Best-dressed non-professional 2019: @Gusvs9
Runners-up: @urbancomposition, @flannels_and_tweed
@Gusvs9 doesn’t like people to know who he is. You never see his face on Instagram, and there is no biography.
Such an approach is almost weird in the age of Instagram influencers. Yet it’s also a reflection of how he dresses – and, in a way, how Permanent Style has always encouraged readers to dress. Simply but well.
Gustaf is the winner of this year’s ‘Best dressed’ Permanent Style award, which we decided to limit to non-professionals: those that don’t work in the menswear industry.
One of the pleasures of Instagram is how much visual inspiration there now is from such stylish men around the world – who don’t work for a brand but who wear brands’ clothes in elegant ways.
We wanted to recognise that, and celebrate it.
To judge the award, as in 2018, we had a panel. Style is such a subjective area (unlike, say, customer service) that I feel a panel is best placed to judge – it is clearly their opinion, rather than anything objective.
Last year I was joined on that panel by Michael Drake and Jamie Ferguson. This year, I decided to ask winners of last year’s awards: Greg Lellouche of No Man Walks Alone (which won the customer service award) and Ethan Newton of Bryceland’s (who won the best-dressed award).
Greg, Ethan and I had slightly differing opinions, but we all loved Gustaf’s style, and agreed on Peter @urbancomposition and Andreas @flannels_and_tweed as very worthy runners-up.
On Gustaf’s style, Ethan said: “Gustaf is simply elegant. He uses some of the best tailors in the world and dresses beautifully.” While Greg commented: “I’ve been admiring his impeccable style for years. He has amazing taste and his outfits are systematically well composed.”
So, I phoned Gustaf to ask about his style, his tailors, and not playing Instagram’s stupid games.
Permanent Style: Gustaf, let’s talk about the anonymous point first. Why do you prefer not to show your face?
Hi Simon. I think it’s just that I focus on my job a lot, and I don’t want that and Instagram to mix. Sweden is a small country, and it wouldn’t be hard for the two to connect.
I started posting things on Instagram because I liked seeing what others were wearing, and it’s nice if it’s reciprocal. I don’t think you can’t just watch, you have to contribute.
I really enjoy it, but it’s just a hobby, a nice way to connect with people.
How did your interest in classic menswear start?
Probably with my father. He was always well-dressed, always in a suit and tie, even wearing a tie at the weekend.
It was part of his generation I guess. I’m in my mid-forties, he was born in the 1940s, and back then he wore a school uniform, then a suit every day.
But there was also a personal interest there, an element of dressing to please himself. He enjoyed his clothes and enjoyed the impression it gave.
At what age did you first get into clothing?
I think I was always quite peculiar and particular about things. Certainly compared to my older brother, who has no interest whatever in clothing.
I remember when I was five, we were living in Cyprus at the time and I dragged my father out to find cowboy boots. It was the late 1970s and everyone was wearing them.
I was extremely stubborn. But fortunately they didn’t have any in my size, so I avoided that fashion moment.
And did you discover tailoring, like most of us, when you had to wear it for work?
Yes, exactly. So there was a period when I was a teenager when I wanted to dress the opposite of my father, but when I started working, then I discovered a passion for tailoring.
What was your first job?
It was at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm, so it was a very official environment, and particularly so being Japanese. Everyone wore a suit and tie.
I started buying some basic suits, then some made-to-measure – Belvest, for example.
There were only a couple of menswear stores in town and I used to hang out there, chatting to the guys about styles.
Later on, I started travelling to Japan a lot. And while they didn’t have much bespoke, they had a lot of menswear, and particularly Italian brands that you would never see in Stockholm.
I bought things from United Arrows, from Sovereign House. And then when we actually moved to Japan later, that’s when I started buying bespoke.
Who did you first make with in Japan?
It was a small tailor – I forget the name – that doesn’t exist now. I found them through Men’s Ex, the Japanese magazine.
However, most significant was that I got to know Liverano. Not Antonio himself, but the brand through the shop-in-shop they had at Sovereign House.
At the time it seemed very classic to me, very traditional. Everything, in Japan and Sweden, was very tight and short. But over time that classic style began to appeal.
So did you end up buying bespoke from Liverano?
