Interview with Tomasz Miler from Miler Spirits and Style

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January 1, 2016 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
TM: I am 31. I own SpiritsAndStyle,­ a company of 30 people that is focused on bespoke and RTW-clothes as well as selling whisky and large tasting events. We do all of that in any order you like :) We have a beautiful shop in Poznań and we also sell online at ShopMiler. I also have three blogs that in Poland attract approximately 250.000 unique users monthly and just now I’ve started a blog in English at TomMiler. 
So, in few words, I sport a nice suit to tell people how to drink whisky, and then I put it all online to sell it with the help of my team.

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VR: Your educational background?
TM: Master’s Degree in biotechnology (molecular diagnostics — I know, it’s weird), post­graduate studies in conference interpreting and a post­graduate course in business communication.

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

TM: I have been happily married to the beautiful Olga for over a year now. We have no children yet. Since we own a tailoring workshop we have easy access to tailors. The only problem involving my wife and tailoring I ever encounter is her being able to convince the staff to finish her blazer before my winter coat because “it’s not so cold yet so how could he mind that?” I guess this describes her attitude towards tailoring quite descriptively.

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VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
TM: Real men wear suits. My father wears one as well. I don’t see any reason why this should cause any special reaction. But before the “tailoring era” I used to pump iron a lot. My friends from the gym were looking weird at me when I came there wearing a tie or a suit. But when you start lifting heavy iron people stop laughing :)

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VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides classic apparel?
TM: I obviously live the two of my biggest passions: whisky and clothes or clothes and whisky (or even both at the same time ;) Other than that I like to travel with my wife (my fav destinations are Scotland and the US, and hers is Italy), I fell in love with sailing this year and I am thinking of getting a yachtsman’s certificate, I’ve trained in kickboxing and BJJ for a couple of years, I did a few half ­marathons and even a marathon, and obviously I am addicted to books. I also truly like to speak English. Oh yes, and I smoke cigars.

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VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?
TM: I always feel that my story is not very poetic. When I worked out at the gym my shirt collar size was 47 cm and I had no belly. This meant that I couldn’t really buy anything in a RTW shop. It wouldn’t matter a lot to me at that time, but when I started to work as an interpreter (I mainly did simultaneous) I had to attend numerous conferences and business meetings where sporting a suit was obligatory. My teacher, Witold Skowroński, who worked for people like George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II and Lech Wałęsa truly inspired me with the bespoke clothes he was wearing, but more importantly he did something that few men would have ever done:­ he gave me the phone number of his tailor. Of course at that time it was a considerable expense for me, but look where it got me! And they say that clothes don’t make the man ;)

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And when it comes to fashion, well, I haven’t really thought about it. There is some degree of fashion in classic elegance. The lapels are getting wider, braces are becoming more popular, the three-piece is coming back, the DB already is back. So there is some fashion in it. I don’t really care so much about clothes as you may think. I appreciate a guy who’s tattooed head to toes sporting a cool pair of sneakers properly matched with nice streetwear more than yet again another wanna­be dandy checking hundreds of times per hour if his tie hangs down properly and whether his pocket square attracts enough attention. It’s the person inside the clothes that counts.

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

TM: I would say that for me this process developed in two stages. Stage one was when I read a lot to understand different nuances of tailoring and I also started my bespoke adventure in real life. The suits I would get were not quite like the ones I saw in my books and on the Internet so I started to negotiate with tailors on a lot of modifications. Some of them were successful and some were not (to say the least). I do have some truly unacceptable suits in my wardrobe but being persistent finally got me to the place where I know what I like. I quickly understood that your clothes should stem from two things: your body type and your personality. If you manage to match these two, you are good to go.

I thought I was advanced already but yet the second stage of understanding clothes came to me when I opened my tailoring workshop. I suddenly had to gain the ability to work on various body types and understand the very different needs of my customers. This made me really humble. Every day I learn something new about both clothes and people.

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VR: When did you decide to set up your own tailoring store, and what goals did you set for yourself in the beginning?
TM: 
To be honest with you, I had no master plan. Sometimes I was working as someone you could call a “bespoke assistant” through my Polish blog. Unfortunately, very soon I realised that when I work with tailors I am not superior in terms of working relations, they opt for solutions that in their opinion are more suitable, so I cannot fully implement what I envision. At the same time I was gaining on popularity in Poland as an expert on elegant style. I had more and more people asking me about suits and I thought I would try to employ a tailor. It was hard and we had to spend countless hours on discussing details of our work, but now we have a lot of orders and our tailoring team already consists of five people.

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VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your own clothing?
TM: Yes, my jackets need to be able to hold at least two bottles of malt whisky in their pockets. Just kidding! I already mentioned that I feel clothes should match your body type and personality. It is clear to me that when I look into the mirror, I don’t see a slim model with a six pack. I am rather short (175cm), have massive arms, got some belly too. I am no good for extremely tight jackets and narrow pants. It would be cool if I could wear them, as it is much, much easier to gain attention on social media when you wear clothes people recognise and like. But this doesn’t work for me so I had to find a different way and I try to surprise my followers with what I do. I also try to sprinkle it all with what I like in real life; a cigar here, a dram of whisky there and a lot of Harris Tweed. That’s it! Oh, and I have to say that I am crazy about vintage British fabrics and I am lucky to have dozens of metres in my private stock.

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VR: Who or what inspires you?
TM: Some parts of my mind are academic. I like solid knowledge behind what I do. For instance, I read a lot about the theory of colours and I think that it is starting to work for me. I am also inspired by tradition and certain messages encrypted in clothes:­ a power suit at a business meeting, country clothes when on holidays, morning dress for weddings, tux at the opera. I like that. It would also be a lie if I said I don’t like classic Hollywood stars like Cary Grant, Fred Astaire or Clark Gable. And of course I keep my eyes open on social media. I also go to Pitti Uomo but I do it mainly to meet friends and business partners.

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VR: What’s your definition of style?
TM: I think I can go along with the style definition of Hardy Amies whose witty writing I adore:
“A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.” I know it’s a bit of a cliché when you quote this again, but that’s just so true. If the clothes make you look like you think about them, for whatever reason, you don’t look good.

VR: Finally, during the last few years, I have noticed many style bloggers, companies and even a bespoke social club setting up new ventures in Poland. Could you perhaps explain why classic clothing interests so many Polish men?
TM: Well, I don’t know about so many, but indeed you could name a few that count. Of course there is also the BWB Bespoke Social Club that is one of the ventures that started it all in Poland. I am proud to be a founding member of this organisation. I have now changed my status from an “individual member” to a “supporting company” and I hope it will keep developing like it did over the last years.

I think that the reason why so many Poles are interested in style is very simple. For nearly 50 years the communist regime was depriving us of the possibility to express ourselves. In 1989, it was overthrown and we suddenly regained access to the western culture we used to be part of. After the initial period of getting it all wrong, we are already done with Adidas tracksuits and huge Versace logos across our chests. A lot of Polish men start to think whether they want their tie a garza grossa or garza fina grenadine or maybe shantung. And Poland is a very nice country too. Our big cities are very European and, having been a EU Member State for over ten years, now we no longer feel like we need to imitate only. We can create as well.

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www.SpiritsAndStyle.com


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