The response to my infamous article, The Value of Influencers and the True Cost of Integrity, prompted me to investigate a content series that aimed to give a voice to the overlooked and undervalued voices of men’s style. Welcome to The Influence Authority.
Kicking off the series is Aidan Chappell, the man behind The Sartorial Journal, an online publication ‘for sartorialists by sartorialists’. In just over a year The Sartorial Journal has amassed a serious cohort of supporters and an equally impressive voice in the global menswear scene. Enjoy.
What is your game and how long have you been doing it?
I only started in January 2016, so I’m a relative newcomer.
In a broad sense, The Sartorial Journal deals with anything related to luxury menswear – specifically high-end tailoring, or ‘real’ tailoring if we are to call a spade a spade. I want to pay homage to brands and people with authenticity, charisma and expertise in their respective fields – people who reside at the pinnacle of their craft and deliver products of inconceivable quality. I guess the underlying aim is to cut through the nonsense and falsehoods being propagated by the now omnipresent ‘bloggers’ and ‘influencers’.
Why did you start The Sartorial Journal?
Initially, The Sartorial Journal was established as a way to drive traffic to a made-to-measure label I was operating at the time, but it found traction so quickly in the international menswear community that we never actually used The Sartorial Journal as it was initially intended. It’s one of those entirely serendipitous things that I’m now very happy about as it allowed us to grow into something much bigger.
What values do you place the most importance on when conducting your operation?
Without sounding too contrived, remaining true to my beliefs is the most important thing. While issues of ‘style’ are subjective, aspects of quality are not – you can discern a tangible level of quality in a garment, whereas issues of style come largely down to perception.
I am approached multiple times a day by people and brands whose products simply don’t align with this ethos. If I were to accept every collaboration, sure, I’d make a quick buck, but there would be no long game – my platform would be completely and utterly bastardised and devoid of any legitimacy. I’d become what I hate most – another mindless money-hungry blogger.
How do you feel about the market for menswear in Australia? How it’s perceived, promoted and how the consumer is educated (or lack thereof)?
I guess the menswear market in Australia is derivative of the broader culture – we’re heavily influenced by international tastes and typically follow suit of overseas ‘trends’.
In saying that, Australian menswear culture is growing as men are identifying with the idea of developing their own individual style. Thanks to the global economy and the proliferation of this culture across social media, information and inspiration is literally at our fingertips, and with an increasing number of brands building a presence in Australia, the menswear market is burgeoning.
The other side to that argument however, is that this cultural awakening has birthed a sea of perennial pests – bloggers – specifically those with zero understanding of the industries they promote. Similar to those parasitic network marketers who have sullied words like ‘entrepreneur’, men’s style bloggers have bastardised the industry through their misuse of words like ‘bespoke’, ’tailoring’ and ‘luxury’.
It’s an interesting time in menswear, but I think we’re on the right side of the trend now. With Australian brands like The Cloakroom and ZIMMA TAILORS growing in both national and international prominence, it’s a great sign for Australian menswear.
Whether you refer to yourself as an influencer of style or not, your brand promotes classic menswear through insightful, educational and passionate content. What does it mean to you to be an influencer?
You know me too well, James. I don’t like to think of myself as a ‘blogger’ or an ‘influencer’ in any way shape or form – instead, I prefer to think of The Sartorial Journal as a kind of online publication – I hope the quality of my work warrants that title.
It is a great honour to be deemed influential though. The hope is, that by being influential, I can deliver aspirational, inspirational and enlightening content to a greater number of people – all done through the lens of authenticity.
How does a new brand, selling a quality product or service cut through to find the right audience?
I wish I knew… If I were to attempt an answer, I’d make a fool of myself.
What tips can you give to readers who are exposed to endless amounts of content daily when looking for inspiration?
Throughout my schooling and university, I was always taught to never use Wikipedia as a trusted source of information because it often can’t be authenticated. The same goes for content surrounding menswear – only trust sources that have enough credibility to be recognised as ‘thought leaders’.
Sadly, this doesn’t always equate to trusting the Instagram account with the most followers or greatest engagement. Instead, it’s often the accounts who deliver value-driven, non-salesy content that is the most worthy of your trust.
What do men need to understand that they currently do not about your industry?
Some people preach ‘rules’ when it comes to style – there are none – some of the world’s most stylish men from bygone eras had their middle finger to convention. Instead of focusing on rules, attention is best directed to understanding the rationale behind things when it comes to clothing. The best clothing satisfies two things: function and form – clothes should deliver comfort, but also flatter your figure.
What inspires you and infuriates you?
I’m inspired by many different things. In menswear though, I’m inspired by the brands and people who conceive unique and exciting products – perhaps products that push or redefine boundaries. Wherever there’s a desire to be the best at something, I feel that’s admirable.
As has been made blatantly obvious by my lack of political correctness surrounding bloggers throughout this interview, I find a great number of #dapper #gentleman #influencers to be absolutely abhorrent and a blight on society – not just because I find them to be entirely lacking in taste and knowledge, but because they propagate such blatant untruths to the detriment of men everywhere. I am especially disenchanted with this air of pretension surrounding the menswear blogosphere – whilst suiting can certainly be aspirational, it should never be associated with elitist snobbery.
Similarly, I despise the insidious #custom #menswear farce that has plagued Australia. News flash, that $399 #bespoke suit you’re selling is in fact not bespoke – it’s an insipid piece of glue-filled trash that isn’t even made from wool, let alone the Italian wool you claimed it was cut from.
What does it mean to have integrity?
For me in this industry I think it comes down to two things; don’t preach about something you know nothing about and; don’t sell your soul for money. Anything else is a disservice to mankind and stagnates our evolution.
Any final thoughts you can share?
Menswear is rich in both the tangible and intangible – it’s a matter of deciding where you perceive value. Higher price doesn’t always equate to higher quality, just as paying a lower price isn’t always worth it.
Thanks to Aidan Chappell for his insight and stay tuned for the next instalment of The Influence Authority.