It was actually a couple of years back, through Jamie Ferguson of JKF photo’s fame that I was introduced to Aleks Cvetkovic, who at the time was Editor of therakeonline.com, and in the following conversation, it was interesting how we ended up speaking about Jamie again. I was already aware of Aleks and who he was through his sterling stewardship of The Rake Magazines online content, and from seeing him on the circuit of menswear events in London like London Collections Men, and in Florence during Pitti Uomo, at the tailoring symposium hosted by Simon Crompton of permanentstyle.com. Aleks, always immaculately dressed with a distinctive personal style – also as we got to know each other a little bit, turned out to be a really good bloke as well. Now Deputy Editor at The Jackal Magazine, Aleks very kindly took some time to sit down for coffee and discuss his background and the development of his personal style and tastes.
The Conversation took place just a week or so before Christmas at Henry Wood House in the West End of London where The Jackal Magazine headquarters are located.

KO:

Where are you from originally, Aleks?

A:

The name is Serbian. My grandparents came over in 1943 as so many Yugoslavs did, fleeing World War Two. My Grandma and Grandad ended up being settled in Leicester, and my dad was born in Leicester. I was born in a town called Harpenden.

KO:

And you studied at Oxford?

A:

I did, and it was great fun – didn’t work hard enough. I did okay; but it was great. Its interesting though, that you ask me where I’m from because a lot of readers and people I connect with on social clock that I’m not English, and I have to say ‘I know that the name doesn’t sound it, but there is a reason I have that name and there’s another reason why I sound like this’.

KO:

But that seems to be the way of the world these days, doesn’t it? My daughter’s name is Odessa, which is a great name; suits her, but she’s brought up in London with a Scottish background.

So, when you were young, presumably you weren’t going out getting tailor-made garments and bespoke shirts. When did it start?

A:

I got in to clothes quite young, though; It’s quite a convoluted story so forgive me. It comes from a love of Jazz music, originally. One of my earliest memories is listening to my dad’s Hi-Fi – he’s a big vinyl lover, which is a love I’ve inherited as well. I remember as a child, barely being able to stand, it must be a very early memory, and listening to Dean Martin sing ‘aint that a kick in the head?’ on vinyl, so I have a very long love of old easy listening and jazz.

When I was 13, my folks took me to see the show that’s on at the moment, the Rat Pack live. One of the famous concerts that they re-create. it didn’t matter that it wasn’t the real thing, I was completely and utterly hooked, and I’d also just got in to youth theatre at that point. To watch these three famous performers, or, you know, representations of them have such a blast on the stage with a great big band, backing singers; it just really stuck with me. The thing I loved as well was how slick the performances were but also just how sharp they looked up there on stage. There was a real sense of put-togetherness that I really identified with. Through that, and this is weird, I’ve not thought of this before, but my first ever part in a youth production was as a journalist, from the 1930s. I bought, for the part (because it gave me the excuse) a black and white thick chalk stripe double breasted demob suit. It was a very big, boxy jacket with claret viscose lining and really thick stripes. I was 13 and that was my first suit, and I loved it so much I found any excuse I could to wear it.

That started a love of clothing. In 6th form of course, we got to wear suits every day and I remember queuing outside Next at 5am on a boxing day, this must have been about eight years ago. They used to do Alfred Brown three piece suits and they did a really good worsted cloth suit with big peak lapels with a purple lining which I wore for 6th form.

KO:

I can see a pattern developing here…

A:

It was something I wouldn’t touch these days but at the time I loved it, and that’s really where it all started. 2 years of wearing s suit every day for 6th form, and by the end of 2 years I’d kind of done enough experimenting to know what I liked and what I didn’t like. Then, when I got to uni, I started blogging and started actually bugging Jermyn Street and Savile Row bands, and that’s how that all began. First it was music, then it was the style behind the music.

KO:

You’ve more or less covered all of my questions in that one answer!

A:

How about that?

KO:

I was going to ask, as you were growing up, were there any interests that shaped he person you have become?

A:

I suppose I’m a bit of an obsessive personality too. We have an unfortunate overkill our family for that. My dad loves watches – a big car, Hi-Fi and watch nut, and I got the clothes side of things. There’s a joke in our family that nobody can ever have just one of something, whether it’s cake or a suit. I’ve always been interested in engineering and how things are made. That initially came about as I think it does with a lot of young boys, for a love of the railway and those sorts of charming fantasies that you have about driving trains.

When a subject grips me, it’s there and I can’t get away from it.

KO:

But that’s also something which leads in to tailoring. The structure and construction. People who like bespoke are often in to the construction behind them and the techniques used in their construction.

A:

Exactly, and you know that the kind of brands that get me fired up are craft led brands, and I would hope to never lose that. I think there’s not enough luxury journalism today that’s about things of quality and how things are made; about handwork and the value of doing something by hand. You don’t always get to tell those kinds of stories, but when I do, those are the ones I really love. So, again, you’re right, it does feed in.

When I was blogging, and looking back at this now, he thing that really seemed to help the blog to take off was how deep down I went in to the details of different house styles. How tailors were padding shoulders, or padding lapels or how they cut their belly, or if there was a little dart somewhere you wouldn’t expect to find a dart. I used to write paragraphs on that kind of thing and I loved it.

You’d imagine it would be incredibly boring, but fortunately the audience then got it, or wanted to read about it.

There are a few connections I have which go way back to the blog which is now 5 or 6 years old; guys that have followed me from very early on who often ask where that level of detail has gone? Why aren’t you writing in the Jackal, you know 500 words on a specific shirt collar?

KO:

I suppose, ultimately, that’s the freedom if you like, of the blogosphere. It can be very obsessive, very niche because there’s not that editorial control you’d have to adhere to.

A:

Precisely; which I think is both a blessing and curse sometimes. I remember when I started at The Rake, I had quite a few connections from my time as a blogger who were keen on leveraging coverage – and you can never cover a brand just because you know it – there always has to be reason to a tell a story, something compelling and objective.

For that reason, the blog had to go – I don’t think you can be both a blogger and an in-house journalist – a freelancer by all means, but not a full-time magazine staffer. It’s tricky to keep that balance.

BBC Henry Wood House Kirk Originals interview The Jackal Magazine

 

Read part 2 here.