An Interview with Tailor Alan Cannon Jones


January 5, 2020 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
ACJ: Age 72 years. Occupation: Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London. My career has been as a tailor and a teacher, now I work part time.

VR: Your educational background?
ACJ: Secondary School to age 15. At age 15, I started a 5-year apprenticeship as a tailor attending the London College of Fashion part time whilst also working, and gained City & Guilds qualifications. Later in mid career, in 1985, I studied part time to gain a PG-Certificate in Education so I could start to teach tailoring. In 1995, I enrolled on a Master’s course, part time, to take an MSc in Technology Management, graduating in 1997. This enabled me to progress to teaching at Master’s level and to supervise Ph.D. students.


VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
ACJ: Married 48 years, with three children who are a Mountaineer, a Teacher and  a Garment Technologist. So my youngest has followed into fashion in a technology role.


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you told them of your job goals?
ACJ: Always supportive and encouraging.


VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
ACJ: Outdoor walking, Canal boating, theatre and music. Frequent concert attender, especially jazz, blues and rock music.


VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards more classic pieces? Why these instead of fast fashion?
ACJ: After I started my apprenticeship at age 16, I went into tailoring as a career to learn skills and my interest in style developed from that. I was aged 13 in 1960, so those formative years were through the 1960s for all my teenage years. The ’60s was an amazing period for both music and fashion.

At Chester Barrie‘s

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring — from books, in-house apprenticeship or somewhere else?
ACJ: Through my apprenticeship, followed with reading books and magazines, talking with people and listening and learning from my masters (Master Tailors).


VR: You worked for Chester Barrie back in the days, first as a cutter. What was CB’s cut like?
ACJ: The CB cut was a mixture of American and Swedish. The company originally started in New York, then opened a factory in Crewe, England. The original cutting was American and then in the 1950s they took on a Swedish Designer who was technically trained, and he developed the classic cut and style. I worked alongside him for a year which was memorable. He was a very talented man and a good teacher.

The cutter-to-be

VR: How was Chester Barrie different from others, and why was it so influential?
ACJ: First of all, QUALITY. The quality of C.B. suits was at the same level as Bepoke Tailoring at Savile Row. The suits were partly hand made (sewn) but in a very engineered method ensuring consistent quality. Several Savile Row tailors stocked C.B. suits as a ready to wear option if customers required that service.  They led the world at that level, a comparison today would be Brioni, Cifonelli.  They were ahead of Hickey Freeman and Oxxford Clothes in those days.


VR: Your path led to the London College of Fashion after CB. How did you come to join the college and what was your position in its ranks?
ACJ: The industry started to go off shore and the Ackerman family decided to sell C.B. to a retail consortium, so I looked for a career move. I was speaking at an industry conference on tailoring and afterwards was approached by the Principal of the London College of Fashion, and asked to join them to lead and develop both Menswear and Tailoring at the college. I started as a Senior Lecturer rising later to Principal Lecturer and Director for Menswear and Bespoke Tailoring.


VR: How did you feel about the changes in men’s tailoring in the ’60s?
ACJ: The 1960s were very much about the Mod era with Tonik suits. Carnaby Street and the Kings Road in London revolutionised young fashion by breaking all the rules. People like Mary Quant, Mr Fish, Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton really changed fashion whilst challenging it, and they kept a quality to their work.


VR: Do we have it better style-wise now than before? How do you view the future?
ACJ: Yes, we have much better insight into style and fashion than before from magazine, blogs and the Internet generally. It has to be said, though, that while it is there, it’s the people who have to choose to follow it. We see many fashion conscious people wearing style and quality, and others buying the cheapest on the high street. It has to be a choice. Currently there is a strong interest in good tailoring and it is affordable for the discerning customer. The future is good, simply because people have to wear clothes and want to be individual.

VR: Who or what inspires you?
ACJ: Always good tailoring, looking back to inspiring designers/tailors such as Hardy Amies. I respect Paul Smith for what he has done for fashion and the Antwerp Six. I currently follow the work of Joe Morgan on Savile Row and Boglioli, Cifonelli. Recent revivals have also been Tiger of Sweden. Many good Italian labels, such as Pal Zileri, Canali, Caruso. The current Caruso range is really strong. I also respect others such as John Smedley knitwear, Sunspel underwear and casual wear, plus Levi’s, Desiel et al. For shirts, I go for Thomas Pink and Paul Smith.


VR: What’s your definition of style?
ACJ: Classic quality which looks good and does not date. Details that are classic. My idea is that you can be wearing a garment for ten years and still get positive comments when wearing it. It is important to have a range of clothing and wear a different garment each day to let them relax. Don’t wear the same jacket and trouser on a number or repeat days. Even if you only have a few changes, keep changing them.

