November 30, 2013 by Ville Raivio
’I am 29 years old, and I am a co-founder of Carson Street Clothiers, a luxury multi-brand menswear retailer and fashion label in New York City. I earned my BA in History and Journalism from NYU in 2006 and a JD from Villanova University School of Law in 2009. My father was a Studio 54-esque, greasy Italian immigrant from Calabria who settled in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in the ’60s. He has some absolute gems when it comes to the vintage photos department: he and his brothers had such sprezzy, interesting style back then; long sleeve polos, big collars, chest hair, double breasted suits, fedoras – really cool stuff. I am an avid chess player and love to visit museums. You just learn so much from either activity.
The first identifiable moment I became aware of my interest in fashion was in my teenage years in the late ’90s, when my older cousin took me on a shopping trip to NYC. I grew up in Staten Island, so I wasn’t very far away, but my knowledge of the city was extremely limited. He took me throughout SoHo (he had a MASSIVE apartment back then – the neighborhood has changed so much) and up on to 5th Avenue to shops like Moschino, Atrium, Emporio Armani and Prada. I was blown away.
Moschino was my favorite – I would save all my money from delivering pizzas to buy a couple of traffic tees. Man, I wish I still had those tees. As per classic style over fashion, things really changed when I studied abroad in Paris in 2004 – Parisians just had this je ne sais quoi about them…a leisurely confidence that I wanted to mimic in timeless pieces. It took me quite some time to reach that point, and I am still learning (as I hope I always will), but boy did that change my perspective on things.
[My knowledge comes from] books, traveling and the Internet. Also, just living in NYC – there’s so much amazing style around us, sometimes all you have to do is pick up your head and take a look around. I gravitate toward a contemporary, cropped, tailored aesthetic. My favorite brands (besides Carson Street, of course) include Patrik Ervell, AMI, Michael Bastian and Eidos Napoli. I just like to have fun with my clothes.
Matt (my business partner and co-founder) and I went to law school together and were roommates for our last two years in Philadelphia. We always knew law wasn’t really for us and plotted throughout law school to potentially go into business together someday. Right around the time I was growing tired and unimpressed with law (mid-2010; it didn’t take long), I started writing a style blog called Nice Try, Bro. From there, I went on to meet so many designers and editors in the industry – we really felt like we had a good base and support system to get started. And so it went.
We have been blessed to receive great press thus far, and the response to it has been even better. Much love and thanks to all of our supporters! We’re not in the business of telling people why (or why they should not) do one thing or another. We believe the proof is in the pudding: a beautiful product, excellent customer service, interesting employees, comfortable accommodations, and a masculine and refined aesthetic – come on by and judge for yourself!
The CSC house brand is a fusion of classic American and contemporary European (namely, Italian) sensibilities personified. We manufacture shirts, trousers, ties, square, sports jackets and now footwear (with other small leathers on the way) with an eye toward longevity and durability. All products are currently made in America, Italy, and France. We use only the finest mills, manufacturers, hardware etc. – we are a detail-oriented company that will not produce anything but high quality garments for our clientele.
Our CSC footwear drops very soon (we will have 9 different models), and we are continuing to expand our label. Expansion is always in the back of our collective mind, so…yeah…stay tuned! Who or what inspires me? Who – My father. What – Life. My definition of style is one’s individual interpretation of how one dresses and presents himself on a day-to-day basis. As for tips, get the basics down first; experiment later.’
Photos: Carson Street Clothiers