Iconic Item


Even back when we used to hit the clubs together, as the Enfants Gâtés of lifestyle magazines, he had a certain quality in the way he carried himself and the clothes that made up his stylistic identity. Today, after walking miles of experimentation and influences, he has become a sort of an icon, himself, whether he cooks up the latest music for a catwalk show or he runs up and down the corridors of his office @Olive Media.

In a nutshell, what is your profession?

For the past four years, I have been the Managing Director at Olive Media, a company that represents international titles such as InStyle, People & Fortune in Greece, for their print & digital platforms. 2016 was a personal anniversary for me, as I completed 20 years in the field of magazines, publishing and creative services, having written for and run monthly publications, hosting a daily radio show, having worked as a creative consultant for design agencies and A-list brands that span from fashion, beauty, food & beverage, to telecommunications and undertaking the fashion show music direction for the design duo MI-RO, since 2007.

Does your work influence the way you dress?

It used to, not that much anymore. When I was younger, during the time I discovered the wonderful world of style, living inside the industry, it was inevitable for me to get influenced. I would get inspiration from the international magazines that would reach my office every day, from my amateur dabbling in the history of art, an eye that started to become more and more trained, having access to design and architecture on my various travels, I started choosing clothes that would have a clear impact on the way I wished to be dressed. Several fashion experiments at the beginning (there are pictures that I am embarrassed to even look at, now!), paved the way for the “uniforms” of my personal style.

Do you follow the trends, do they interest you?

I follow seasonal trends to the extend that I generally know what has been shown and where male fashion is heading, according to certain fashion houses. I don’t stop to think, analyse, compare or start a conversation whether a catwalk was top or flop, if someone has copied someone else etc. Not at all. In the past, due to my hardcore involvement with the editorial part of magazines, because it was my job to know, I would watch all the fashion shows, men and women’s, to the point I could distinguish the subtle differences between designer’s seams! That was too much. Nowadays I really enjoy browsing the post-apocalyptic / desert nomad clothes and accessories of Ann Demeulemeester, Yojhi Yamamoti & Rick Owens (I would love my casual wear to always have this «Mad Max / The Book of Eli / Hunger Games» aesthetic). Also, I very much enjoy looking at all those flashy street style images from Pitti Uomo in Florence, this top, biannual menswear gathering. They certainly give inspiration for variations and mini eccentricities on the “armor” of men’s fashion (suits). On the other hand, they really prove how much of a peacock a man can become in order to make a difference (and get their picture taken outside venues, in order to browse at themselves on the fashion portfolios and websites the next day.)

What stages did you do through, stylistically?

I never belonged to the group of people who came of age, stylistically, inspired by sacred fashion totems such as the rebellious biker’s jacket & the anti-hero attitude by Steve McQueen, the perfectly ironed, properly chic James Bond of Sean Connery, the exquisitely slim-cut suits of Paul Newman or the punk-rock badges and pins of The Sex Pistols & The Ramones. I am a genuine nineties child, a decade that, especially in its first half, would change every six months, coming up with something new, different, provocative, hedonistic, together with unconventional music that would draw everything else with it down the rabbit hole: Fashion, cinema, international magazines –huge source of inspiration, back then. Electronic, trip-hop, Manchester, grunge, brit-pop, alternative-rock, all this music gave birth to shiny heroes we would gaze at on the covers of magazines, vinyls and cd’s, and stole ideas from their haircuts and sneakers, tearing pages and taking them with us to thrift shops and rave – clothes shops, buying anything that resembled the clothes on the pictures, eagerly waiting for Friday to come, ready to put on the uniform that would place us in the right “lifestyle clan” that would dance or head bang on the dance floor by the thousands. My wardrobe back then was filled with random clothes & accessories, as if you had locked, in the same closet, Liam Howlett of Prodigy, Kurt Cobain, Tricky, Sean Ryder of the Happy Mondays, the Blur and … That That! Baggy jeans, Adidas Gazelle in all colors, Frond hoodies, torn and rendered jeans & All-Stars, t-shirts with psychedelic prints, navy shirts. After ’96 I did a major clearance in my stylistic references and pop-culture stimuli. My job certainly played a major part in this, so that was about the time my first blazers appeared, together with rock print t-shirts, old-skool sneakers, my first trip to London in 1998, where I discovered Helmut Lang (better late than never) and adored monochrome clothes and strict military coats, matching them with American camo trousers and Adidas Superstars. All this, let me say, clearly influenced by Echo & The Bunnymen. With the rise of indie-rock in early ‘00s and the coming of dandy stars Franz Ferdinand and Y2K rock stars The Strokes, my inspiration was enhanced, and so skinny jeans, slim neck-ties and tight blazers made their entry in my wardrobe. Around 2006 we lived the «French Electro» and «Blog House» fever, eager to look like the French music heroes of the time, Justice, Kavinsky, Sebastian Tellier. Sleeves came up in tight leather jackets, climbing up to the elbows, skinny jeans became even more suffocating and t-shirts adopted neon monochrome prints. Some time in 2010 I lived a week of unique experience, images and inspiration on classic men’s clothing at Pitti Uomo in Florence, and I experienced something like a reboot. I visited a tailor for the first time, I ordered my first suit and made a complete U-turn at handmade, three-piece suits, silk-knit ties, tie-bars, all with a twist, injected with vibrant colors and bold patterns. Bryan Ferry, David Hockney & David Bailey from the ’60s, Andre 3000, Basquiat and Cary Grant are always a good source of stylistic inspiration.

I never belonged to the group of people who came of age, stylistically, inspired by sacred fashion totems.

Do you tend to let go or add things to your look, growing up?

The motto «less is more» should be imprinted on the mind of men as they grow older. Less is more in words, less is more in experimentation, less is more in relationships, less is more in eating habits, less is more on your look. T-shirts lose their stamps. Trousers lose any unnecessary pockets. Costumes are simple and classic. Rings that bring to mind Ozzy Osbourne, Slash and Keith Richards (big rocks & skulls) should be placed in the drawer as memorabilia of a glorious, past rock n ‘roll era in your life. Accessories become discreet, without, however, becoming fewer.

What fashion faux pas have you made that now make you laugh?

Right before the Millennium, around 1999-2000, I remember a hot fashion item being some certain monochrome, red & gray t-shirts that we bought from department stores, a little reminiscent of the Prada t-shirts of the time. They were full of synthetics and felt almost like wearing a plastic bag. We would wear them, however, hammering and jumping in clubs, holding drinks and cigarettes in our hands…I wonder how we managed not to set ourselves on fire!

When did you find your style identity?

When, at some point in my life, I opened my closet and saw that monochrome was dominant, I felt that now I have a ‘base’. So it was time to be more creative when matching items. I started playing with details, color, shapes, and the texture of the fabrics, accessories. Style is, basically, creativity. It has some basic rules (eg, color) and after that, sky is the limit.

How much do you invest in your style? Would you rather not pay the rent in order to get that perfect pair of shoes right here and now?

Not anymore. The only serious spending I do nowadays is on shoes. And a good shirt, preferably tailor made. I have stopped buying designer’s t-shirts. I am not interested. I will go to military stores in Athenas street, get some plain monochrome black, gray or dark blue t-shirts, take the scissors and just cut out the sleeves, intervene at the neckline and change some seams, making the shirt “my own”. I never sacrificed my rent to get clothes. But I would, with no regret, use the money to travel. Growing up I realized that one of the most important ‘investments’ in life, after family and relationships, is not in clothes but in the images and experiences accumulated by your life journeys.

What song describes your style?

I love it when a color splash balances out monochrome. A red detail on old-skool sneakers, when the rest of your look is darker than Darth Vader’s. Burgundy or dark purple socks hidden under a gray suit. Distinctive, but when it catches your eye it gives away its unexpected character. Something that Verve’s Richard Ashcroft has perfectly sung in «Break The Night With Colour».

What do you hate in women’s trends?

Distressed jeans. And platform sneakers.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received for your look?

I do not know if it was the best, but it was right on spot: this photograph was taken on the upper floor of Clumsies bar that looks like a traditional English club. I am covered in tweed. The punch line was inevitable: “You look like a British Lord.”

Best fashion investment you’ve made?

The best investment I have made is to change my mindset on formal dressing. I have stopped buying ready-made suits. I choose my own fabric, linings and buttons and deliver them to the “specialist”. I have found an amazing old-school tailor (Mr. Vassilis), who has made suits for many people from the foreign diplomatic corps in Athens. Super experienced, fast, affordable, trustworthy. With some guidance from my part, when we first met (style, line and how tight I wanted my trousers to be), he now makes three-piece suits sewn on me in half a fitting!

Cheapest item in your closet?

A plain gray t-shirt bought at Topman in London, for around 6 pounds, four years ago, worn non-stop without one single seam opening. Value for money or what?

Tell me about this suit. What’s the story behind it?

This gray tweed fabric was bought three years ago. For a year, it was left in my drawer. When I recovered it, I handed it over to Mr Vassilis, setting up a three-month plan to complete it. Work, inconsistency, I never went for a fitting, so it stayed in the tailor’s closet for yet another year. Just before Christmas 2016 I decided to sew it, as a gift to myself for my name day, embarrassed as hell towards Mr Vassilis for my one-year delay. I had never worn tweed before. I became so obsessed with its texture, I found myself caressing it like a cat, when I first hung it up in my house! My first memories of tweed have roots in my childhood, my weekends in the village of my grandparents in Pelion. Grandpa Vangelis would come back from working in the fields, washed, shaved, and then wore his tweed jacket, take me by the hand and go out to the village café for some ouzo and discussions with his friends, while I enjoyed a sugary sweet called “ypovrichio”.

How do you intend to wear it?

In all possible stylistic combinations, casual, semi-casual or formal, as a three piece suit or isolating pieces and combining them with jeans, sneakers and shirts with stripes or polka dot patterns.

What do you think will be its future?

I’ll wear it until it melts away. And after I patch it up I will continue to wear it.

Follow Lefteris Kefalas on Instagram: @Lefkef
The photo-shoot took place at Clumsies bar, #9 on the list of ‘The World’s Best Bars’