Our Guiding Design & Style Principles: Pillars of Style
Aklasu's Pillars of Style guide our curated collections and are the elementary principles we follow to achieve understatement, class and sophistication.
May 11, 2019
Written by Mensah Aklasu
Fundamental aesthetic theories have existed for thousands of years throughout fields of art and design, shaping objective perceptions of beauty. In today’s world, mass marketing and production have created an ever-shifting landscape for what we as a global community call 'style.' But in spite of the changes, basic structures persist for those who embrace subtlety and class. These core elements of taste inform AKLASU’s Pillars of Style.
Even without further adornment, the human form exemplifies good design. That being said, clothing should honour the body’s beauty, just as it has inspired artistic and musical masterpieces. Our first pillar is fit, a notion captured by Sid Mashburn. When asked what would be in style next year, he replied, “Clothing that fits,” explaining that it would also be true for the following year. Mashburn’s statement reflects AKLASU’s aims. Clothing should complement the frame, draping along the body and never pinching or loose. It should move with your form rather than tugging against it, affording a full range of motion. Nothing works better than a gentle taper, acknowledging the body’s curved lines without compromising the slightly rigid edges requisite for masculine dress.
Crucial to presentation and intimately tied to fit is the interaction of elements within an ensemble. Proportion defines this interaction, as the relative sizes of constituents contribute to the whole. Proportion can be divided into sections across the body: for the torso of a suit, the coordination of a collar spread, tie knot, and lapel width; for the leg, the interplay of pant break, leg opening circumference, and shoe height. These factors play integral roles in the overall accomplishment of a certain ‘look’ and relay not only a man’s style, but the education behind it.
His education contributes to a sense of nuance. This sense engenders a keen view of the interplay of aspects that some sharp eyes acknowledge, but often only the man himself notes. Intricacies denote care, whether in subtle pick stitching, a particular gorge angle, or an accent colour. The details make the difference and separate one man’s style from the next.
Hues are both complimentary and complementary. Certain colours may work well together in theory, but may not be the best combination for an individual. Dressing is a visual art, and the proper palette creates harmony between potency and panache.
Despite being critical to the visual experience, patterns can create chaos. The mind rejects what it cannot organize, making logical structure paramount. Developing patterns is an exercise in balancing the appetite, requiring elements of visual interest to be presented in an orderly format. Repeating a subtle pattern in the tie and pocket square can be under-stimulating, just as two ‘loud’ patterns in the aforementioned areas scream ‘over-done.’ Yet a subtle pattern creates the desired effect: not ostentatious, but undeniably noticeable.
Simplicity is beautiful. The Japanese adhere to kanso, the elimination of all non-essentials. The Italian aesthetic embraces sprezzatura, an elegant nonchalance described by Luciano Barbera:
A man must face the world with sprezzatura. It literally means detachment, but a better way to think of it is quiet confidence or low-key style. The most forceful statement is understatement.
Sprezzatura and kanso are conveyed through clear, functional design. Both refer not only to a mode of dress, but also to a way of living. At AKLASU, that ‘understatement’ is a stalwart of our philosophy. It is the curated look, tightly edited yet freely expressed, appealing without distracting. It is balanced asymmetry. Confidence emanates from that look, conveying refinement and cultured chic. It makes for timeless style, steadfast through changing fads and trends. This is what it means to look good, always.