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A history of the Nantucket red cotton canvas


October 6, 2014 by Ville Raivio

The difference between fashion and style


October 5, 2014 by Ville Raivio

“There’s a difference between style and fashion. Fashion is that which comes and goes from one season to the next, it refuses to recognize the individual, and it’s by far the most costly way to dress. Style, on the other hand, is personally cultivated over years of introspection, is perhaps more concerned with quality and taste than the vagaries of a particular time, and speaks to those qualities which we consider to be of an individual nature: personality, idiosyncrasy, and freedom from coercion. To not consider the age in which one lives is to wear costume, but to consider only what others wear is to become a slave to conformity. The 18th Century English poet Alexander Pope said, ‘Be not the first on whom the new is tried/ Nor the last to lay the old aside.’ Good advice.”

~ G. Bruce Boyer

The Styleforum-Epaulet shell cordovan sneaker project


October 3, 2014 by Ville Raivio

I don’t own sneakers but I’ve liked the pairs I’ve seen from Buttero. The trouble with them is that they use no shell cordovan, which I’ve developed an addiction for. To right a wrong, SF has teamed up with Epaulet, who’ve teamed up with the Shinki Hikaku tannery in Japan, who’ve teamed up for finishing with the Comipel tannery in Italy. The deal is limited to 50 pairs per colour, and pre-orders are now open. I should receive my first smart sneaker pair next year.

Klassikko is coming


October 1, 2014 by Ville Raivio

It really is official now: my stylish men’s style book for living in classic style will be published in Finnish next year. My publishing agent will take part in the Frankfurt Book Fair this Autumn, and we hope to sell the translation and publishing rights internationally. I have translated many of my columns, essays and pieces for Keikari’s international version already: if the kind reader likes the content, I hope he will enjoy the potentially up-coming English book as well. The beautiful life, after all, is the only one worth living.

Custom leather goods from GION


September 28, 2014 by Ville Raivio

GION is an artisanal Hungarian leather goods maker founded by Peter Marton in 1979. I discovered the company while searching for a fully customised iPhone case, and Vass shoes’ very own Rezső Kuti advised me to contact G. for bespoke leather goods. As the savvy reader surely knows, Hungary has been able to retain many artisanal companies and schools despite the past Soviet gloom and its aftermath. This Paprika country also offers these goods for very good prices thanks to the Forint and local wage levels, even for custom deals. If my eyes tell no lies, GION also makes the bags launched as the latest range from Vass. I initially looked at shell cordovan iPhone cases from several makers to satiate my unhealthy cordovan addiction, but most of them are American and all of them have ugly models. Then came GION.
My bespoken case is a modified Tough model from the company’s current collection, made from Horween’s #8 shell cordovan with dark purple stitching and suede lining in the same shade, my favourite and Keikari’s chosen colour. As the leather is not part of GION’s stock hides, this project took about a month from payment to courier delivery, and cost 85 euros. The end result is, well, tough as the name implies, and nicely thick. The stitching is somewhat wonky on one side, straight elsewhere, and the case was a bit tight first. After several rounds of the old in-out, my droogs, the piece has loosened and all slides smoothly. The sides won’t bend at all, the middle part does. A nice surprise came in the form of two holes left at the bottom so that bleeps and clings from the iPhone are heard nice and clear. The cordovan horse rump is smooth, tough, has a lovely colour, and smells like a horse’s ass should. I am happy with and rest my case.

Antico Setificio Fiorentino


September 25, 2014 by Ville Raivio

How a shoe should break


September 24, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Nick Horween (of the Chicago, Illinois Horweens) has kindly explained the basics of shoe break and the factors effecting leather creasing. The following is great stuff for shoe nerds and iGentlemen alike.

Andy Warhol on mass production and equality


September 23, 2014 by Ville Raivio

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

~ Andy Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again)

Interview with Andrew Livingston


September 21, 2014 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

AL: I was born in 1962 and I am a fourth generation bespoke Tailor.


VR: Your educational background?

AL: I was educated at our local schools in Castle Douglas but also helped in the family business from an early age. My apprenticeship started at home but then I was sent to Ipswich to learn under Ted Glazebrook. My father met Ted in the ‘50s through the Tailor and Cutter competitions and he offered to help train me.



VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?

AL: I am married and my wife helps run the family business, we have two children and we are also grandparents. Our daughter lives in Leeds and our son works in the family business (5th generation).


VR:…and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?

AL: My father was very proud that I followed the family footsteps into the business, and we are proud that he made our firm the only Scottish Gold Medallist tailors.



VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?

AL: At present tailoring tends to take up most of my time.



VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?

AL: This really was bred into me; since 1896 our family business has been known for quality classic clothing, and my late father used to quote, “Fashion is fickle but style is here to stay.” I still believe this to be true and strive to uphold his mantra.


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?

AL: After my apprenticeship I started to realise how much I still had to learn about the world of bespoke, so, to expand my outlook, I went to work in London. Derek Jackson, our then Scabal agent, arranged work experience with Elias Christou, who became a cutter for Harrods, and then with Edward Sexton in Savile Row. I also enjoy reading tailoring books and the family has amassed a large collection over the years.



VR: How would you describe your own dress? How about your house cut?

AL: Scottish tailors were renowned for suits with quite heavy construction; I have heard this referred to as “Clyde Built”, like the ships. But we prefer a softer construction as I was taught in the West End of London. I like to create a bit of clean air between the sleeve and side of the jacket to help with the illusion of shape, and favour a straight shoulder line but only if this will flatter the customer’s figure type. We draft an individual pattern for each customer and this allows flexibility in the looks we offer.


VR: Please tell us why you decided to continue the family business, and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?

AL: To start with, I really was just following the steps expected of me to continue the tradition, my burn and passion for tailoring gradually grew as my knowledge and skills developed. As for my goals, the posts keep moving. Bespoke Tailoring is my life and keeps throwing fresh challenges my way.


VR: Why should my readers choose the house of Livingston over other British tailors?

AL: We have total control over our Bespoke garments because everything is cut and made in-house, this allows us to offer a more personal and unique service to our clients. Our business has thrived over the years through reputation, repeat custom and recommendation. In fact, many families have been loyal customers over multiple generations.


VR: Who or what inspires you?

AL: Edward Sexton is my inspiration and my mentor; I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and be molded by such a talented and influential figure in the world of bespoke. Also, I am grateful to have worked with and become a friend of the late Salvo Cannia, a Sicilian coat maker whose talents I strive to reproduce.



VR: What’s your definition of style?

AL: Style, in my eyes, is an exceptionally well-cut suit, coordinated with complementing accessories and worn with confidence and pride.


VR: Finally, would you say there are regional differences in the style of British men? What’s the Scotsman’s look?

AL: I think regional differences in style have been greatly reduced by the Internet; tailors now have a vast resource at their fingertips, allowing them to get influence from far afield. As far as Scottish style is concerned, we are trying out utmost to ensure our clients look their best and not out of place in any region.Interview_with_Andrew_Livingston_at_Keikari_dot_com8

Photos: G. Livingston&Son

Stephen Lachter, Savile Row shirtmaker


September 21, 2014 by Ville Raivio

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