Only a while later. First we moved back to Stockholm, and there wasn’t any bespoke here really, apart from AW Bauer and that wasn’t to my taste.
But later we went on our family holiday to Florence, and that was when I popped in to Liverano. And met Taka. The Japanese connection helped a lot, and I quickly decided next time I’d come back and have my first suit made by them.
When did you end up going back?
My first Liverano? Actually let me check, I have the jacket here… it was completed in 2012.
And how many do you have today?
Ah, there’s the question. Eleven I think. Quite a collection, but built steadily over the years. They were cheaper back then too – before The Armoury brought them to wider attention.
I think I fell in love with the Florence silhouette. It suits me well, and I adore the lines. It’s no coincidence that the other tailor I’ve ended up using a lot – Sartoria Corcos – is also in Florence and also Japanese.
And I’ve recently placed my first order with Sartoria Cresent in Milan – again Japanese – after carefully reading your article on him on Permanent Style.
It’s interesting that you’ve stuck with so few styles. Most men today take the opposite approach, and want to try everyone.
Well, I have tried one or two others. I have used WW Chan, and I did try the Neapolitan style with Napoli Su Misura, when they were coming to Stockholm. That was actually before Liverano.
They were very much hyped on Style Forum – I was reading it a lot at the time – and I managed to get them to come and see a few of us.
It was OK as an entry-level bespoke I guess, but it was the same story as many tailors, particularly Neapolistans – as they got too big, the quality started to suffer.
I’ll be interested to see what Cresent is like, as I’ve never had anything Milanese. And in the future I might try something English, probably Anderson & Sheppard.
But it sounds like you’ve found your style, and enjoy the best aspects of bespoke – the relationship that develops, and the perfection of a look you like.
Yes, and to be fair the Florentine style suits the more formal environment I’m in most of the time.
Do you still work with the Chamber of Commerce?
No, I now work for a large industrial company, actually headquartered in the UK.
And how do people dress there? Are any of your outfits we see ever a little too smart for them?
In London most of the senior management wear a suit and tie, but in other offices – as everywhere – it’s becoming more casual, and most people wear just a suit and shirt. Even just a shirt and trousers is common.
I’ll be completely honest, even I sometimes wear just a suit and shirt because anything smarter would be out of place, but I like to always wear a tie.
People say you should dress for yourself, but that’s just not realistic in a professional environment, particularly when you meet clients and need to dress for them.
You can do a lot by not wearing showy things though – not a double-breasted suit, not a pinstripe etc.
Do you ever wear a sports jacket and trousers, when a tie would be too formal?
Yes, and in fact that’s what I prefer when I’m not wearing a tie. A suit and shirt just feels too odd, as if something’s missing.
I’ll often add a cardigan or something else under the jacket as well, to add some interest.
You seem to wear a pocket handkerchief in all your outfits though – does that not stand out as much as a tie?
No, I don’t think so. I’ve probably been wearing them so long that it would feel odd to me – and even look odd to others – if I wasn’t wearing one. And if I want to be more subtle then a simple white handkerchief in a TV fold is fine.
You mentioned you’re in your mid-forties with a family – what do you wear at the weekend?
Ah yes. My two children are fairly young, so there’s the issue of not wearing anything white at the weekends – but you know, you have young children as well.
Absolutely, and it’s something readers ask about a lot. All your pictures are of formal clothing though – are you not interested in casual clothing, or do you just not post images of it?
No, I like more casual things. I like Japanese denim, I always do my research on what I buy. But the interest is not on the same level as tailoring.
And also I want everything I wear to be simple, something I’m comfortable in. You know how it can be in menswear, where it borders on theatre, everyone in their costumes. That’s why I generally dress quite classically.
Yes. I think that comes across quite clearly from your feed.
You wear shirts and tailoring that are plain or with very subtle patterns, for example, which means any pattern of tie or handkerchief works with them.
Exactly. My favourite suit is probably a grey pinhead suit from Liverano – I call it the perfect suit. It’s the perfect colour, fabric, structure and fit, and it goes with everything.
It’s great with a crisp white shirt and a dark blue tie. But it’s equally nice with a blue shirt, perhaps in a subtle pattern, and a coloured tie.
