KO:
Going back the the blog, did you have intentions of becoming a journalist?

A:
It didn’t ever really occur to me. I wanted to use the blog as a vehicle to find myself a place in brand building. I really, really wanted to join a tailor, shirtmaker or shoemaker who needed help with communication and embracing the modern age. I wanted to use the blog to connect with brands, to show them what I was doing and ask, do you need a marketing assistant? Do you need help with PR? That was my thinking. I spent three years doing that throughout university and I was no further forward. Nobody had a job for me.
Then, a friend of mine, Chris Modoo, gave me an idea. He was one of my very first mentors, and one of the first creatives on Savile Row to really get into my writing. I remember sitting in the pub with him and he said to me “I don’t see you working in retail, I see you writing about it”. He called it first. When I graduated, I met the Founder of The Rake at a catwalk show during London Collections: Men (as it was called back then) and he was kind enough to take some time to look at my writing, and liked my work. It all went from there.

KO:
Let’s talk about tailoring. When was the first time you actually commissioned something, or got something made for you?

A:
I think I was 17; I spent months saving up for a ‘half handmade’ Cad & The Dandy suit. It’s funny how things come back around, because I wear a lot of ready-to-wear tailoring these days, but when I was young and experimenting, I couldn’t find the things I liked off-the-peg. I’ve always been in to Jazz-age style for the reasons we’ve discussed. I couldn’t find a double breasted waistcoat, a pleated trouser, a high-rise trouser, and I couldn’t find a big peak lapel jacket. At the time we were in the height of the skinny, two button notched lapel suit. So, I went in to Cad, and worked with the chaps there and blogged about it; that was the first real craft story I wrote, getting this half handmade suit made. It had four-and-a-quarter inch peak lapels, and was cut in navy Dugdale Brothers 13oz serge cloth, a six button double breasted waistcoat with a14 inch rise on the trousers and an 18 inch hem. A real art deco style, heavy navy suit.

KO:
So it wasn’t half hearted at all!

A:
If anything it was too much! Try going to dinner in a 14 inch rise trouser – it’s agony once your stomach’s full. That’s where it started though; I did a few things with Cad and an article on Roy Sarling, the bespoke shirtmaker at Ede & Ravenscroft, who is a wizard – very very talented. Those were the early projects I remember. From there I started to work with Edward and Dominic at Edward Sexton and they’re still a big influence on my sartorial interest today. Back then I covered dozens of brands. It’s important, when you’ve got a blog about one subject that you’re as varied as possible. But then, there are brands that I’ve come back to over the years because I really connect with them. I’ve worked with just about everybody on Savile Row at some point.

KO:
You mentioned Edward Sexton earlier, would you say he’s your favourite tailor?

A:
I don’t have a favourite, I’m very clear about that because every tailor is different – they all have to be judged on their own terms. What I will say though, is that Edward and his Creative Director, Dominic, have taught me a lot about dressing over the years and really do understand how to make a guy feel sexy in his clothes. And that’s special as far as I’m concerned.

KO:
I suppose it’s about understanding, isn’t it? Building a relationship.

A:
Exactly, and I go to different brands for different things – when I’m in a position to. You have to play to the craftsman’s strengths.

KO:
You mentioned you buy more ready-to-wear now; do you think the look you like is becoming more common than it was?

A:
I think I’ve relaxed a little bit. I’ve been engaging with men’s style for long enough to have been through that initial obsessive period. You get it out of your system and relax and start trying new things. I spend a lot more time in casual-wear now and very rarely wear a tie, whereas the me of two years ago was always in a pin collar and power suit. So, I’ve enjoyed exploring my style and also moving to The Jackal. We’re more relaxed as as magazine, and to represent the title, it’s nice to stick on a pair of jeans, and a roll neck, and throw a topcoat on – or wear a bomber jacket with flannels on the weekends.

KO:
Do you get any stick over that from people one Savile Row for example? 

A:
There’s probably someone out there thinking I’ve lost the plot, but menswear is about experimenting. The suit I’m wearing today is two years old, and I haven’t worn it for a few months, so today I just fancied throwing it on again – it all comes around again in time. I’m very lucky to have a lot of nice things, so I tell myself not to obsess over wearing a certain look. I tell myself, “just enjoy your clothes. If a look doesn’t work; it’s not the end of the world. Stop f*cking agonising over it.”

