March 24, 2013 by Ville Raivio
“Age 45, occupation: Creative Director of Dashing Tweeds and a photographer. Westminster School in London and then a Biology Degree at Bristol University. After university I worked as an apprentice photographer and for a silversmith before going freelance. Three children who often get dressed up in tweed especially when riding our 4 seat bicycle around. I have always loved clothes since my early teens and started making things at a young age. My grandmother taught me to crochet and my step mother had a dress shop in which I used to help sew hems.
I started sewing myself various outfits and had a great interest in textiles and craft from an early age. I really discovered the whole history of menswear at university when we started dressing for balls and other formal occasions, it was then that I realised that there was much more to menswear than was obvious from the high street. Formal wear preserved the smart clothing from previous generations but I soon discovered that the casual and sports wear from previous generations was actually much more exciting than what was around in the 1980’s at the time. It was the discovery of the fun men had dressing rather than so called classic dress that inspired me.
I consider Dashing Tweeds to be a modern extension of classic sportswear rather than in anyway retro heritage. In fact we are keen to be all about the modern man with a fusion of technical yarns and sustainable wool rather than in any way vintage. Also I feel it is important not to build a division and create a classic / fashion paradigm. People assume that because certain elements of formal menswear persist for generations that they are not subject to the forces of fashion, this is just not true, the changes may be hard to detect to the uneducated eye but fashion constantly sways the width of trousers the shapes of lapels the lengths of jackets and the types of cloth used. Obviously these changes can be huge at the high fashion level but they do occur constantly through all aspects of clothing. With this in mind we feel that we are constantly working at the highest level of fashion.
We are living in very poor times where variety of cloth is concerned and most men are ignorant of the choices available. This is due to the predominance of the high street and ready to wear now a days. Only a few decades ago when men went to tailors as a matter of course, magazines would educate men as they the best choice of cloth for their garments. The choice used to be huge and as supply depends on demand, the lack of knowledge has caused a decline cloth varieties. It is important to re-educate a new generation and this will lead to an increase in all cloth types and ultimately a great range of more exciting fashion for men.
I was very lucky to be asked as a photographer to be the image maker for Savile Row Bespoke. The major tailors of Savile Row formed this marketing cooperative in order to expand the famous name of Savile Row and claim its rightful position as the mecca for menswear in the digital arena. My job gave me access to all the archives in the dusty basements of the famous houses and it was here I began to understand the plethora of cloths and clothing styles that have existed. As Dashing Tweeds has expanded Kirsty and I have also been to visit many mills around the country and most of these have fabulous archives which are now being treated with the care they deserve.
I mainly dress to amuse both myself and others. I love the idea that historically there is a dress for every occasion and hobby, this is a continuous flow as technology progresses mankind. Outfits for dancing to fluorescent lit rooms of trance and house music differ greatly to ones for the tango or waltz. However for other occasions the variety of dress has declined now a days and jeans, the work wear of cowboys and gold diggers seem to have entered into far too many arenas. I like to find clothes specific to every occasion and try to change accordingly as often as possible, sometimes up to five times a day.
I may dress in the morning in a colourful reflective tweed cycle suit to take the children to school on our special 4 seat bike, then come back to change for a meeting in Savile Row in a suit appropriate to London’s West End, perhaps a worsted check suit worn with a tie or cravat. After lunch I often have some messier design or photography work to do and will dress in a knock about tweed suit perhaps in a tough Harris tweed. If friends are coming for tea or cocktails I will change into a new shirt and a colourful jacket in one of our art deco or Bauhaus inspired designs. Then often out to evening events or dinner and depending on the occasion a suitable outfit is required, people are honoured if you dress up for them I it’s much worse to be underdressed than over dressed.
Dashing Tweeds can cater for many of these occasions from a knock about tweed suit, cycle suits and something exciting for the evening. We are expanding our ready to wear and will be introducing the most exciting sports couture that people have seen for many years. We work with many of the tailors on Savile Row and I have a suit from at least half a dozen of them. When one understands the subtleties of the various cuts from each house one can adapt the design of the suit accordingly, it’s very hard to choose a favourite. We also work with many other tailors around the world, it’s important to choose a properly bespoke tailor where a pattern is cut specifically for you and the cutter who measures you also works on the pattern and cloth rather then passing on a set of measurements to someone else who has not seen your deportment.
We are only just getting started with plans for a stand alone shop. Our online store is doing very well and we are happy to invite people to the showroom in my house to see cloth and ready to wear. People can also find our cloth in various tailors. We aim to open a flagship store next year in the centre of London full of all our exciting cloth designs and ready to wear collections. I love hobbies and often get slightly obsessed with them. At the moment I have started gymnastics and am learning to do backflips, I started ukulele lessons two years ago and am keen on song writing. I designed the Hanky Hat last year and wrote a song about it with Guy Chambers which you can buy on itunes, I started a band called the Dashing Tweeds. I went rock climbing in the Alps last summer and intend to carry on practicing on a local climbing wall.
Cycling is also a great hobby and I have recently mastered my unicycle, I enjoy croquet, tennis and fencing. I fence foil and epee at the Lansdowne Club in London, I’m also very keen on wild swimming and dancing. My wife and I had such fun learning the waltz and quickstep as well as Lindy Hop. I really enjoy cooking especially with wild animals, my biology degree comes in handy when skinning or gutting them. We keep a rowing boat at the bottom of our garden in London; dressing up as a sailor and rowing though town on the Regents Canal is great fun. In the winter I crochet all my children hats, it can become very addictive. A few years ago I became very keen on power kites and welded together a chariot on which I was pulled at great speed along the beaches of Norfolk. I also love making things, I used to be an apprentice to a silver smith and have a jewellery work bench on which I make silver cuff links and presents for friends. Archery is a new hobby, I have just acquired a recurve bow and I find the stillness and concentration required very calming and akin to yoga which I also enjoy.
Dressing in more structured clothes gives one an empowered feeling and it’s also a pleasure to feel well dressed. Buying well made vintage clothes enables one to experience this joy cheaply but there is nothing worse than badly fitting tailored clothes which can restrict movement and prove very uncomfortable. It is important to have anything, either old or new, which does not fit altered. This does not cost much and one soon comes to realise how comfortable proper fitting clothes are. I often find it amusing how the high street deliberately market clothes that do not fit by encouraging trends for trousers which fall down or are too tight or are ‘anti fit’. Finally the most important thing is to find a personal style of individuality and elegance.”
Pictures: © Dashing Tweeds