And my other favourite is a blue hopsack jacket from Liverano – a little lighter than navy, but not too strong. Again, the fit and make are just perfect.
I often take that one travelling, and take different trousers to wear with it on day two. It’s fully lined as well, so I can wear it long into the autumn.
It’s interesting, I expected most readers to vote for people that combined lots of different colours, patterns and so on. But actually, your classic combinations are clearly appreciated.
That’s lovely to know. I don’t feel an urge generally to try different colours – it’s very much things that feel natural to me.
I do think Antonio Liverano is the master of colour, and he does encourage me to step outside my comfort zone now and again. But it’s rare.
What’s the biggest mistake that young guys make with bespoke do you think?
Well, it’s the obvious one, something you come back to on Permanent Style a lot – they don’t start with the basics.
All of a sudden you have all these options, and want something exciting, so you go for big checks and patterns.
I understand it, I did it myself. And it’s not entirely a mistake, as you learn from it. But I’d always suggest someone start with a classic, plain suit. Buying bespoke is when you’re investing a lot of money in clothing, and you don’t want it to be waste.
Keep it simple. Less is more.
How do you feel about Instagram and the way it works?
I don’t like it. There are all the games people play, with liking each other’s posts, and trying to work out what the Instagram algorithm likes at a given moment.
I know others that have started to lose followers because they don’t do those things, and I guess I’m lucky that I don’t care how many followers I have. But it’s frustrating that this is how it works.
And of course when you have 18,000 or 20,000 followers, people start offering you things to wear or endorse, which I always turn down.
Sometimes I also get annoyed at other people like me – who are not in the business – who have professional photographers come and take photos of them.
It’s fine for those working in it, I think, like yourself or Andreas Weinas, but to do it as a normal person feels fake.
When a normal person says ‘Monday morning, off to work’ and then has this perfect photo in perfect light, it’s just silly.
Personally, I find it odd that people don’t differentiate between the internet – where a search engine is regulated – and something like Instagram, where they can stop showing your images to people if you don’t spend money with them, for example.
Yes, exactly. It all seems rather unclear.
Fortunately I decided I’ll never be able to outsmart them so I just ignore it altogether. But it must be more annoying for others that have a business that relies on it.
I’m delighted to see the site is still growing by the way, I’m amazed. Instagram is great for me, but I love the fact that there is still in-depth content too.
Thanks. I always liked the contrast between ‘lean forward’ and ‘lead back’ media. I like the idea that a reader is leaning back in his chair and relaxing into it.
Yes, that’s a good way to put it.
Well, thanks for your time Gustaf. Congratulations on your award again, and hopefully I’ll see you in London sometime soon.
My pleasure Simon, and thanks again.
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Gustaf is not just one of the best dressed men I´ve ever met but one of the most humble and kind ones. Can´t imagine a more worthy winner.
Congrats to the winner!
I was actually expecting Luigi Solito to win this by a country mile…. Ok, the quality of production has come off since Solito has been scaling up but he’s clearly a very well dressed man!
Unfortunately Luigi didn’t qualify Nick, it was just non-industry people this time…
“You never see his face on Instagram, and there is biography.” I assume a “no” should be squeezed in there?
Anyway, very well deserved winner. And I really like the take of nominating people outside of the business. Can’t wait to read about the other winners.
Yes, just spotted that typo…thanks
A worthy winner
An interesting discussion. However, the first sentence should probably read “@Gusvs9 doesn’t like people to know who he is. You never see his face on Instagram, and there is no biography” (or “no biography on his public profile”?
Yep, should be a ‘no’ there
This is a real joy to read .
It’s about a guy who leaves out his ego and there’s references to other ‘normal’ people who dress beautifully.
Clean , simple …. just beautiful .
I’ve noted some of the people who wear ‘tailored’ clothes the best seem to be Scandinavian and Japanese …..must be something in the culture.
None of that over accessorised , tight fitted , overt tailoring .
Simon , get on a plane and do a thorough critique of that ‘perfect Liverano suit’.
It’s looks truly beautiful .
Lastly , please do expand on what’s going on with Instagram …. you’ve insinuated things a couple of times recently but would love to hear more .
Good, I’m so pleased you liked it.
