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.

Pediwear and Anatomy of Carlos Santos Shoes


October 23, 2019 by Ville Raivio

Carlos Santos is a Portuguese shoe factory that was founded in 1942. Santos himself began the gentle craft of shoemaking, aged 14, at Zarco, a factory he was able to buy for himself in 2002. The factory is in São João da Madeira, a town known in Portugal as Capital do Calçado, capital of shoes, as the area has a concentration of shoemaking similar to Northampton in England. After purchasing the premises, his name began to appear on the factory’s pairs. Still, at the beginning at Zarco, he helped out at accounting but was not pleased to work with papers. When there was time enough, the young Carlos slipped away from the offices to visit the packing area or the factory floor to gaze at shoes. It turned out that designing and making shoes was the thing.

Today the maker is specialised in Goodyear-welted men’s footwear as well as patinas developed in-house. Their less expensive pairs have Blake-stitched soles. For the latter, CS uses crust leathers which are dyed from scratch. Carlos Santos was not very well-known up until the 2010s, when the maker began to reach more retailers and was marketed better. CS previously concentrated on well-priced men’s shoes for other companies, made at the Santos factory in Portugal but marked with the names of others. The factory favours French and Italian calfskins for uppers, and the designs are classic but there’s also room for experimentation. CS pairs have leather insoles, full cork fillers, leather board heel stiffeners, celastic toe stiffeners in their regular lineup. Today Carlos Santos produces over 70 000 pairs of shoes each year, most of them private label work for client companies.

Today’s example pair comes courtesy of Pediwear’s own Edward&James lineup. The range is the culmination of the owners’ 40+ years in shoe business, and offers many models not available elsewhere. The Wyer model, a clean cap toe derby boot, sports the Braga patina developed by Santos — and it really is the highlight. I call the design clean as there are no exceptions from the lines of a classic cap toe boot, and the proportions of the pieces are swell. Coming to think of it, the plain design only highlights the patina better. The Braga colouring is dark brown at the tip of the toe, medium brown around stitching, and mottled, light brown elsewhere. It looks superb and interesting. Only time will tell how the colours age and how they stay in the leather, though.

As part of the Carlos Santos service, retailers can have their pairs made up how they like. In Pediwear’s case, the boots have rubber soles along with the patina, and the oddly named last Z333. The last has a regular round toe, but it has a beautiful sculpted shape that rounds downwards. The edges are shaped roundly as well, but it’s the heel that has the most aggressive shape. The fit of the last is eccentric: the width on the toe is narrow enough to demand half a size larger than what I usually wear, but there is volume elsewhere so the sock must be a thicker one. The shape of the boot is more on the casual than dressy side. The boots are part of Pediwear’s four new models launched this autumn.

The stitching is clean, the finish good, and I must also mention the pull tab. It’s the best one I’ve handled: it quickly returns to its upward shape, doesn’t have ugly logos, and feel smooth and firm. Too many factories overlook the humble pull tab! The speed hooks have been treated to look somewhat worn, and the boots arrive with a bright factory polish. The one thing I would change in this pair is the width of the welt, which is on the wider side. If it only were narrower, the front part of the boots wouldn’t look so heavy, and the 360-degree welt also makes the heel look wider. All in all, Carlos Santos is among my favourites in the + 300 euro price range. I hold this opinion after having tried other Santos shoes as well in store. The factory offers beautiful patinas, clean designs, and handsome lasts which combine to make their shoes look more expensive than they are.

An Interview with Maximilian Mogg


October 7, 2019 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

MM: I am 26 years old and I am founder of my own eponymous MTM atelier. We’re also working on offering bespoke in the near future.


VR: Your educational background?

MM: I started with business, before shifting my focus to brand management during by studies in the United States, Germany, and France.

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

None that know how to find me.


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?

MM: We have one golden rule in our family. If you’re doing something (whatever it is) with real passion, the whole family will support you. My father, in particular, always taught us that if you lack passion, you can never be at your best. You just won’t go the extra mile. So, from a very early age, they’ve always supported my choices. When it comes to clothing, I sometimes think that they maybe should have taken me aside and had a word with me. I recall a particular pair of very tight fire-engine-red jeans that left very little to the imagination. Although, ultimately, I think those experiences contributed to my very conservative dress nowadays.

The Mogg team, featuring shoemaker Kahlcke

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

MM: I was a high-level sabre fencer for years. I was in the Germany national team, actually. That was really my main focus in life for a long time and clothing was my hobby. That has obviously flipped over time. Other than that, I have a thing for ’80s music, I write about menswear and other topics, and I love drawing.


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?