KO:
When you’re thinking of commissioning something, does it tend to be your own idea or do you spend a lot of time looking at fabrics, talking to the tailor, reflecting on what you’ve done with other people?

A:
It depends entirely on who you’re working with, I think. I’ve been commissioning stuff from the Sexton team on-and-off for a few years now, but every time I go in with a set idea, I come out with something completely different, because the guys know best. You learn not to fight it. If you do fight it the result is often a poor garment, or a garment that doesn’t do what you were hoping for. But, when I work with a tailor for the first time – for example, when I was lucky enough to commission a suit from Steven Hitchcock – Steven lead that process. All I knew was I wanted something that represented his house style. We found our way through that together. If you fight the craftsman, you’ve missed the opportunity to get something that expresses what they’re about. I learned that the hard way.

KO:
Aleks, you’re quite bold in your choices, and the way you dress. Would you like to see more people doing that, or do you not really concern yourself with how others dress; you’re not on a mission to make anyone be more adventurous?

A:
I’m on a mission to make people feel comfortable expressing themselves with clothes. So many guys, particularly in London, just aren’t confident enough. I wouldn’t for a minute expect many guys to dress like me, because you’d have to be slightly mad, and work in an industry where there’s no dress code. But, I think there are a lot of intelligent, well-off, dynamic guys out there who don’t engage with clothes at all. It always makes me sad because it really doesn’t have to be tricky; I’ve never understood why there’s always a big invisible fashion-barrier that you have to overcome as a guy. If you just go into a decent shop and buy a sharp double breasted navy blazer, you’ve nailed it! You can’t go wrong with well-made classics and you’ll just look better.
So, that’s a big part of what The Jackal is about. How can we make our readers more interesting or informed than they were before they picked it up? That comes with accessible style advice. We’re not out to scare anyone, or to propose something unrealistic. It’s not difficult to pair some really nice flat-front grey flannel trousers with dark brown brogues, a white shirt and a navy blazer. You can do that! Nobody will judge you. You’ll feel good. Women are going to think, “he looks nice, he looks different.” Honestly, you don’t need to be a geek or a connoisseur –guys today just need to be a tiny bit braver with their style!

KO:
One last question; who do you look at? Who do you admire for the way they dress?

A:
The first person I’ve got to shout out to, who I admire very much, and I hope he doesn’t read this, is Jamie Ferguson, (JKF_man) Jamie’s photography is tremendous, but when you look at the guy behind the lens, he is so switched on to good menswear. In the last few months, when I’ve caught up with him he’s always worn something I’ve wanted to copy. He’s been wearing a Stoffa flight jacket, so I had to get a Stoffa flight jacket, he had an Inis Meain rollneck, and I thought ‘oh, I need one of those.’ He’s always on the pulse.
On the wider menswear scene, I love what the Japanese wear – the buyers at Beams, Shuhei Nishiguchi and Tomoyoshi Takada are just palpably cool. The others for me actually, are all Scandinavians; the brands out there are nailing it. They take what’s sexy and comfortable about Italian clothing and remove all the showiness from it. They wear a lot of subtle earthy colours: beige, taupe, chocolate, fawn, mushroom and make clothes that really benefit from soft lines and textures; it’s like a menswear dream. They’re not afraid of dressing in a very masculine but very chic way, and it’s really next level compared to a lot of British fashion.

Then of course, there are the old greats. It sounds cliched but I come back to Fred Astaire a lot: his tailoring, his Hollywood tops, his repp stripe ties. And, I love the old 1920s Kuppenheimer fashion plates, partially because illustrated clothes always look better than they do in real life, and partially because they’re a window into another time. On some level, I think everyone with an interest in classic style is a nostalgist – we’re all trying to create looks from the past, and wear them in a fresh, relevant way. Maybe one day, one of us will figure out the magic recipe.

Title image: Aleks wearing Kirk Originals burton frames. Shot during London Fashion Week: Men’s by @rkzuk