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    Tiffany Chung

    30 Apr 2022

    Text by Tiffany Chung

    ØLÅF CITIZENS : DANIEL MEUL

    30 Apr 2022

    If dressing well is a form of good manners, then Daniel Meul is a true gentleman. In this edition of Citizens, the manager and buyer of Dutch fashion house, Pauw, shares his @suitwhisper expertise and tells us about how his simple interest in clothes became a well-tailored way of life.

     

    Hi Daniel, how did you become a buyer and what do you love about it?

    Actually, I never expected to be in fashion. I thought I was going to be a professional soccer player, but due to injuries at an early age I couldn’t pursue that profession anymore. I started helping out at a men’s fashion store on Thursdays and Saturdays and learned that I had a talent in sales, then it naturally progressed from there. Clothes were a hobby for me. They are still a hobby for me. You have to be interested in what you do. I don’t consider my job a job."

     

    Tell me about @suitwhisper.

    “The name was a joke. I was thinking about what a silly Instagram name would be and thought of the horse whisperer. When I was a teenager, suits from brands like Hugo Boss or Gucci were the main thing I really loved about fashion. It didn't matter if they were classical suits or very fashionable. I simply love to wear suits and that's more or less where I got triggered and got sucked into this crazy, always changing, evolving world of fashion."

    Pitti impressions.

    All about perseverance … challenging yourself

     

    Do you have an all-time favorite suit?

    “I would say two movie characters really stand out for me, Michael Douglas in his pinstripe suit with suspenders from Wall Street and Richard Gere in the American Gigolo because he was also very well dressed in that movie."

     

    What are the most important qualities to look for in a suit?

    “First of all, fit is everything. Every single body has a different measurement, so what would fit me well, wouldn't fit somebody else of a different height. For me, my number one tailor is Cesare Attolini in Naples because their suits are totally made by hand, and they have all my sizes. So, if I order a suit, a jacket, a pair of trousers, or a shirt, they make it especially for me. A good tailor is the best thing you could have. It also means you're spoiled for life because I don’t think I could wear something off the rack anymore."

     

    When you start the day with this group of distinguished gentlemen spirits are always great.

     

    Is there anything that you would never wear?

    “That's difficult to say. Maybe I wouldn't easily wear something like a dress, but on the other hand, if you are in Indonesia, you might wear a sarong with a jacket and a nice shirt on top of it. That would look spectacular. So, it depends on the occasion, the surroundings, and what is appropriate to wear. If it fits and it looks great on me, I will definitely wear it."

     

    You’ve spent the majority of your career at Pauw. What has motivated your long term commitment?

    “Opportunity and the trust Madeleine Pauw and the family gave me in order to build PAUW into what it is now. We are going to open our fourth store and when I joined the company in 1993, it was just one store and a small men’s corner in another women’s store and that was it."

    On my way!.

    Paris.

     

    How much should one invest in their first suit?

    “Ten years ago, people would spend more money on their first suits. In my generation, I could easily spend ¾ of my monthly salary on clothes and it didn’t worry me. That was just the thing you did in those days. But nowadays, young professionals are more interested in travelling and they don’t want to own a lot. They want to be free. So, even though I think the best place to start with your first suit is with us, today, if I was starting at a law firm or at a bank and I had a salary which would allow me to wear a certain price for a suit or jacket, I would go to Suit Supply. Quite frankly they copy all our big tailors, which we have in store at Pauw, but they really perfected it and go the extra mile in fabrics at a lower price.However, we do get a lot of fathers in our store who introduce their sons to their first suits after graduation."

     

    With the world becoming more digital, how do you think it will affect the industry?

    “For suits on our price level, I expect customers will still prefer to purchase in store rather than online. If you are willing to spend a certain amount of money, you are also buying an experience. You are in the store choosing the fabric and garments and there is emotion and joy in it. Also, I think vintage clothing and online stores, like Vinted, where you can sell your old clothes easily are very interesting. It’s great because then we don't throw away or pollute anymore. I always find somebody who can make use of my old clothes. Among my staff there are a couple of guys who wear my size."

     

    Winter wardrobe picking ... like a kid in a candy store.

    Green.

