Text by Simon Crompton / Mark Cho / Photo by Mark Cho
Can you give a brief history of your blog?
Permanent Style started 10 years ago as an exploration of quality in tailoring. I was buying my first expensive suit and wanted to know what I was spending my money on.
To a certain extent, that's still what I do: my latest book, The Finest Menswear in the World, is an examination of quality in all areas of menswear. The difference now is that I'm able to tour the world and see the factories myself, rather than just surreptitiously looking at stitching in high-street shops.
In those 10 years the blog has grown enormously - which has been very satisfying, if a little bewildering. We have our own events, books, products. Every day men say they find the writing inspiring, which is probably the nicest aspect.
What do you prefer, Italian or British tailoring?
I don't have a preference really. Each has its place in different lifestyles. English tailoring will always look stronger, sharper, more dashing. I'd always wear an English suit to a big meeting; I'd never have an Italian tuxedo.
But the various forms of Italian tailoring fit better into most lives today - it's soft and malleable, easy to wear and not too formal. I still hear Savile Row tailors recommend these structured tweed jackets 'For the weekend, Sir' and it baffles me. Do they really think that level of structure works with casual shirts and jeans? It doesn't even look good without a tie.
Sometimes, I feel the "rules" are used more to beat people over the head than as guidelines to understand aesthetics. What do you think?
I agree - that's certainly how they're used, which is a shame. I guess men do it because rules are easy to understand and latch onto. Style isn't easy, and rules provide a refuge.
Style rules are like rules for good writing. They all contain an element of truth, but none are absolutes. There's a reason your English teacher told you never to start a sentence with 'and'. But that doesn't mean great writers don't do it.
I think the best quote on this is from Picasso: "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
How do you feel about the comments you receive to your blog posts? Do you feel there is good discussion developing? Do people nitpick? Do you feel motivated when receiving very positive comments? Disappointed with negative comments?
Good question. I've always liked receiving comments because it gives me an immediate connection to readers. It means I know what they want to read and what they don't - like any good product design, if you only develop in reaction to customers, you can't go far wrong.
The commenters also live in something of a benevolent dictatorship. I only publish things that are substantial - that provide useful information to others. If people just say they like a product, I'll push them to specify why. If two readers get in an argument, I'll cut it off quickly.
And I try to direct people to comment on relevant posts, so that their questions and experiences do build up a reference source over time. I love how many people come across old posts (God bless Google), read it and all the comments, and then either add their recent experiences or ask a new question. It's not quite a Wiki, but it's not far off.