I had the privilege of meeting the guys behind Swell attitude. If you don't already know, they are bringing some serious style to the Bay Area, making some of the finest tailored suits around. So check out what these guys had to say and then check out their website.
So I notice that Swell Attitude has a comprehensive approach to men's tailoring that takes into account a customer's lifestyle and general interest's. I think it's great! How did you guys develop this approach and Philosophy?
Jerry Folly-Kossi: One of our trademark sayings is that “we are all walking business cards” and our belief is that it is simply up to each one of us to decide what to put on that card and ensure that the message is coherent with the person that you are or wish to be. It took us a lot of time, trial and error to create our “Tell-us-almost-everything-about-yourself” questionnaire, a matrix that truly enables our fashion consultants to have a great understanding of the client taste and personality along with his social and professional environment. That information is then used as a guiding force for all our recommendations in garment cuts, details, fabric and colors.
Khan Kanga: It is a fact that we all come in different sizes and shapes. The value proposal of Swell Attitude is to take the game a step further than other quality clothiers: we provide our clients with tailored garments which not only fit them perfectly and flawlessly, but which strive to represent who they really are. Nobody wants to feel like a clone and this is precisely the reason why we offer them the chance to be elegant while showing to the world a glimpse of their persona. The choice of the color of a jacket lining, a button hole thread or a particular stitching can actually say a lot about you! We often say that Elegance lies in subtle details... Maybe this is what affordable Luxury is all about: customization.
Lets talk about your influences and inspirations. We want to know who in your personal lives has shaped your ideas about men's fashion? We also want to know who are some fashion icons or pop culture (past or present) figures that you think are important?
KK: As far as I can remember, I've always been passionate about clothing. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be the best dressed guy in my school! But it took me years and years (And sometimes epic sartorial fails!) to find my inner style. I am consistently inspired by everything around me: from movies to travels, from designer collections to people-watching, sitting at the terrace of a sidewalk cafe! As for the icons, I'm very nostalgic and I love Cinema, so I'd definitely say Sean Connery in his 7 James Bond movies (from 1962 to 1971 and one in 1983). He epitomizes the timeless and effortless elegance. Nowadays, I'm quite impressed by the looks of the actor Ryan Gosling. Fashion-forward, bold and always impeccable fit.
JFK: I was born in Paris to African parents then moved back and forth between France and Africa throughout my childhood. At 18 years old, I was sent to study in California and have never left since. There is no denying that my origins and uprooting play a significant role in the way I approach fashion, especially when it comes to color coordination. The African in me won’t shy away from colors in my wardrobe as long as they come with that flawless European cut. As for fashion icons, I don’t really have any that are revered, but there are definitely individuals whose work I respect. Oswald Boateng is one of them.
As sartorialists, would you consider your styles to be classic or more fashion forward?
KK: Our style finds its inspiration in the 60's with trim fitting suits & shirts and an emphasis on accessories. This era, which is particularly dear to us as it was the norm for every single man to dress and act like a gentleman, is definitely coming back to our utmost pleasure. We want our garment cuts to be timeless, but we definitely love to be playful with colors and patterns. That's the dandy side speaking!
In this day and age, fashion "trends" are born everyday, whether good or bad. What are some blunders that you notice in men's fashion?
JFK: First, I am of the mindset that a man should always wear a jacket/blazer/sport coat… That is the classic in me… And it is true that there are circumstances when it is not the most practical garment, but those are few and far between. Second, the pocket square seems to be making a come-back and that is a good thing.
KK: Yves Saint-Laurent said "Fashions fade, style is eternal". As a rule of thumb, I think that it's wise to pick few things here and there from what fashion trends have to offer and try to make it yours. However, when you go for the full seasonal window-shop look, you tend to look boyish, if not clownish! You guys have a great blog that has some amazing advice for men who are trying to fix up and look sharp.
Can you share one or two tips for the guys out there who are trying to gear up for the summer?
KK: When the sun comes, you want to be colorful! Isn't life better in technicolor? You also want to show some skin. Yes, even you, sir! I'm a great fan of Bermudas and even capri pants if you have the shape for it. Unstructured jackets, cotton linen or seersucker and 'sans socks' loafers are the way to go!
JFK- Keep it simple and fun. Go lighter in fabrics and shades. Maybe add some linen in general and try some pastel colors in pants. There are less garments and accessories to play with when the weather gets warmer but you can always fall back on the pocket square to save the day.