MM: Fashion generally and the aesthetics associated with it, in particular, fascinated me from a very young age. I can’t really say what the actual trigger was, I simply cannot remember a day when appearance and the act of communication that takes place through clothing was not important to me. I feel that the aesthetics are ultimately secondary to the respect and politeness that a certain way of dressing conveys.

With regards to the second part of that question, the enthusiasm of my early teens for cyclical fashion quickly waned because I disliked the idea of feeling pressured to follow trends. So I did what anyone would probably do. I looked for alternatives and the rest, as they say, is history. I started with classic films, did some research, developed a love for classic English style. That led me to Savile Row, and to high-quality suits. These suits have managed to stand the test of time, give their wearers a means of expressing themselves non-verbally, of dressing sustainably (a high-quality suit can last you a lifetime), of showing erudition, and of covering up their physical flaws.

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?

MM: It all started with books. Reading, reading, reading. We actually have my whole library in the shop and we lend out books to customers if they want to read up on something. From there, I transitioned to writing. I went to Savile Row and interviewed any tailors that I could get my hands on for my blog. This brought me into contact with – in my eyes – some of the best-dressed men in the world. I like to think I learned from every single one of them.


VR: When did you decide to set up your own clothing company, and what goals did you set for yourself in the beginning?

MM: I suppose it all started, as so many things do, with a huge disappointment. My employer at the time called me into her office for a performance review and I still remember the exact phrase: ‘I just don’t believe that you possess an entrepreneurial spirit.’ That was a real slap in the face for me. However, I took that as an invitation to prove her wrong. I haven’t looked back since. My first goal was to make sure that I was making my own decisions, trusting myself, and doing what I love. Everything else has developed from there. When I made the decision to have my name on the products, it became clear to me that I would never compromise on quality.

VR: What’s your style or cut philosophy behind the clothing?

MM: It all starts with one basic assumption. For me, only classic suits, coats, and jackets can sculpt the wearer’s body, communicate formality in a highly-conventionalised way, and be practical at the same time. Our style and cut have to fulfill those three goals.


VR: I trust the “young foolish man” on your site’s story is you. If this is true, why did vintage clothing make such an impression on you?

MM: I can neither confirm nor deny your hypothesis regarding that foolish young man. I can only speak for myself. And, for me, vintage Savile Row suits struck me as being as near timeless in style as something can be and I love the idea of a piece being so well-made that you can pass it on to the next generation. That’s also where my slogan comes from: “My children should wear it, my grandchildren should be inspired by it.”

VR: How would you describe the “House Style” of Maximilian Mogg?

MM: Our house style (which we generally refer to as ‘Deco Drape’) has various inspirations. From the very beginning, Savile Row has fascinated me (It’s still surreal to me that we now regularly host our own trunk shows on the Row). A real game-changer for me was when I was lucky enough to work with Edward Sexton and with his creative director Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, both of whom are great style role models of mine, and purveyors of an incredibly elegant and masculine aesthetic. London and my experiences there were a valuable starting point for our aesthetic.

That being said, there is a secondary reason why British tailoring makes more sense for us. I think the average German/Central European physique is going to be closer to the British than to the average Italian physique, for example. British suits were designed around that physique and, as such, just serve that body type better. The same goes for fabrics. That is why we favour heavier English fabrics (330 g/m and upwards). They are generally more durable (I’ve used vintage fabrics that were thirty years old!), drape better, and fit the weather in Germany better.

Finally, the Art Déco period and its classic, masculine elegance is another major source of inspiration. This is most clearly reflected in the shape of our lapels and in our signature Zee Jerman shirt collar.

The idea behind our house style is to elongate the wearer’s silhouette and make them appear more athletic. The elongating effect is achieved through various means. We cut the armholes very high (and the sleeves relatively slim), have the overall fit through the body  slim but never tight (there should never be any signs of pulling), and cut the back as narrow as possible without restricting movement. This creates an hourglass shape through the body. Then, we give our wide-legged trousers a very high rise, and make sure our jackets are long enough to cover the fork of the trousers. This creates a sort of optical illusion, whereby it looks like the legs never end.

To give the wearer a more athletic look, we cut our roped shoulders a little wider than the natural shoulder line and the chest a bit fuller. Our wide and full-bellied lapels put further emphasis on that broad chest.

The final touch is the button stance, which is relatively low (around the natural waist) and accentuates the narrowest point of the wearer’s body. This is key to making the contrasting elements work together.

VR: Who or what inspires you?

MM: People who are following their dreams.


VR: What’s your definition of style?

MM: Authenticity.

Featuring drawings by M.M.

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