April 3, 2015 by Ville Raivio
I’m not really one for lists though we live in the time of lists, and garb sites are no exception. Still, I’ve toyed with this mostly silly idea of the most over-used and silly words on men’s clothes sites, so here goes. When in doubt or loss for words to fill the empty space, the nascent style blogger/blagger/journalist/critic/arbiter/iGent is wise to splat one of the following into any sentence.
The Keikari list of silly menswear words
April 1, 2015 by Ville Raivio
“An exceptional life…for an extraordinary Man!
A connoisseur of quality, perfection and universal design excellence, Bijan was a genius marketer of perception and image for his men’s couture, haute and multi-billion dollar empire as the peerless purveyor of elegance and affluence, was uniquely forged in 1976 on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, by just three words, ‘by appointment only’, offering him unprecedented access to the greatest wealth in the world. He was a treasure of enormous admiration and Reservations remarkable creative brilliance.
Bijan was wise and voraciously charming, possessing the daring innovation of a true pioneer. He originated the embodiment of ‘luxury’ ahead of the world that had not even begun to understand the precise essence of the tenet. Bijan was a powerful leader knowing that what makes greatness is starting something that lives long after.”
– Bijan for Bijan on the homepage of Bijan
March 30, 2015 by Ville Raivio
March 30, 2015 by Ville Raivio
Daisuke Yamashita has a mission. He has travelled the world to meet as many artisans as possible, and documented his footweary escapades since 2002, well before the Internet exploded with menswear and style sites. DYshoes is in Japanese only, but the photos are universal and Google’s translation site has learned much. It will likely grow into Skynet one of these days. What’s truly troubling, though, is how prices for artisanal goods in Europe have risen in one short decade. Yamashita-san proves this in many interesting texts.
March 26, 2015 by Ville Raivio
March 25, 2015 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
NT: I’m 32 years old, and I make shoes.
VR: Your educational background?
NT: Before my apprenticeship at John Lobb Ltd. I studied for a BA Degree in Fine Art. I specialised in Printmaking – etching, lithography, silkscreen; the technical aspects of the creative process interest me far more than any of that hokum conceptual stuff that’s currently in vogue.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your shoe enthusiasm)?
NT: I’m married with 2 children. My kids are too young to have any sort of opinion, but as a shoemaker in a house full of women, I think my future outlook is pretty good, if a bit busy.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you decided to become a cordwainer?
NT: My family and friends have always been very supportive.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides shoemaking?
NT: I’m interested in pretty much anything that people can create and stamp a part of their personality into; particularly clothing, watches, perfume. I’m a fairly decent cyclist too; I generally ride about 300km a week or so. Bicycles themselves are interesting from an engineering and aesthetic point of view, too, so cycling ticks all the right boxes of exercise to the point of suffering along with all the technological and stylistic curiosity that goes hand in hand with it. Also, lots of coffee, can’t cycle without coffee.
VR: How did you first become interested in shoes, and when did you turn your eyes towards artisanal shoemaking? Why classics instead of fashion?
NT: In my younger days I was even more of a dandy than now, and shoes were always the thing that excited me the most. My taste was obviously awful at that age but I always took a lot of pride in the shoes I had and gradually managed to make better choices as I went along. I’ve always had a creative streak from an early age and enjoyed doing things by hand, but owing to the naivety of youth it wasn’t until I was at university that I had the eureka moment, and figured out I could make a living from making something I loved. As soon as the veil was lifted, that was it, there was no looking back.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of The Gentle Craft — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
NT: I was fortunate that when I was looking to learn, there w
as a firm looking to teach. My apprenticeship was full-time so I benefited from being fully submerged in pretty much the only place in the English-speaking world that has all you could wish to learn under one roof. It was almost enough to make you believe in destiny, and I set about asking as many questions of anyone I could without being too much of an annoyance. Books are a great resource, I spend a lot of time reading anyway and I’ve collected a fair few of the old technical manuals which I’ve learned a lot from, but there’s no better way to learn than watching someone actually doing it.
VR: How would you describe the overall style of the shoes you make?
NT: A lot of my inspiration comes from that wonderful period in our recent history, La Belle Époque, where craftsmanship essentially hit an apex before industrialisation really took over. We’ve lost an awful lot since those enlightened days, and so much of our craft has become informed by how machinery operates rather than how we once did, and I try to incorporate a sense of proportion, shape and fit that reflects that era in my work.
VR: Do you have a favourite shoe model (eg. monk, derby, oxford, balmoral boot) and leather type?
NT: I have many favourites, but I think I’ll always come back to a good old Oxford.
VR: There are hundreds of cordwainers in Europe alone — why should my readers choose you?
