As some of you may have noticed, every single Icons of Style article that I have written features someone with a connection to Great Britain. Every single interviewee has been either born in the UK or is currently living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the sole exception being someone from New England. Well, it’s time to break this British monopoly and we’re doing it in style with Michel, better known as @Volvo_Sufu or volvo240thebest on Superfuture.*
The surprises continue because not only is Volvo Italian, but he also wears a lot of double denim. You may be curious how someone who wears so much double denim would be featured on my series about style when I have repeatedly demonstrated my distaste for double denim in a similar way to how the Cleveland Browns repeatedly show their distaste for winning football games and Pizza Hut continuously shows their distaste for making real pizza. However, what I have rarely revealed is the fact that I do actually believe that double denim does look good sometimes. In fact, there are certain people that I think regularly pull off double denim and in my opinion, nobody does it better than Volvo.
Part of this is the fact that he truly commits to his clothing, especially his jeans and gets incredible fades out of both his jeans and jackets. Part of it is because even when he does wear double denim, it is often part of a layering ensemble, with the denim jacket under another jacket or under a vest. He gets quite create with his double denim fits. Thirdly, his look is just so casual that double denim works for him. Volvo’s fits look like he just threw on whatever was lying around with no thought given, yet it always works. I know a lot of more mainstream style articles overuse the term “effortless,” but trust me when I say that to me, Volvo does effortless better than anyone in the Amekaji/Heritage scene in my opinion.
Something else that I love about his style is that aside from a pair of engineer boots vintage cut jeans, and crew neck sweatshirts, he wears almost nothing that I would personally wear. Colorful watch caps, Vans sneakers, a bright orange parka, fleece jackets, moccasin toe shoes, and graphic t shirts are all not for me, but I love how they look on him and I know that I will never be able to look as casual and effortless as he does. He definitely has a style that I admire greatly even if I would not try to replicate it, so let’s hear from him now.
Almost Vintage Style: When and how did you get into raw denim, boots, and quality clothing?
Volvo: In 2009 I bought my first pair of selvedge jeans (by Edwin) in Germany. I remember the flasher of the jeans said to not wash the jeans at least for the first six months of wear. A google research about how to wash jeans landed me on Superfuture, I lurked there for a good couple years before actually joined the forum as an active user in 2011 or 2012. By the way I didn’t wash that first pair for one year I think, the jeans were so dirty that even after multiple washes they still were filthy. That was the first and last time I did hold on washes for more than a couple months.
AVS: When and how did style become important to you (was this tied in any way to heritage menswear)?
Volvo: I have always been interested in clothes, since a I was a kid. The first piece of clothing that I actually bought on my own was a pair of Levi’s 501, I was 13 and I still remember pretty well that day. I wore that pair for years and I still have them. I also remember quite well the day I bought my first pair of selvedge jeans, that was in 1997, the jeans were some prefaded Lee cinchback model with the typical half selvedge id. I wore those jeans for years until I completely destroyed them. I still have them as well.
AVS: Who or what influences and inspires your style?
Volvo: I enjoy quite a big variety of styles, from straight on denim/americana, to Ivy style, military style, French/English work clothes as well. I love to take inspiration for certain fits from films, or from iconic photos from the 50s and 60s. I love the style of Dustin Hoffman in The Laureate, or Jack Nicholson in Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest, Miles Davis looking snazzy in Ivy stile clothes during the 60s, Marvin Gaye lookin fly in double denim and orange beanie in the 70s etc etc. I draw much of my inspiration from instagram and fellow denim for a users these days too.
AVS: How would you describe your personal style?
Volvo: I have no idea, haha! You can describe it better than me probably.
A middle aged Italian denim nerd that takes selfies of his outfits in the back alley of his home in the countryside and shares them on the internet?
AVS: How important is color and fabric/texture to your outfits?
Volvo: It’s everything! Seriously, if I shift my attention from denim, matching different colours, textures, patterns and different volumes it is what defines style to me. I am obsessed by matching leather colours, probably in an unhealthy way too. It bothers me tremendously to wear boots and belts/watch straps that don’t match in a way that I like.
I love to wear double denim and I think it works really nicely when there is enough contrast between tops and bottoms (e.g. a dark denim jacket and a well faded pair of jeans).
AVS: Do you have a favorite season for clothing and why?
Volvo: My favourite seasons are autumn and spring, beacause I can wear some of my beloved denim jacket as an outer layer. Where I live in Italy during summer is way too hot for denim jackets, and during winter I can only wear them under heavier coats, but some of my favourite pieces don’t work as a layer.
AVS: What is your favorite/signature piece of clothing?
Volvo: I think my first pair of Tcb 60s, they were my first introduction to high quality japanese repro denim, I wore them A LOT (and I still do now after seven years and many many repairs).
They also were the pair of jeans that witnessed the birth of my daughter!
AVS: Do you have a favorite category of clothing (boots, chinos, t shirts, etc) and why?
