining those tastes with a vintage workwear/americana vibe. His posts combining the two are really unique and something I am trying to emulate as well.
VR: How would you describe your own style?
MR: Ha, all over the place! I have an appreciation for all avenues of dressing, from vintage, to streetwear, to classic mens’ dressing. I think the evolution that it happening in menswear today is a really great thing. Some days you will find me in a vintage Nirvana tee shirt and APC Selvedge denim, other days a Napolisumisura jacket, Rubinacci pocket square and Gaziano & Girling loafers. Owning the business allows me great flexibility to dress without constraints.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
MR: Our clients’ satisfaction on both ends (buyers and consignors) is really a driving force to make our team push the extra mile to do our best for them.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
MR: Not following the cookie cutter standards and being matchy-matchy. Style is always within you and you should express that outwardly with your dress. If you take the best pieces of the best looks you like, put them in a bowl, swirl them up, and sprinkle on your own seasoning, that’s the best recipe.
VR: When did you set up LuxeSwap and what was the motivation?
MR: When I was working at Versace, we got a lot of clothes for free every season. At the end of the season, it was weird for me to just toss them, after all they were very expensive. This was the late ’90s and eBay was just getting going, so I decided to try selling there. It was so long ago that I would have to take pictures with a film camera, wait for them to be developed, scan them (!) into the computer and then sell the item. Once it sold, people would mail you cash and money orders in the mail. Imagine that today! Anyhow, my coworkers noticed how much money I was making selling these used things and they asked me to sell theirs as well. Soon I had half the store’s clothes for sale and we just progressed from there. Fast forward 20 years — and now we have thousands of consignors from most all 50 states in the US and over 10 countries abroad.
VR: How is LS different from other consignment stores?
LS: Because of our passion, experience and our knowledge, hands down. Anyone will tell you that they know about “high-end” pieces and can take a pretty picture and put a high price on something. But they don’t have 20 years in retail experience. They don’t have the knowledge that we do about the minutiae that men interested in #menswear do – knowing what a spalla camiccia is, how to identify grenadine silk, selvedge denim, and shell cordovan, things like that. I’ve seen some atrocious listings of consignment pieces that claimed to be specialists in the 1%, but they missed the most important information relevant to the value of the item. You wouldn’t go around showing the Mona Lisa calling her Mona Elise, would you?
VR: How would you describe the wares you stock?
LS: Our tag line for years has been “The World’s Finest Luxury Goods” for a reason. On any given week in our 500+ new listings, we have leather goods from Frank Clegg to Hermès, sport coats from Rubinacci to Zegna, shoes from Baudoin & Lange to Carmina, and more. We do also have top tier women’s brands but our focus is in menswear. We not only seek out the basic luxury brands (Canali, Brioni, Kiton, etc) but pride ourselves in having the of-the-moment and exclusive newer brands, such as Anglo-American, Stephan Schneider, Sartoria Formosa, and most of the brands found at No Man Walks Alone, whom we have a fantastic Trade-Up program with.
VR: Do you have favourite clothing companies among the many you’ve tried (and why these?)
MR: Very tough question. I see lots of pieces from all over the world every day and there’s lots of favorites there! I will always have a soft spot for Versace because of my history there. But for menswear pieces, Alden and Gaziano & Girling make up most of my shoe collection. I was a huge fan of Finamore shirts for quite some time, but G. Inglese has lately taken that crown. Tailored coats and jackets is a very hard one! Going to have to say either Sartoria Formosa or Ring Jacket there.
VR: Finally, why should Keikari’s readers try out the Luxeswap experience?
MR: Maybe an analogy is best. If you go to a sports game, you want to talk to other people in the stands about the team you’re rooting for. If you consign with us, you know that we’re the fan in the stands right next to you who knows all your favorite player stats, and can carry that conversation on for you and cheer on the team to win. Consigning elsewhere is kind of like watching that sports game in the library.