     

    Sometimes parents‘ wardrobes evolve to become more functional. Has your style changed after becoming a father?

    “I still dress the same way I did before. Yes, my suits have more stains than they used to every now and then, but I’ll just bring it to the cleaners. I think that’s the unconditional love a parent has for their child. I'm just happy to see him when I come home. I pick him up and I’m not thinking about what I’m wearing. Maybe the only thing that has changed is that I spend a little bit more money on him and less money on myself."

     

    Name your favorite place to travel.

    “Italy, for sure. I travel a lot to Milan for business. Also, my wife and I went to Sicily for our honeymoon. We love the tiny villages where you go to a simple coffee bar and have a nice espresso, or a cornetto, or a nice pasta and take in the nature and surroundings. Everything is simple and everything is pure. That’s what we love. Everywhere you go in Italy, it’s like walking through history and getting the opportunity to see how people lived thousands of years ago – what they did, how they think, and how they express themselves. It's quite exceptional."

     

    Favorite meal?

    “Fresh sea bass prepared in the oven with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper."

     

    What are your weekends like?

    “Actually, I don't have a weekend because I work on Saturday. Sunday is family day for me. We’re always together. Then, Monday is my day off and I take care of my son. It’s the best day, just me and him."

     

    Running.

     

    Name a person, a place, and a thing that inspires you.

    The place that personally inspires me: New York. I love the energy of the city. People that inspire me are two mentors who have substantial value in my life. First, my mother who is one of the strongest people I know. I come from a broken home and my father was never around. The second, Madeline, the owner of PAUW. I have been working for her for almost 30 years. She has always worked harder than anybody. She has so much room in her heart to give the people in the company the opportunity to grow and be successful.

     

    A thing that inspires me is something I learned from Japan. It’s where people prefer to do one thing all their life, trying to reach perfection and finding joy in it. There are too many people who try to succeed in many different things. I think maybe we should try to be a little bit more modest and just be great at one or two things that bring happiness to another person who appreciates what you do well.

    Tiffany Chung

    23 May 2022

    Text by Tiffany Chung

    ØLÅF CITIZENS : Virgil nicholas

    23 May 2022

    With honesty, well-being, and respect for oneself and each other as the foundation of Danish shoe brand, Vinny’s shoes, Virgil Nicholas has founded a shoe company with real soul. In this edition of Citizens, we step into the creative director’s classic leather loafers and discover more about his work, style, and way of life.

     

    Hi Virgil, why loafers?

    “Good question. I've always worn loafers and compared to all the other types of footwear in my wardrobe, they‘re the one pair of shoes that I wear to death. A couple of years ago, just before starting Vinny’s, I was looking at my rotation of the same four to five shoes I wore over and over and noticed I was missing that perfect loafer. I realized that's where I have a genuine heritage and story to tell, so it made sense that I bring that to the table myself."

     

    How should one feel when wearing a pair of Vinny’s?

    “I think the loafer, for me, is like when you put on a blazer jacket. It shapes you as a person, your back gets a little bit more upright and you carry yourself a bit more elegantly. Loafers do the same thing. I want both men and women to feel comfortable, relaxed, well-dressed, and feeling confident. I think when we feel our very best, we're better humans to ourselves and to our neighbors and next of kin. So, it's really about building self-respect."

    Still from podcast.

    From interview with Illum.

     

    Is that what makes you feel confident?

    “A good pair of loafers, yeah. I think one of my confidence boosters is definitely always a good outfit."

     

    Do you think good taste is something you’re born with, or can it be developed?

    “I think style and taste is definitely something that you can learn. It’s about what you're interested in, what you’re exposed to and influenced by. It's definitely something that you can adapt and grow into and out of. Personally, the influences from my mom and my dad and their post-colonial heritage, my African heritage, but also the urban references from when I was a kid, shaped my wardrobe. I always go to the same things. I have pieces in my wardrobe that go ten years back and it's the stuff that I love to wear the most. Then, occasionally you add new things."

     

    With Silas Oda Adler.

     

    What are your tips for someone who is developing their own style?

    “It starts with knowing who you are. A fashionable look or outfit can sometimes become a way to dress yourself up or to hide who you are, whereas style is about what we actually like and what you can see yourself wearing over and over again that resembles you. Also, read about pieces, find out how the penny loafer came about, the history of the slip dress, or research style icons. What makes hairstyles iconic today? Why do we like 90s fashion so much right now? Why's airport style interesting? I know a lot of men that research trends and decades and fashion and it's really been a way of shaping who they are. I've done the same, more from a research and creative perspective but it definitely helps me to also keep my own style universe sharp."

     

    Who's your style icon?

    “My dad. He always inspired me a lot."

    With kiddo.

    Vinny's.

     

    Do you hope to be a style icon for your son?

    “He already dresses way better than me. I think he already passed me. I just want to be a good role model, that's the most important thing for me."

     

    Has becoming a father changed the way you work?

    Only that I have to leave work a little bit early. I love to work, so that's why I hate having to leave work early. When he sleeps, I really love to work. Especially when I get to live out my dream. I'm so blessed and lucky that he loves coming into work with me. He's an open-minded kid and really at ease around my colleagues. I can bring him anywhere and that really makes my workflow a whole lot better.

     

    At parelstudios.

    On the road.

     

    What’s your favorite place to work?

    “We got our office four months ago and we have a red couch that I love sitting on. The most amazing thing is that our office is an old apartment, so we wanted to create a homey feeling. It's always hard to leave the office which is a good sign of a good workplace, at least for myself."

     

    Where do you like to relax?

    “Benches in my city. I love just sitting there and people watching. Not having any plans or any distractions, just a good pair of sunglasses to watch people. If you see me on a bench, you know what I'm doing. It’s the most relaxing thing ever."

     

    As a successful creative, you’ve had a lot of great ideas. Tell us about your worst idea.

    “My worst idea? Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t know, I’ve had a few. There was this one project, it was right after I started my first label, I wanted to create something that was more urban. So, we started making baseball t-shirts and the execution was good, but the name was horrible – it was a combination of three French words. I speak French with my parents, so it’s a big part of me and almost everything I do creatively starts with French. We actually got a lot of traction in France, but no one understood what we were trying to say. It was just the most horrible thing I've done. We had to shut it down quite quickly for numerous reasons but mostly the name was just a killer."

     

    Name one thing you hope to get better at.

    “I'm always on the go, always thinking about the next step, the next collection, the next campaign, am I picking up my son? I think what I need to be better at is enjoying the present. Enjoying the moment with people that are really dear to me. The thing I really value the most in my life are my relationships. It’s easy to make up an excuse not to meet up or make time for family and friends, but if it matters, then you need to remember to prioritize them. Time flies so fast."

     

    Counting blessings.

     

    Tell us something you hate to do but have to.

    Every month, I have to go through all my expenses and find all my receipts. It’s a work thing that I hate to do. I try to be really good at it, but I hate it.

     

    And something you love to do but rarely get to.

    I love to read and listen to audiobooks. I hate that I don't have or take the time to do it enough.

     

    Do you have a favorite book?

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Love it. It was really a kickstarter for how I started to believe in myself and knowing that anything you set your mind to is possible.

     

    What's one song you listen to on repeat?

    Gold by Prince. I saw him perform it live at a festival here in Denmark. It was a crazy experience.

     

    Young Virgil.

     

    Lastly, name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

    One of the places that inspires me a lot is Marrakech. I like it because it's a place where I always calm down, but I also see so much culture and so much honesty and genuineness in the population. I think, in general, Africa is fun because it's very true to its roots.

     

    For people, I've always been a huge fan of, it’s so cliché, but Denzel Washington. I love that guy mainly because he's really talented and he can wear a lot of hats, so to speak. His body of work combined with who he is as a person, from what he says, how he thinks, how he operates, and his composure is inspirational.

     

    I'm really inspired by tech and how it creates communities. For example, who would have thought even just ten years ago that there would be a car service where you can drive awesome cars without taking anything but your mobile device, logging in, driving it, then leaving it to share with another human being? It’s stuff like that, the whole shared economy in tech, I think is fantastic. It's about being helpful to each other. If the shared economy in tech could be integrated with fashion in a mainstream way, not just in the niches where it is right now, it would definitely be game-changing for the whole world.