September 14, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
SJ: I’m 23, and I do a lot of things. Among others, I study, do freelance web design, and, well, write a blog about menswear.
VR: Your educational background?
SJ: I’m a medical student.
VR: Have you any children or girlfriend (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
SJ: My girlfriend is an amazing and incredibly supportive person. She often seems to have way more faith in what I’m doing than I. Though she sometimes gets a bit bored with me talking about a brilliant suit I saw somewhere, or a watch I might want to buy at some point, I can’t blame her – I tend to get a bit fixated on some things. Overall, though, she is very understanding of my hobby, and seems to enjoy having a well-dressed guy around.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
SJ: My mum viewed this as a nice, but ultimately rather unimportant thing. “It’s fine if you want to look good, but you should really concentrate on more serious subjects” was the feeling I was getting from her. But as she saw how I am able to balance all things nicely, she was convinced that this is as valid a hobby as any. My dad was always enjoying the fact that I’m doing something I like.
My younger brother is into completely different style – more fashion-forward, less classic and formal. But we find common ground.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
SJ: Medicine and science, obviously. I am passionate about learning how the world around me works, how the human body works. I hope to one day specialize in neurology, and the brain is an astoundingly complex thing that we’ve just begun to unravel – but what is known thus far is fascinating.
I also love music, I find it difficult to function without it. My first serious musical love was Scandinavian jazz, but my tastes grew more eclectic, and I don’t limit myself to one genre. I play a bit of piano and bass guitar, though lately I find myself lacking time to devote to them.
Also, coffee. Though this might be less of a passion, and more of a physical dependence.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?
SJ: I don’t actually know what was my first impulse for getting interested in this stuff. It started in high school, though, when I bought my first jacket – a black one, of course, because I didn’t know any better. I tried to follow my gut feeling about what was “classy” – but with no real knowledge about these things. When I started med school, I decided it’s time to learn some more about dressing myself like an adult, and I gradually improved in many areas: fit, colours and patterns, the classics.
There’s a reason “classic” and “classy” sound so similar – and I was never really drawn to the flashy world of the newest fashion trends. I also noticed that a nice jacket and a shirt just make me look better – they add some seriousness as well as giving me a bit more confidence. I’m an exact opposite of an extrovert, but going out in white or pink trousers – a sight not very common in Poland – is not a problem for me; it gives me a nice boost to how I feel about myself.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of clothing — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
SJ: The Internet, mostly. I started with Polish blogs, like MrVintage, and Macaroni Tomato. The latter was about bespoke tailoring, but the author had a really good, subtle but modern taste I really, really liked. Now he has moved on to open a boutique in Warsaw and the blog is no longer updated, but I learned a lot from it – about fit, mostly, as well as general stuff about classic menswear.
I then broadened my scope of interest to include less strictly classic stuff, I started reading blogs in English. Forums have become a nice source of information, though I rarely post – I’m rather a lurker.
I still learn – my journey has by no means ended. I can spend hours reading various articles on a subject that caught my attention, or forum threads, and it’s always enlightening.
VR: When was your site founded and what goals did you have in mind back then? How has the site been received?
SJ: I started my blog in December 2012. I didn’t really have many friends who shared my enthusiasm for nice clothes – and I was learning a lot that I wanted to share. My friends would get bored with me talking about the subject they were not really interested in, so I decided to give them a break, and started a blog.
It was not very good in the beginning, though there were people reading it, for reasons I haven’t yet understood. But over time I got better – both with my writing and with my style – so now it’s way better than it used to be. Not that I’m really satisfied with it – I never really am with stuff I do – but I do get nice comments, and the traffic keeps increasing, which probably means I’m doing something right. Or at least not terribly wrong.
VR: How would you describe your own dress? Which RTW makers or tailors do you favour?
SJ: Currently I’m in a transitional period, during which I try to swap cheaper and lower-quality stuff I bought when I wanted to have some basic items quickly, as well as to experiment, with better-quality garments. It takes time, sure, and money, but I like the direction I’m going.
I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten more subtle with colours and patterns recently. I prefer interesting textures – though a windowpane flannel suit is still on my mind.
Some things remain unchanged, though – I try to stick to classics rather than fashion-forward variations of them, but I don’t limit myself only to things you can find in old Apparel Arts illustrations. I like those detours from the well-established classic route – bracelets, denim, mixing more and less formal things – they give me some comfort, help me claim this style as my own.
There’s one tailor here in Kraków who does all the alterations for me, but can also make a bespoke garment for an affordable price – I’ve recently gotten my first bespoke suit from him. I like it a lot, and I hope to eventually get myself more – in less formal, seasonal fabrics – but it’ll take time.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
SJ: I don’t have one style icon or guru – I look around, I browse the Internet, I try to pick up stuff I like and implement them in my style.
I think that in the everlasting battle of Italian vs. British style, I’m on the side of the Mediterraneans. I really like how they wear their clothes – beautiful and colourful – as if it were nothing; how they can play with the rules and break them in a way that looks effortless and great. I find softer tailoring – less structure, lining, and so on – more comfortable.
I will never be able to replicate it, of course – I don’t really look Italian anyway, pale and skinny as I am, but that’s beside the point. I don’t aim at replicating any one particular style, I like to build my own from inspirational bits and pieces found all over the place, and integrate them into something that is one whole.
VR: What is your definition of style?
SJ: Style is one’s own and individual – what makes one feel comfortable and look good in their own eyes. If the clothes are chosen deliberately, but once selected, one can forget what they’re currently wearing – that’s their style.
VR: Finally, how would you describe the style of Polish men and business men in general?
SJ: Polish men still have problems with the basics – getting the size and fit right. Suits a size or two too large are a common sight, black is the dominating colour. And the shoes, my God, the shoes!
But it’s gotten better recently, and the improvement will not stop here, I believe. Many young people actually care about what they wear and try their best to look good. Some of them are into a more classic style, and they very often get it right – which is a great sight. That makes me optimistic about the future of Polish menswear.
Photos: Studencka Elegancja