A Tour at the John Lobb St. James’s Workshop


January 5, 2020 by Ville Raivio

An Interview with Tai Nguyen


November 16, 2019 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
TN: I am 29, been doing different things but right now working in the financial industry.

VR: Your educational background?
TN: I am a graduate of the Aalto University business school in Helsinki.

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style obsession)?
TN: No children as of yet, I have a spouse and she has been very understanding towards my obsession. We’ve been together for some time and she has observed my journey in this hobby with great tolerance.

VR: …how about your parents’ and siblings’ reactions when your style interest began?
TN: I don’t think that they are surprised by my interest in style, but rather the change in it as I have developed throughout the years since I left my home country. Since the time I was a kid, I have always been interested in style overall. Of course it was not the style that I have right now, but I remember always wanting to wear “uncommon” clothes, such as an odd vest or interesting shirts, when I was little. Many bad choices, but still something different.

I sometimes consider it a perk of living in Helsinki (maybe?), but no one really makes a fuss about your hobby and, in my case, what I wear everyday. I sometimes get compliments and questions regarding how I dress. I find out that simple reaction such as “Oh thank you” and “It’s one of my hobbies” work very well here. Over time you and people around you get used to it.

VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
TN: I loved electric guitars (in a geeky way) since the time I was in high-school and university. Always been a mediocre player though, but I love everything that goes into the make and the nuances of all those things. Still have a Fender Telecaster and a small tube Marshall amp at home and take them out for a spin from time to time.

VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards the tailored look?
TN: As said, since I was a kid I have always wanted to wear “interesting” (not necessarily stylish…) stuff. My personal style might be vastly different at different phases of my life though: so from black rock-band-t-shirts to slim-preppy-red-chinos. I guess I have always been interested in expressing a little bit of myself through clothes. Around the time I got out of university, I saw a really cool video series from Putthison. I did some more research for a while, then classic menswear and tailoring got me hooked.

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of clothing — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
TN: Books and mostly the internet when I started, when Tumblr, written blogs and forums were still relevant and Instagram was not popular. I remember borrowing “Dressing the man” from the city library and felt sufficiently snobbish about it… But I humbly think that the most effective method of learning is from really trying (and failing) different things to see the differences in fit, in quality, and in style.

VR: How would you describe your style?
TN: Tough question since my style has gone through changes all the time; and the changes are getting more subtle but there still are some. I would say I am heavily influenced by the soft tailoring realms (maybe Southern Italy, but I love my Ring Jackets and can’t call them Southern Italian though) but with more subtle color palettes that recently lean more towards earth tones. One thing I’ve done lately is to keep my jackets’ silhouette a bit more classic but experiment more with different trouser cuts.

VR: Do you have a particular style or philosophy of cut behind your commissions?
TN: The more expensive the item I commission, the more subtle and “boring” (i.e. not loud and crazy) they are.

VR: Who or what inspires you?
TN: I am intrigued by the people who can take classic menswear items and give them a fresh spin and attitude but still retain the craftsmanship value. Even though they sometimes are not necessarily things I would try, I get huge inspiration from such people. Examples from recent memory are Saman Amel, S.E.H. Kelly, or Drake’s. And then there are the people who do not work in the menswear industry that have the best pieces of tailoring but wear them so discretely and simply that you can only notice if you are a nerd in classic menswear – I also take inspiration from them.

VR: What’s your definition of style?
TN: It’s already a cliché to say that style should be personal, comfortable, yet deliberate (important I think); but to me it’s still true. If someone can take the things they wear in their everyday life (taking partly into consideration social contexts) and infuse some of their intentional and conscious choices (put in thoughts and ideas on what make you look good to you) that make their outfits personal and interesting, then it’s a good thing. Not just tailored clothing or classic menswear, but with any different genres of styles.

VR: Finally, you decided to move to Finland some years ago. What was the motivation, and how would you describe the tailored styles of Finland compared to Vietnam?
TN: I moved here a long time ago, to pursue my studies. I think there is a similarity in which both Vietnam and Finland do not have our own tailoring styles, you can’t pinpoint what makes a Finnish tailored style or Vietnamese jacket cuts. To my eyes, the classic tailoring from Vietnam was influenced by the French in the past (think padded shoulders, closed quarters), then more recently the Korean pop culture swept away the youth’s dressing culture (short and tight-fitting jackets, shiny fabric).

There used to be less varieties there in terms of tailored styles, only maybe recently there are more Italian-style tailoring – it’s like a trend after all. In Finland, the people I’ve met who are interested in tailored / classic menswear styles are quite open, yet many tend to prefer southern-Italian-styled cuts (soft and close shoulders, slimmer fit) – I think we could do with a bit more variety ;-)

Unethical Working Conditions in the Italian Tanning Business


November 11, 2019 by Ville Raivio

An Interview with Matthew Ruiz from LuxeSwap


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.

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