After taking a break from my Menswear Insider Interviews, I decided that it would be about time to add a new feature. This time I am excited to feature an interview with Brian Sacawa, the founder and voice of one of my favorite menswear blogs, HeSpokeStyle dot com
Tie-a-Tie: Hi Brian, as a fan of your blog let me start off saying how excited I am to feature you as part of my Menswear Insider series. I read your bio and you have quite the impressive resume, including being a professional Saxophone player and elite cyclist. Now, what motivated you to start a menswear blog?
Brian: Honestly, I needed something to do! Let me explain. So, in addition to “retiring” from cycling two years ago, I’d also stopped running the music series I’d founded, so I was left with no extra-curricular projects in my life. I have trouble sitting still and menswear was something that had interested me for a while. I felt there was a bit of a void in the space and decided to add my voice.
Tie-a-Tie: Looking how far HeSpokeStyle has come, it is clear that you definitely haven’t been sitting still. You have been quoted saying that “I see many similarities between style and music”. Tell me more.
Brian: Both are forms of communication. Both are forms of art. Both are lifelong journeys.
Tie-a-Tie: Now, He Spoke Style is a success story on its own. But for every successful blog there are dozens that fail. If you could give an aspiring menswear blogger a single piece of advice, what would it be?
Brian: Do only what you love and are passionate about. Be a great writer. Post only original, high-quality content and artwork. Have a unique voice or point of view. Don’t worry about what other people are doing.
Tie-a-Tie: Tell me about your “first steps” as a blogger. Did you have any blogging experience before you started He Spoke Style?
Brian: I did, actually. When I was first building my career as a musician, a well-known music community website invited me to write for them. At first, I thought, nah, there’s no way, I don’t want to share my personal diary, and so on. But I did it and it was one of the best non-music-related career moves I could have made.
10 years ago, blogs weren’t as popular or ubiquitous as they are today and I was actually one of the very first “performer bloggers.” That put me in front of many influential critics and allowed me to show a different side of myself, beyond the musician that people would hear and see on stage. It also taught me that your fans are generally interested to know more about you. That’s a lesson I’ve been revisiting as HSS has continued to evolve.
Tie-a-Tie: That is great. It just highlights again how important it is to have a “unique voice” as you said earlier. Now, how has your blog changed/evolved since it has been launched?
Brian: We’ve been doing more lifestyle content to supplement our style posts. This has been a lot of fun and I’m glad that readers have responded so positively. Style isn’t just about the clothes you wear, but how you live your life, the complete package. It’s also been a great way to begin to explore more editorial content and to tell bigger stories.
We’re also doing more video. The Ask He Spoke Style series has been a really fun way to engage with readers and show them my personality beyond the photos we take. Definitely check out what’s new on the YouTube channel!
Tie-a-Tie: Without doubt, you are a creative person. Is there anyone or anything that inspires you?
Brian: People who are intelligent, passionate, and professional.
Brian: It may seem odd because I’m a menswear publication, but I get a lot of inspiration from female fashion blogs. Sites like The Glamourai, The Chriselle Factor, Gary Pepper Girl, Man Repeller, and Atlantic-Pacific are all so amazing in very different ways.
Tie-a-Tie: Now back to menswear/clothing for a second. If someone gave you $100 and said you could only buy one clothing item, what would it be?
Brian: A Biltwell Bonanza motorcycle helmet.
Tie-a-Tie: How about if it was $1,000?
Brian: Since fall is right around the corner, it would have to be this Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Plaid Chesterfield coat.
Tie-a-Tie: Tell me about your personal style. It is obvious that you know a lot about menswear. But on a day to day basis, are you more a jeans & T-shirt kind of guy or suit & tie?
Brian: Man, it really depends. On the weather, on the season, on my mood! I don’t have one particular go-to look, but regardless of whether it’s dapper or casual, I think it’s important to look put together. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, how you present yourself has a direct effect on the interactions you have with people. Tom Ford said, “dressing well is a form of good manners.” It also shows respect, in my opinion.
Tie-a-Tie: Without doubt, dressing well can only help. Surprisingly only few men take advantage of dressing well. Be it ignorance or poor laziness, which single men’s style faux pas bothers you the most and why?
Brian: Do I have to pick just one?! Okay, I really can’t stand the t-shirt (white or otherwise) showing under an unbuttoned button-up or polo. I understand the thinking–trying to squeeze a little more life out of a shirt between washed–but it looks terrible. When you’ve got your shirt open, it’s framing your face and the t-shirt just really messes that line up.
Tie-a-Tie: Where do you see the site headed over the next few years?
Brian: Great question. I’d really like to develop the creative side of what we do and tell bigger and broader stories. I’m a creative person and there is so much inside that I need to get out. And honestly, the only thing preventing us from exploring that direction more right now is time. Rob and I are both extremely busy and do our best to balance the blog, work, and life. My hope is that as HSS continues to grow, we’ll have the opportunity to more fully invest and immerse ourselves in more editorial content and projects.
Tie-a-Tie: Sounds like you may be hiring an intern? =) Joking aside, are you looking to hire someone to help grow your site? If so, what qualifications are you looking for?
Brian: Maybe somewhere down the line, but not right now. If and when that happens, this person would have to be extremely detail-oriented, a self-starter, and require little to no supervision to accomplish things. Ideally, this is someone whose work I’m already familiar with and respect.
Tie-a-Tie: Very well. Thanks for all the great insights. It was a pleasure. Best of luck to you!