Video: Tony Sylvester, style and subcultures
Can subcultures ever exist in this century the way they did in the last? Why are logos better on some clothes than others? Why do French men dress like happy Englishmen?
When I introduced this talk with Tony Sylvester I promised a wide ranging menswear discussion, and the audience wasn’t disappointed.
Luckily we were able to film the whole thing, so it’s here for all those that want answers to those questions - or just want to hear why Tony can’t look at images of himself from more than about three years ago.
The evening at Mortimer House was incredibly enjoyable - thank you to all the readers that came along, and to Mortimer for hosting us. I’m sure there will be more talks like this one, so keep your eyes peeled.
The products on display are from Tony’s still fairly young brand, AWMS. You can read his articles on Permanent Style over the past here, including ones on the relevance of 80s Armani today, and how artists dress, here.
Mortimer House is the members club I’ve used as my office and refuge for the past five years. More details on that here.
In the film I am wearing my bespoke jacket from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in PS Plaid cashmere, which has just had a small restock - it's on the Joshua Ellis website now, although won't be shipping until the end of September.
I like this combination even better than the one it was first shown with - with black cords and loafers, rather than grey flannels. It becomes something with more of an evening feel, even with a denim shirt.
Film by Itch Media.
The State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022 will be held today. Her reign of over 70 years was one of dignity, resilience and compassion. She was held in extremely high by world leaders as evidenced by recent tributes and those from many others across the political, business communities and people around the world.
Today is Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom, to mark Her Majesty’s funeral, as we say goodbye to someone whose unique life story is one that is truly worthy of honouring and celebration.
Sorry, but what has that got to do with style?
For many, the monarchy is a political issue and I wouldn’t have thought politics is appropriate for discussion here.
Simon – I understand completely if you prefer not to publish this comment but given the nature of the coverage we’ve been subjected to in the last 10 days, it would be nice to still feel there are certain spaces where one can escape from it.
Yes I agree Alex. Thank you for the comment Stephen, but let’s keep this focused. It means everyone knows what they’re going to get, and it is more reliably interesting.
Simon, echoing Alex, I also appreciate that P.S. is a forum where politics are kept out as best as possible. I also appreciate knowing that a new article goes up every Monday, day, and Friday. Thank you.
Alex, it is Simon’s decision to publish or not
As to your points:
The monarchy is in fact apolitical.
Given we live in a free society no one has been subjected to anything.
In terms of relevance – I would suggest The Queen was the embodiment of style
That said if I have offended that was not my intention which would be unseemly on this day.
Thanks all, let’s leave it at that please. Whatever the politics, one of Her Majesty’s skills was certainly to rise above the fray, and bring more people together as a result.
Fascinating guy. I was reminded of the expression, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I certainly did not expect such a broad-ranging discussion, especially towards the end during the Q&A.
Thank you Simon for constantly fostering new perspectives and ideas.
An interesting and enjoyable conversation, although as I sit listening to the discussion in my grey New Balance Made In USA sweater, I felt particularly wounded by that remark.
Alex – My apologies for the slight – I also own and wear New Balance myself. I was using the brand as shorthand for a common look in menswear that often starts with a grey pair of NB991s. No wounds were intended!
All the best, Tony
Thanks, Tony. I had a bit of a cry in my pillow last night, but after a brisk walk and restorative bowl of udon I’m ready to move on!
Very stimulating. I remember , in my post punk,casual/suede head days, late 70s how important that slow osmosis of ideas was. Good point about the small numbers of influencers involved nowadays. Even in late 70s Manchester,there were several hundred like minded in my sub culture and we regularly engaged face to face at gigs, pubs,football etc.
We must have, but I don’t recall, that we took any external influences on dress – apart from music. In my option , music was a much greater influence ,in my youth, on my style than film ever was.
Nostalgia is dangerous mistress, but we were much more individual before the mass introduction of American sportswear .
I think that’s probably true of most people growing up in the 60s/70s. It probably wasn’t until the 80s and the rise of hyper-stylised film/TV/music videos that the landscape of influence shifted to those media, and which has come back around for recycling and regurgitation in the last decade.
Maybe somewhat off-topic, but is the shirt you are wearing a very light-grey and, if so, has it proved versatile? Ever since I saw a grey shirt on Obama (plus suit) on one of his more recent interviews, I am thinking about buying one in addition to my usual white, light blue and light pink dress shirts.
It’s not I’m afraid, it’s a pale denim. I do like grey shirts on occasion though – so examples here and here
Any more information regarding that beautiful pale denim shirt would be appreciated. Thank you.
Sure – it’s in Indiolino linen from Thomas Mason, made by Luca Avitabile. I’m not sure Thomas Mason offer it anymore though unfortunately.
What a nice and interesting discussion between two very nice chaps. What a warm character Tony is! It would have been nice if someone had asked how Turbonegro’s onstage persona affected offstage Tony Sylvester and whether it had any effect on his sartorial trip.
