June 1, 2013 by Ville Raivio
‘Wisdom really does come with age and you have to be wise to know all the rules, history and nuances of men’s fashion. My occupation was Occupational Safety and Fire Protection Engineer. But I always had my work done my Wednesday noon so I could go out shopping! I received two BA degrees from Kansas State University – one on sociology and the other in journalism. Plus a Certificate in Fire Protection Engineering. I have a great wife, who I met at Kansas State University and is very supportive of everything I do. Parents have both passed away, but I hope my father (see later answers) would have been proud of me. My father was in oil exploration in the Midwest USA and Canada and dressed in work khakis, but always dressed up for dinner and church. He was very interested in fashion and we took Esquire magazine, when it was a bit risqué, just for the men’s fashion.
[My knowledge comes] from my father, from magazines and some books.I’m very conservative and try to follow the “rules”! I have many advertisers on AskAndyAboutClothes.com that have made me clothing but if I were to pick some it would be MyTailor.com, Caruso, Hiras Tailor, itailor.com, LS Men’s Clothing, Custom Men, Imparali. I started writing my book, The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes. One of my longtime friends, Bob McConnell, (a tennis and golf buddy) worked for IBM, and I approached him about doing a website. Bob said, “Sure, it’s easy!” And we went out and bought some Front Page software. The next few weeks were a real learning experience for a non-tech person (me!). But Bob worked with me and got me through setting up some pages. On either August 22, 2001 or November 2, 2001 (can’t quite pin it down!) we were “on the air” and it looked great. I kept adding to the site, and a week later I had received a total of 14 hits! Most of those were me looking at the site.
For some reason (maybe a real need for this kind of information), in a few weeks we started getting noticed. In a couple of months Google had found us. I completed The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes, had it reproduced on a CD-Rom and sold the first one on March 27, 2002. Then I talked Bob into putting up a Forum. He was a little hesitant. I’m not sure he was too enthused, and it was a lot of technical work. Plus I don’t think that he saw any value in a site on men’s fashions. The Forum went up on or before August 24th, 2002, and the hits started increasing. The big break came with a story about the site and Forum in The New York Times, September 29, 2004, and the hits shot up to 160,000. They dropped a few days later, but leveled off and then began to climb to 250,000 hits a day! The May 2006 issue of Playboy Magazine recommended this site and most recently we’re getting over 1,300,000 hits a day. Currently the site is averaging over 646,239 unique visitors, and 1,803,388 page views a month, and the Forum registered membership is over 65,000! And it’s growing! We’ve revised the site and are constantly upgrading the server to handle all the new traffic!
Our next AskAndy Event is in London, Sept. 26 and it will be followed by some in Europe including several in Spain. I’ve had the opportunity to write an article for Esquire Magazine and to appear on the Wealth TV Program “What to Wear”, plus I’m constantly quoted in all the major media outlets (including yours!) And I was privileged to write part of the JC Penney men’s sales associate training manual. Look for a collaboration project with Playboy Magazine soon, but I told them I must keep my clothes on! I’m unique in that the website offers lots of free articles full of advice including the Forum. My book, The Encyclopedia Of Men’s Clothes, is all advice it’s not trying to sell a specific brand of clothes like most sites. [I’m inspired by] just being alive and open to all the wonderful opportunities there are out there. I don’t really believe in planning, but just being open and letting fantastic things come into my life. Style is creating your own personal image within the boundaries and rules that apply to men’s clothes and considering the appropriateness in respect to your fellow humans and institutions.
I play golf, love to travel, have been on many wine tasting tours, enjoy exploring single malt Scotch, Classic movies and any old British TV series that happens to be on, and dining in some of the greatest restaurants in the world has been a privilege. I fear that we’re loosing the battle of dressing appropriately out of respect for each other and our institutions, but I hope that AskAndyAboutClothes.com will be a beacon of knowledge and inspiration for those who don’t know the rules and realize that their image is very important in success in life. Just buy a copy of the downloadable PDF, The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes (it’s less that you spent for lunch today) and you’ll have more knowledge which you can instantly reference, than anyone!’
Picture: © MRKet