NT: There’s a lot of people doing great work out there and it’s the one’s being true to themselves that are generally worth investing in, so if you choose to order from me it should be because you like me and what I do rather than any sort of gimmick. I’m not a salesman for a conglomerate who just wants a sale to pass down to the next person to deal with, I’m the person striving to achieve the result you expect from me and I’m maintaining my own reputation, not someone else’s, so I don’t really have much choice but to succeed.
VR: What is your definition of a good shoe?
NT: A good shoe is one you could consider a friend, the one you insist on wearing for those big occasions.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
NT: People who aren’t afraid to do what they do in their own way. Philippe Dufour creates some of the most beautifully realised watches I’ve seen, almost completely alone and in the exact way he chooses. I like to tell myself sometimes that in another life I might have made a decent perfumer, then I look at the work that Jacques Guerlain and Ernest Daltroff left behind and I struggle to see how anyone now could create something as perfect as Après L’Ondée or Tabac Blond, if the marketing department even allowed you to try.
VR: Finally, what separates an English shoe from other European handmade pairs?
NT: Well, I’m about as English as a man can be, I learned in England, but I connect more with the French way of thinking, to be honest. I’m a bit of a Francophile anyway, my wife is French so that’s essential, and their passion for maintaining their craft and tradition is something I’ve always admired – something we’ve sort of forgotten about over here. We don’t have anything to compare to the Compagnons du Devoir, we don’t celebrate our Meilleur Ouvriers in the same way, and it’s a pity. So, while I think the work coming from London’s West End workshops in that golden age of a century ago is without equal, today I feel as though I relate to my contemporaries in France the most. I like to think I benefit from the best of both worlds as a result.
Photos: Nicholas Templeman
March 25, 2015 by Ville Raivio
Articles of Style has an interesting collection of style profiles, recorded for us since 2010. Dozens of clothes-conscious men share their thoughts on fit, colours, and developing a personal take on dress, and included are many of those featured on Keikari as well. Images show what their words may miss, and the photo shoots have been taken for AoS alone. Highly recommended.
March 23, 2015 by Ville Raivio
SuitSupply’s founder and CEO, Fokke de Jong, has his say on what separates the company from the rest. Warning: high volume video.
March 23, 2015 by Ville Raivio
D.R. Harris is a very English chemist and perfumery that has served the discerning St. James and Mayfair clientele in London since 1790. The company is London’s oldest pharmacy and still family-owned. While one of the founding fathers was a doctor and a surgeon, the letters refer to Daniel Rotely Harris, who developed hygiene goods for the company. Their range of scents and goods is unique, all are made in-house or sourced from the UK, and the company has but two retail stores. All hand and beard soaps are triple-milled for proper froth and lasting value. Shaving soaps contain plenty of tallow, and creams have plenty of glycerin, for glide and softness. The soaps come in round, low, wooden containers but, unlike the wording would have you believe, the “mahogany” jar is only mahogany-effect wood. A sticker below informs so. For what it’s worth, Harris has wielded a Royal Warrant from the past Queen Mother since 1938, from the Prince of Wales since 2002, and from Queen Elizabeth since 2012.
DRH has also become my favourite hygiene goods company. Brand me a romantic, but I do love the idea of a traditional Victorian shoppe filled with dark wood panels, thoroughly well-made soaps and scents, as well as beautiful little glass jars filled with pleasing scents. While the prices could be lower, Harris is among the smaller British hygiene makers, only have two stores, and provide the scents others have missed. I will, however, suggest the reader to avoid DRH’s colognes as they are so mild that the scent only lasts a few minutes on the skin.
The main scent lineup:
- Arlington, citrusy and ferny
- Windsor, spicy and peppered with vetiver as well
- Eucalyptus, very Australian
- Marlborough, undergrowth and woods
These are flanked by several cologne, aftershave, shampoo, and EdT fragrances not used in other goods. The company also sells self-branded toilet goods like towels, cups, toothpaste, and retails shaving apparatuses from Dovo, Kent, Merkur, and such. Finally, Harris provides dispensing and medicine for all and sundry. Their webstore reaches those not fortunate enough to pop in to experience the century-old wood cabinets and family furniture.
March 21, 2015 by Ville Raivio
“Like Rome and Istanbul, Naples is a palimpsest, one era of humanity superimposed over another. Construction on the new subway station near the Castel Nuovo (the ‘New Castle’ – completed in 1282 A.D.) proceeds at fits and starts because workers keep discovering ruins of historical importance.
Retracing this history from the very beginning would mean visiting the Greek ruins at Cumae and Paestum – Naples (‘Nea polis’, ‘new city’ in Greek) began as a Greek settlement. But like the rest of the Italian peninsula, eventually it was subsumed into the Roman Empire, the LVMH of its time.”
– The David Isle
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio