November 27, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
FA: I’m 39 years old and I’m the head cutter and co-owner of A.W. Bauer bespoke tailors. My title says head cutter, but nowadays my schedule includes much more than that. Apart from pattern making, cutting, fittings and leading the daily work at the workshop, I focus my energy on the creative vision of the company and interesting collaborations. On top of that I star in the Swedish version of Great English sewing bee, judging the performances of the contesters.
VR: Your educational background?
FA: I got my basic training by working as a tailor at the different theaters in Stockholm, from where I proceeded to becoming an apprentice at A.W. Bauer. First as trouser maker and coat maker, and then moving onto cutting and pattern making, all first at A.W. Bauer and later during a period at Henry Poole’s in London.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
FA: Since tailoring is such a big part of my life and always in my thoughts, my wife and three kids evidently get very much involved. My kids have spent so much time with me in the workshop during the years, creating dresses for dolls from leftovers or just playing, it’s practically a second home for them. They have grown to share my satisfaction in creating things from scratch by hand and both are most likely the only kids in the world who dress their dolls in custom made outfits of cashmere fabrics from Loro Piana.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
FA: Back when I started my training, my parents, especially my father, were worried about me joining a trade with no future. They really couldn’t see how you could make a living of it and, looking back now, I understand that it must have looked like a dead end. At that time most tailors really were dinosaurs. But in the recent years they have accepted that there is a growing demand for the service that I provide and nowadays they are really supportive and proud of what I’ve accomplished.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
FA: I guess you could say that I turned my one big hobby into my work. However, I am very passionate about a lot of things. Within sports I get my exercise from playing tennis and running, during the long Swedish winters I go skiing in the mountains and ice-skating on frozen lakes as much as possible. I am a big admirer of furniture design and architecture. I don’t watch TV and I can’t remember the last time I went to see a movie, but I love books and music. I read a lot and I always carry a book with me, I used to play in a band but now it’s been reduced to Spotify being the dearest app on my phone.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
FA: I started sewing at the age of 6 with my mother’s sewing machine. At the age of 14, I was altering secondhand suits for friends and myself, so basically I’ve always been interested in clothing and the making of clothes. As for, classic versus fashion, I don’t really see the contradiction. To me, it’s always been important to stay up to date, gathering influences from the fashion world but of course not to follow trends.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
FA: We have a big library consisting of old tailoring books from where we source inspiration of different cuts and silhouettes. Besides that, I have always had a habit of gluing myself to craftsmen more experienced than I, draining their knowledge.
VR: How would you describe your dress and the philosophy behind your own style?
FA: I stick to a clean-cut Scandinavian silhouette, always wearing suits while working, A.W. Bauer suits, of course. Consciously calmly dressed, because in my line of work the client is at the center. For me, less is more.
VR: How did you first join Bauer as head cutter, and what goals did you set for yourself in the beginning? How have you been received so far?
FA: My way to becoming the head cutter and co-owner has didn’t come overnight. I had to learn it the hard way. Bauer was a respected company but pretty outdated and dusty at the time I came onboard. The tailors who owned the company were getting old and in the mood to take on a new apprentice. They actually were in the process of closing down for good. But from the first time I visited the workshop, I knew that this was my dream. I made up my mind and basically forced my way in, persuaded them with whiskey and genuine interest in the handcraft. I worked for several years as coat-, vest- and trouser maker before starting my training as cutter. At that point I realized that we had to update the image of A.W. Bauer in order to attract the next generation of customers. My dear friend and fellow tailor, Martin Ekolin, and I bought the company, aiming to put Bauer back on the map and recognized among the world’s best tailors. It has taken us years of hard work and determination. But it’s surprising what you can accomplish when you follow your passion and make no compromises.
VR: Why should my readers visit AW Bauer in Stockholm?
FA:I would like to think that our 150 years of heritage and passion towards the handcraft make a difference. This is the real deal.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
FA: Surprisingly few within the fashion industry or among other bespoke tailors inspire me. I always get the feeling that everybody is running in the same direction as opposed to doing their own thing. What really excites me are the entrepreneurs who believe so much in their own ideas that they make things happen.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
FA:Style comes from within. It’s about that perfect balance between your personality and what you wear. The keywords are confidence and harmony.
VR: Finally, how would you describe the house style of A W Bauer & Co.’s bespoke clothing?
FA: Raised on the pure lines of Scandinavian design we lean towards a contemporary clean cut silhouette. However, based on our curiosity in every person’s unique style, we, a few years ago, decided to take the definition of Bespoke tailoring one step further. By abandoning the idea of a permanent House Style, and instead letting personality, lifestyle and individual fashion preferences form the outcome of each suit, all pieces we create are truly unique. All suits are cut and handmade in our workshop in Stockholm. A process demanding a minimum of 60 hours.
Photos: Jens Beck/A.W. Bauer