You have no idea what really going on with Instagram, just like with Google algorithms. The thing that’s different is Instagram changes more to incentive different types of use, and that there’s no competition or regulation, unlike a search engine. Google is fined for promoting its own services above those of others. There’s no such control once you’re in a service like Instagram or Facebook.
Speaking as a Swede, I do think that culturally we are less inclined to “peacocking”. You are not supposed to show off.
Year after year, I find the results of this vote disapointing, as it seems to always pick italian style over British or French. Whilst I appreciate this style dominates, I keep on hoping one would vote for someone wearing suits by masters of style (Davide Taub, Cifo, E Sexton, maybe Atolini…) instead. It is like people voting Audi for the world’s best car rather than Aston Martin (or other equivalent). I guess it is not even a question of price here as Liverano is very expensive. I find such cuts boring as hell and incoherent (even more so as a working suit) but it is obviously personal.
I appreciate that Gus has a disciplined, subtle elegance, but apart for those unable to dress on their own, I can not understand why one would follow those kinds of account. But obviously many do.
I think you’re being pretty narrow about this Gonzague. Liverano and Corcos are masters just as much as the others, it’s just very personal as to what style you like, and this doesn’t seem like your style.
I would have thought you’d still appreciate the colour combinations though – which is what the vote is largely for, rather than which tailor you like.
I did mention the combo (‘Gus has a disciplined, subtle elegance’), I just expect someone to have this, plus suits that have more style. I think it is ok criticizing the likes of Liverano as their reputation speak for themselves. I just find that the quoted tailors could be likened to sculptors. Liverano certainly is a master of make and fit, can it be also said about style, I wonder. It is not just me drawing a line between what I like or not but I just feel that the mentioned tailors belong to a different league (one could include some work by Musella Dembech).
Sorry for sharing negative thoughts.
Not at all Gonzague, it’s great to have them, just nice to clarify bits.
And it’s just that comparing styles between Liverano and the others is very subjective I think. There’s little difference in terms of executing that style
Proud to see fellow Swede Gustaf being chosen for the award. Very well deserved!
Great read, refreshing perspectives!
Next year could we please have a Best dressed man of modest means category, too?
Do you think PS, promoting a subtle and classic elegance, resonates particularly strongly within certain cultures. I am thinking about Japanese and Scandinavian people for instance. Aside from the known Japanese attachment to craftsmanship.
Likewise, did you notice any relevant link between voters and voted (nationality being one)?
Interesting point. Yes I think so, there’s a parallel between an interest in craft and nationality too, but style is a stronger one
Swedes often voted.for Swedes, but then they usually do
And do scandinavians and japanese represent a larger proportion of your readership than one may expect?
Than you might expect based purely on language skills? Yes, slightly
Several related points arise out of Gustaf’s (negative) comment on pinstripes in your Q and A (despite his showing a rather lovely pinstripe suit, and lots of other wonderful, tasteful combinations, in his Instagram account). The first question is why cloths with a defined pattern seem to be less popular for suits than they were for several decades – until about ten years ago. Is it fashion, ease of making (in ready to wear particularly) and/or reducing waste (again, particularly in ready to wear)? If we go with that plain fabric trend are we not conforming to a modern “standardization” – when one sees any suited men on any television broadcast they all seem to wear the plain suit, plain tie, plain shirt ‘uniform’ ? Is there much point having clothes made if they are just (fit, materials, quality of make, maybe style excepted) just part of the uniform? To what extent does anyone feel that he ‘should’ dress like the client (another of Gustaf’s points), however bad that is?
On the pattern point, I think things have become more sober as the dandy look has become less trendy, but I generally welcome it. It’s usually more elegant finding smaller patterns and textures in cloth, and in shirts and ties
Gustaf, in his tie choice, reminds me of the comments made by Cary Grant in an old but very readable interview featured in GQ: his tie choice was always toward subtlety wherein pattern size was small against backgrounds of muted but complimentary palettes. Worth a look for its general tone…
Great interview and a very worthy winner. I think I have seen him in person once, at a Skoab trunk show for St Crispins, and he seems to be a great guy. I think that he has what you can called an understated elegance, very beautiful but you don´t know exactly why you like it. I dont know if we Swedes vote for each other but I think that most of us that reads PS also reads Andreas Weinås on Manolo and appreciate that kind of style.
Interesting about Instagram but don’t think internet search engines are subject to much regulation either.
Google was fined 5bn dollars last year by the EU for antitrust violations. There have been several other cases about them promoting their own services on the search engine as well
That’s not regulation, that’s breaching competition rules. Instagram are subject to the same (if ever they were investigated). Regulation of online services doesn’t exist beyond the work of the Advertisiting Standards Assocation – hence the furore over fake news.
I don’t think you’re right Adam. I used to report on competition law among other things. The difference is that the internet is an open space where different companies are competing, and hence subject to competition law. Instagram is not, it’s a single closed system. So they can prioritise people that advertise with them, and promote their own services. Google cannot.
Also, it’s not just the ASA, the CMA also regulates from a consumer point of view (see my ‘Is this an ad’ page in the footer)
I work in media regulation. The CMA is the competition body. Instagram is subject to competition law just like any other company doing business in the UK, enforced by the CMA. Whether it has a dominant position like google etc and is found to be abusing that position is another matter. But honestly it is not regulated like, say, Ofcom regulates broadcasters or VOD services – on a daily basis – only if there is a specific competition complaint against them. That’s the whole reason the Culture Secretary met with Mark Zuckerberg today, proclaiming that the era of “self regulation” is over (foreshadowing the Online Harms Bill later this year). If the internet was regulated we would be living in a very different world today. That said, I do accept the idea that in practice Google has been (moderately) restricted as to what it can do as a result of the competition case you refer to, whereas Instagram was not in scope and so is free to do what it wants. I wasn’t involved in that case but I imagine Instagram was not seen as a dominant service by the EU. Anyway, sorry for the rant.
Not at all Adam, thank you.
My point is not that Instagram and Google are regulated or overseen any differently. But just that if you search within Instagram, you are using their search and searching only their content. They are in complete control of the results you see, and indeed what is in your feed. Google, however, is showing other people’s content, and as a result has had legal cases brought against it for how it shows and prioritises content as a result.
I agree that in practice google is slightly more restricted but that is the result of its market dominance in search, not the fact it links to external content – there are plenty of external links accessible via Instagram and if Instagram were dominant in a particular market such as search it would probably have been given the same scrutiny by competition authorities, but it hasn’t so far (although the culture Secretary has just this week instructed the CMA to investigate advertising practices in social media, which may encompass Instagram). My point is neither are subject to much regulation, certainly not on a routine basis. If you are in any doubt about this, dare I say google “is google regulated”?!!
Thanks Adam, and absolutely neither is regulated much.
I think we’re just making slightly different points, and mine is very narrow. It’s just that most users of Instagram don’t realise how much searching Instagram content can be controlled and manipulated, where search engine results generally are not.
Thanks again for the informed contribution to the discussion.
Fair enough. I know you’ve touched on it before but it would be interesting to me to read a piece about how Instagram and any other online services have impacted fashion or clothing. From a consumer point of view, I find Instagram both useful/informative and also quite restrictive and repetitive. Probably for the reasons you note. Great site.
Thanks Adam, and yes good point. If nothing else, I think it’s nice to retain a range of media presenting different ways of considering the same things – more analytical, more original I guess
I do like the stylistic choices this gentleman makes. Muted and understated and refined.
Not that sure about the silhouette though. Certainly, GusVS must feel very comfortable. But he’s lean and tall and this rather cropped version of tailoring (probably more designed for smaller men?) makes his legs and neck even longer and draws our eyes to his body rather than his face. I’d love to see this silhouette in wider and longer trousers and slightly extended shoulders. While I understand Gus wants to give A&S a try, I think he might want to say hello to Davide Taub of G&H and to Joseph of Chittleborough&Morgan as well. when he’s in London anyway. I do not find the more structured look restrictive at all and it might suit tall, slim gentlemen with long necks better, although I understand we all have different preferences.
Looking through some of the Instagrams you reference on this post I notice that a Napoli tailor called Saint Gregory features quite a lot. Have you come across them personally?
Great interview. It is important to have your own distinctive style. Me? Je suis “l’homme du sport”.
Thank you for sharing this interview, a lovely discussion and great perspective on the topics covered. Congratulations to Gustaf on the award
Great advice. Thanks for the ideas