Raphael is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Gentleman’s Gazette, an online platform that covers classic men’s fashion and lifestyle and has evolved to include Fort Belvedere (a men’s accessories line) and a business consulting service. We are inspired by a thirst for knowledge and a vision for success. Read his story below. Enjoy!
Genteel Flair: What is most significant to you about the platform/audience Gentleman’s Gazette commands?
Sven Raphael Schneider: We are proud of the fact so many people find our content interesting and enjoyable to read. When I started Gentleman’s Gazette, I felt there was a real gap in men’s fashion coverage online, and we sought to fill that space with in-depth coverage of classic men’s fashion that went beyond simply what I am wearing that day. We wanted to cover all aspects of classic style, from the history of certain garments, to where to find them today.
I want to help interested men learn more about classic style, get the most out of their wardrobe, and show why quality matters. A classic, quality wardrobe can truly serve a man well for a lifetime; it transcends and yet moves with the trends and keeps the owner prepared for every social situation. It is significant to me that I can use Gentleman’s Gazette as a platform to empower men to find their style in a way that resonates with men of all ages, and share the history that is slipping away from the industry. Furthermore, it is significant that we get to be part of the dialogue about what it means to be a gentleman in this day in age. Its no longer solely a term for those of wealth and status. Yes, a gentleman should have good style, but they should also interested in the world around them. Savoir vivre, or living well, is the category in which we cover subjects about living well no matter your budget.
GF: Do you maintain it all by yourself?
SRS: No, I don’t maintain it all by myself, and there is no reason one should. I am an expert on classic men’s clothing and accessories, and I beyond that it made sense to hire help in all the other areas in which I am not an expert. First I hired a bookkeeper and accountant, and second, I hired writers who had unique subject matter expertise. I like to drink wine and I enjoy architecture, but that does not mean I should write about wine and architecture, so I added a range of writers to the team.
GF: When you began your journey, who served as your biggest influences?
SRS: When I started the Gentleman’s Gazette in 2010, it was my hobby. I had collected more 500 books about classic men’s clothing, crafts and style along with hundreds of magazines and thousands of pictures. I read other blogs and style or clothing related forums, but none of them were complete in my mind, and so I decided to create my own. Overall, I was more influenced by the books and content I collected over the years than by any existing website or person at the time.
GF: Who serves as your biggest supporter and how?
SRS: Our readers are our biggest supporters – without them we are nothing. It is always important for me to create content that is useful, reviews that are honest and to provide products that are good, because a happy reader comes back and if we are really good he may even recommend us to a friend. Of course, I also have a great team that supports me but most importantly, it is my wife Teresa who is an integral part of the Gentleman’s Gazette.
GF: What is one book that changed your viewpoint on menswear?
SRS: It was the Lexikon der Herrenmode (Encyclopedia of Men’s Fashion) by Baron von Eelking, because it showed me that there was so much more and better information than what we considered to be the standard of men’s clothing. People like Bernhard Roetzel and Alan Flusser really helped hundreds of thousands of men to dress better with classic style, and I really admire them for that. At the same time, their books weren’t as comprehensive as books and magazines others had written before.
GF: How did you begin your accessory line? What was the most difficult task in developing it?
SRS: We received many questions from our readers about specific items mentioned in our articles, and I often had to tell them it was a vintage piece and therefore had no reliable source. So, the starting point was the demand from our readers. I always wanted to create a quality product, so that was our #1 priority. Second, we wanted to provide a good value and classic items with enduring style. The most difficult task was getting it all together so it worked seamlessly – products, packaging, web development, etc.
GF: How would you describe your style?
SRS: Classic, elegant and variable with a dash of color and 1930’s inspiration.
GF: How has your educational/family background contributed to where you are now?
SRS: My parents did not care too much for fashion. My dad always had his ties pre-tied at the local haberdashery. By the time I went to law school, I had already developed my style so my education had no noteworthy influence either.
GF: What would you like to see from The Gentleman’s Gazette by the end of this year (both as a platform and a business)?
SRS: We are working on a few prototypes for new products. We launched another eBook,and I would like to add more contributors and build a larger team. Also, I would like to begin producing more video series to compliment our written content.
GF: How do you plan to expand in the (distant) future?
SRS: I have so many pictures, illustrations, trade magazines, books etc. that I could come up with article content for years to come rather easily, so I will look to other mediums for expansion. I can see expanding to cover more lifestyle categories and maybe provide seminars and workshops for people to learn about how to be a gentleman in the modern sense of the word. That includes having good style, but it also means behaving like one in terms of etiquette, having a basic understanding of music and art, etc. In regard to Fort Belvedere, I want to expand the product portfolio.
GF: Where do you think menswear is heading in the next 2-3 years?
SRS: On a grand scale, I think we’re going to see a lot of athletic wear. In regard to classic men’s clothing, jackets have come very short and narrow. I think things are going to be cut a little fuller again, and jackets may become a little longer. Luca Rubinacci has worn full cut trousers more often recently, and I think that reflects how history has moved with the trends. The cuts we have in our suits now are much more similar to the late 1910s to early 1920s than the 1930s. Lapels get wider and then slimmer again. Jackets have 1, 2, 3 or 4 buttons and then 3,2,1 button again – nothing is really new – it’s just an evolution.
GF: When you examine the industry as a whole, what don’t you see enough of?
SRS: Use of heavy fabrics, for one. There is a tendency towards lighter fabrics and the downside is that they wrinkle very easily. Unfortunately, clothing manufacturers are using just a fraction of fabric patterns available compared to 50 years ago, which isn’t very interesting. I would like to see heavier fabrics with more interesting patterns and textures. Considering that the finishing of fabric is much better today, the weavers could create remarkable cloth. Fur is underutilized in men’s fall/winter clothing. Also, it seems to me that right now there are a lot of woven ties around in all kinds of colors but very few have a real ancient madder print tie or peccary gloves in chamois yellow and gray, that’s part of the reason why we started Fort Belvedere as a brand, to provide these rare things that are difficult or impossible to find otherwise.
The Gentleman’s Gazette is the gathering place for people interested in classic men’s clothing, style and savoir vivre. Sign up for their free email newsletter to receive their e-book ‘Gentlemen of Style’. Follow them on Twitter for more updates.