Volvo: Definitely jeans, I just love to geek over details, appreciate the fabric feel and evolution over the years and last but not least I grow sentimentally attached to them much more than with other different garments. I do enjoy to keep repairing them and never retire them. I have at least three pair of jeans on which I spent much more than their retail value in repairs, just to keep them structurally sound and wearable for as long as possible.
AVS: What is your favorite clothing brand and why?
Volvo: My favourite clothing brand is most definitely TCB. TCB is a small factory brand from Kurashiki in the Okayama prefecture of Japan. They’re specialized on reproduction of workwear from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. I bought my first pair of TCB jeans in 2012, just a couple of months after the brand was created. I believe I’ve been one of their very first overseas customers. Since then I’ve become quite a fan of the brand and also a friend of the founder of TCB Hajime Inoue. Through my enthusiasm and sharing evo and fit pics of all my TCB jeans and jackets I think I’ve helped the brand to spread a bit outside of Japan.
I always had a very positive relation with the founder of the brand Hajime Inoue, and even if we haven´t yet met in real life I consider him a friend. Tcb really embodies what I love about denim, they primarily focus is to reproduce the fit, feel and overall vibe of vintage denim from the golden era (20s to late 60s). Hajime is a vintage sewing machine nerd and expert, I like that the CEO of this small company still works behind the sewing machine. I love the honest feel of their clothes. I also like the fact that they make everything in house, and I believe their price to value ratio is very hard to beat.
AVS:Are there any items that you are looking to purchase soon or are on your wish list?
Volvo: Always haha! I have an issue with my clothes acquisition syndrome unfortunately. Here’s a little list for your fine perusal haha!
Jackets: I want to find the perfect burnt orange vintage Sierra Designs down parka. I also want to try one chore coat by French brand Le Laboreur, ove the euro vibe they have.
Denim: a pair of Warehouse 1001xx, Tcb catboy (Lee repro).
Shoes: more Paraboot Michael, and a pair of Russell triple vamped chukka moccasins in rough out.
Tops: more old Warehouse sweatshirts, I always look for second hand ones on Yahoo.jp. Some of their older graphics were incredible.
Accessories: a pair of Moscot glasses, some Rototo socks.
AVS: Describe your favorite outfit that you have worn or plan on wearing.
Volvo: Cream coloured beanie, Sierra designs bright orange 60/40 parka, a vintage warehouse oatmeal sweatshirt under a tcb 60s jacket, tcb 50s jeans, Paraboot Michael. Bombproof!
AVS: Are there any other people in or out of the denim/heritage menswear community that you think have great style?
Volvo: Instagram has been a massive style inspiration in the last few years, and really boosted my interest in fits. Most of my personal style idols are random dudes that like me don’t take their passion for clothes too seriously and don’t even have a significant following on instagram.
I admire a lot @pulpdenim, I like how vibey and different his fits are and I like his mixture of vintage and repro pieces, I also like the fact that while being a devoted denimhead his fits are often very colourful.
Another guy whose style inspires me is @charlie.dontsurf, he’s amazing at recreating that late Ivy style vibe from the 70s (think about Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate) and mixing it up with vintage outdoor style pieces and denim. His sense of colour is very inspiring too.
Another Instagram account that I do enormously enjoy to follow is @ta_yuuko, a cute Japanese mom with an obsession for vintage americana from 50s to 90s. I like her taste in mixing different volumes, colours and textures, the way she wears vintage Patagonia fleeces and most of all I love the matching outfits with her kids.
@nei.nor is another guy gifted with an amazing, highly individual style. I do enjoy his sense of colour, the variety of his style inspirations and last but not least his sense of humour.
AVS: What separates your style from that of the average denim head?
Volvo: It’s a nice question to be honest. I hope I won’t sound rude. I am not obsessed with sheer quality and excellence of workmanship as others are. I like my clothes to express a certain vibe, and often I find I don’t need to have the absolute best to satisfy my hunt for a vibe. I also feel guilty when spending the big bucks on clothes so apart from denim I often buy vintage/second hand or Taobao clothes rather than top tier brands.
AVS: You wear quite a lot of double denim, what about double denim do you like so much/why do you like wearing it so much?
Volvo: I think here in Europe wearing double denim it’s not seen as a faux pas as much as in USA or Canada, it’s not the kind of outfit that an average Joe from the countryside would
wear. I like it because it embodies my love for denim.
AVS: Do you think there are “better” ways to wear double denim or anything that makes double
denim look better or worse?
Volvo: The best way to wear the tux it’s just embrace the look with self confidence. A little variation in
colour and/or fabric texture between top and bottom helps to make it look better,too.
A big thanks to Volvo for doing this interview and giving some great insight into what makes his style so wonderful and unique. His commitment to continuously wearing his jeans and jackets as well as his devotion to “vibe” before absolute quality help make his style what it is. Make sure to follow him @volvo_sufu if you do not already, or join Superfuture and talk to him there.
*Yes, his online handle is inspired by the car company. He really likes Volvo vehicles, specifically the 240 wagon.
All pictures via Volvo himself.