For the rest, I am just jealous that these nice events only occur in London or NY. I think that I not only speak for myself when I say that I would appreciate such events on the Continent.
Thanks P.F. – thanks for the comment.
Interesting question on the relationship between stage wear and day wear.
When I first joined the band, I pressed into service some of the items from my own wardrobe that I thought would be simpatico with the band’s look: denim, boots, a Greek fisherman’s cap etc. But over the decade I was with the band, the look became more stylised and more reflective of our collaboration and things were commissioned or bought specifically for the onstage character.
The main influence remained the iconography of Tom Of Finland, but the newer inspirations were from the world of 70s cinema; in particular Rollerball, A Clockwork Orange, Cruising and especially the gangs of The Warriors.
It was helpful to be able to “put on” the persona when you put on the costume, as it were.
I am a new reader recently joined your community. I am now reaching to a point in life that i care more about the quality of garment than the logo or brand. Your style is impeccable and i resonate a lot of your POV on fashion and style.
Recently I am interested in corduroy pants; do you have any suggestions where to get some good quality pairs and if you can only have 3 colours in your collection for corduroy pants, what would you suggest?
Hi there, nice to have you.
We don’t cover ready-made trousers that much, though there will be an article soon rounding up the best options online. In terms of colours, I’d go for a dark olive or dark brown, followed by a mid- or dark grey.
If you search around the website for corduroy, you’ll see lots of examples to give you ideas.
If you have any follow-up questions on any of those articles, feel free to ask there.
Thank you so much Simon for your reply and glad to see the colour suggestions are very much in line with what I was thinking.
I would love to get bespoke or MTM pants however where I live (Sydney, Australia) I found it is quite difficult to access custom made services (we do have a some suit tailors but they only make suits). If anyone knows any here please do share.
Some online Ready to wear suggestions will definitely be handy!
No worries, and good to know RZ. Manish is working on that piece and hopefully it will be ready soon
Out of my head Natalino, Cordings, and Oscar Jacobson all have nice corduroy pants in different styles, but they are indeed quite ubiquituous these days.
Hi Simon, I wanted to offer a suggestion that it might be helpful with a longer video like this to have references to individual segments for topics of interest. Considering that the video is served from YouTube, it would be great to even have links to specific time marks. For example, you highlighted that the question for why logos can look better on some clothes is touched upon in the discussion, and it would be great to know that I should skip to 13:10 into the video (I made that up, I actually have no idea where it is since I didn’t actually go through the video), while the comments on French men will be at 35:25 (again, made up).
I’m a regular of PS throughout the week, and each day an article come out I’ll know I’ll probably squeeze in 10 minutes on an article that evening. Seeing an hour long video means I’ll probably leave it open in a browser tab yet never get back to watching it later in the week, despite knowing there’s going to be interesting content. It would be great way to help the audience get value from part of the content that has had so much work put in rather than being completely missed.
Hope the suggestion is helpful!
Thank you Kenneth, that is interesting and helpful.
To be honest, I think it’s a problem with video in general – articles are so much easier to scan to find an appropriate section, and to go back to and find something you wanted to read again, as well. Both are reasons I generally prefer a written format. The reason we do video here is to give people a sense of the occasion.
I could put references to those segments in the video, but they might be referring to just 10 or 20 seconds, and giving a sense of the major things we talk about would mean 10 or 20 such links. I’m not sure how worth it it would be – would that many people only want to hear the bit about logos, and not the bit about subcultures in England? I’m not sure.
Do always let me know these views though, they are always helpful, as I’m often wrong about these things!
I fully support posting videos of any length. This gives live speech, understanding of communication and a sense of personal involvement. I really appreciate Simon’s work on the video. I always missed the video on the site and wanted more)
while the video does a bit of value, you could also make the audio available as well. then it would basically work like a podcast get you a bigger audience.
True, thanks Zo. I’m not sure posting the audio from the videos would generate that much of a new audience though. If I was going to do a podcast I’d want to do it properly.
Though if you wanted the audio, I think you could play the video on a phone and just listen to it without watching?
Hi Simon – what loafers are these? So elegant. And do you know of any places selling black cords this season? I cannot find them anywhere!
I don’t, sorry Michael. The loafers are black cordovan Belgravia loafers from Edward Green
Thanks Simon. Where can one buy the Belgravia in black cordovan? I can’t see it online anywhere. Unrelatedly – do tassel loafers pass your “bus stop” test?
They are a few years old, maybe EG don’t offer the style in RTW any more. Always available on MTO with them as well.
I find tassels do, yes. No one would notice them.
Thank you for sharing this video, Simon. What a fun and informative discussion between you, Tony, and the crowd. Cheers!
Tony if you read this, please write a book on Menswear at some point. You seem to have more keen insights on clothes than half the people in the industry. Even if it was just a small Zine like Nishiguchi’s Closet etc. I’d still buy it. I think you could easily do it if you wanted the challenge.
Couldn’t agree more JL…
Really enjoyed this!