Having good taste and impeccable style doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes learning from the best in the industry to truly perfect dressing like a fashion-forward, modern man. Welcome to our series, “How to Be Stylish,” where we pick the brains of some of the most respected figures in fashion for their ultimate style tips.
Dress shirt, slacks, tie, and brogues: Your work week attire is so blah. When the weekend finally arrives, you barely have enough style inspiration to scheme up the ultimate off-duty ensemble. Stocked with cool field jackets, athleisure-approved sweats, and polished sweatshirts, Jon Ruti’s Rivay is the one-stop-brand for all your out of office fashion desires. But Ruti is not your typical creative director: Up until last year, when the brand was founded, he spent his days as a prosecutor. In this installment of “How to Be Stylish,” we chat with Ruti about off-duty style and how guys with a nine-to-five job can transition into the fashion industry.
The Cheat Sheet: What’s the one thing every stylish, modern man should invest in?
Jon Ruti: A well-made piece of outerwear. It’s the anchor of a man’s closet, a piece he will reach for time and time again. Outerwear is versatile: It goes with everything in your existing wardrobe, and, when layered properly, it can take you through all four seasons. The best part [is that] good outerwear gets better with age.
CS: Whether getting dressed yourself or leading the Rivay team, what’s the one style rule you always follow?
JR: Keep it simple. We don’t like things to be fussy at Rivay. All of our pieces need to look natural in any environment. Choose the best fabric and make [sure] it fits well. Those are the guiding principles in every design.
CS: With so many emerging menswear brands and designers out there, what separates Rivay from the others?
We understand who we are and more importantly who our customer is. We never deviate from serving those two. A brand can’t be everything to everyone. That’s a mistake we see time and time again with new and existing brands. We have a very distinct vision and we keep to it.
CS: What are five things that every modern man needs in his closet?
JR: That great piece of outerwear, broken-in denim, a woven shirt made from a really nice cotton or linen, nice fitting pair of chinos, and a nice pair of English oxfords or brogues.
CS: There seems to be a major emphasis on travel and adventure within the Rivay brand — that sense of a man being able to wear something to work as well as the weekend. How does this influence your designs?
JR: I always felt there was a disconnect between what I wore to work and what I wore during the 48 hours after the work week. The collection began by attempting to bridge that gap. We found that the best way to do that – to make clothes that could carry our customer from the office to adventure and back again – was to use traditional fabrics that were cut and constructed in a modern way. This became one of the cornerstones of our design process – a requirement that if a design doesn’t look natural leaving the office, venturing into some type of 48 hour micro-adventure, and returning, we don’t develop it.
CS: What’s so interesting about your story is that you used to work in law! What advice do you have for our readers who’d like to know more about fashion? How should they go about that process?
JR: If you want to know more about fashion as business, there are some great daily’s that can give you that foundation (Business of Fashion, MR-Mag, etc.) These will get you in the ballpark. From there, meet with people who are in the industry – reach out, offer to buy a round in exchange to pick someone’s brain. I am still amazed at how many people are just open books. I love sitting down over a beer and learning about new industries. The more people you meet with, the more inspired you’ll become.
When going about the process, just be honest and genuine. “Hey, my name’s Jon, I’m a lawyer but looking to make a transition into another career – could I pick your brain for 20 over a cup of coffee? Have any time this week?” Boom. If someone blows you off from that email – you didn’t want to meet with them anyway. But learn the art of delicate persistence – stay on someone’s radar without being a pest. If you’re truly passionate about this industry, others will see that and reciprocate. And always send handwritten thank you cards. Always.
CS: Where do you see Rivay five years from now?
JR: Right now we’re taking it day by day, focusing on consistency, efficiency, and being as disciplined as possible. We’ll continue to make the best product possible and keep everything on brand for Rivay. We’re all very excited for the future.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs