Suit Up or Die Magazine #1 - A look at how fashion, art and aesthetics are transformed by the online revolution

THE MODERN CLASSICIST

Plus New York City. The New Steve McQueen. Plastic & Walnut. And Much More

A Change Is Coming

The internet is a rapidly changing game. It used to be just another channel for getting material out there. No more. The time has come to use all of that amazing potential embedded in the web. We mean, really use it.

So, what exactly are we trying to establish here? Well, let's say that turning every unturned stone in online publishing is a starting point. We reason that, since we are online (and online only), we neither have to nor want to limit ourselves to run-of-the-mill operations.

In 2012, the internet is on your screen, in your pocket and most everywhere else you look. Why shouldn't the advantages it brings have an impact on the media that you read?

This is us trying out new things.

Can you recall the early days of the web? That was a time when magazines that were bold enough to go online usually didn't bother to do much more than post their offline content on a homepage.

We thought we'd elaborate on that concept, and make something a little more future-oriented. Suit Up or Die is the (very polygamous) marriage between a communication philosophy and practice, a visual impression and an outstanding technical platform. All still very influenced by our pithy credo low-key classy. Questions?

As you scroll down you will see how we envision the future. It's part new and part old, it doesn't jump out at you, but it doesn't pass like a ship in the night either. It's brand new, but it still recognizable enough to be relevant.

That's where we stand now. By necessity, we've taken an experimental approach to it. So essentially, this is us trying out new things. We're doing it for your benefit as much as our own, because we realize that you are as important as oxygen to us. Your support is our air supply.

A change is coming. Online publishing has so much more potential, and this is proof of that.

Open your mind and senses to how a modern online magazine can look.

by @Oscarsvenang

The modern classicist

There are people who live their lives being creative. We met one such man and got him talking about growing up a Beatle-maniac in the 1960s Soviet Union and collage art and a couple of other things. Meet artist and fashion aficionado, not forgetting internet icon, Sergei Sviatchenko

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If Sergei Sviatchenko’s life had been the subject of a John le Carré novel, it would have been entitled “Artist, Architect, Photographer, Father.” Sergei would have played all four roles. As we reveal here, he is somewhat reluctant to accept one of these labels, but warmly embraces the other three.

A child of the 1950s Ukraine, Sergei Sviatchenko came to Denmark at the beginning of the nineties. Three years ago he started taking avant-garde pictures for an art project, and posted the pictures online. His Close Up and Private (CUAP) project has since been the subject of massive attention, especially from a fashion interested online community, and who is not online these days?

Sergei Sviatchenko is the talk of the town because of his innovative way of forging a bond between the worlds of collage art, fashion photography and online exposure. Suit Up or Die met him in Copenhagen to discuss that and other facets of life.

What inspired you to create CUAP in the first place?
"Well, I like clothes, and I’ve liked fashion all my life. Maybe it was the idea of reflecting my personal interpretation of style, of clothes that I’ve worn for a long time. Another factor is that I’ve worked with collages for a long time, and I’m well established as a collage artist. I participate in different international exhibits."

"The special technique that I use when doing paper collage work, I thought, would be interesting to apply to clothes instead. I want to convey exactly the same feeling, but use clothes instead of paper and scissors. I am lucky to have my son, Erik, to work with."

Sergei is proud of his family and talks enthusiastically about his three children, describing himself as much a friend as a father to them. All three have been photographed for CUAP, but Erik, the promising 19-year-old footballer from FC Midtjylland, is the model for 99 percent of the CUAP material.

"Still, Erik doesn’t necessarily have the CUAP style; he’s only 19. But if he trusts me, if I put my stuff on him and put it on the internet, it seems to work."

There must be a certain dynamic to working with your son. Is it easier to work with him than a model that you come across on the streets of your home town or hire from an agency?

Sergei Sviachenco

"Well, first of all CUAP is a private project, so it is natural that I work with someone close to me, like a family member. It is also very important when I photograph people that I have a lot of sympathy for them. When I started CUAP I decided that it would be based completely on dogma principles. I take the pictures with a compact Leica, with no extra lighting, against a white wall. Nothing more. Those are the principles that I want to work under."

You never use a larger camera?
"No, never. I’m not a photographer. I am an artist. It’s easier for me to take pictures with a small camera."

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I take the pictures with a compact Leica, with no extra lighting, against a white wall. Nothing more.
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So CUAP is more of an art project than a fashion project?
"It’s an art project, yes, which I swung in the direction of fashion."

Then you wouldn’t call yourself a fashion photographer?
"No, not at all. I’m glad that all the blogs and magazines that mention me understand that. They call me architect and artist Sergei Sviatchenko, who runs the CUAP project, and I’m happy with that."

Still, it is interesting to think about what Sergei Sviatchenko is doing when he combines his interest in fashion with his artistry and runs it through a relatively new channel, the blog world. Although he y not be the conventional fashion photographer, his experimental approach has without doubt challenged the world of fashion photography.

Are there any plans on going deeper into fashion itself? Do you feel that there always has to be an element of art?
"Well, right now I’m creating a new series of collages, which are pure art, but with fashion elements that I’ve shifted over. The idea is that I, inspired by my collage work, start with a pure photography and treat it in a collage way."

"That means that I cut it and transfer it to pure collage, but retain elements of clothes and fashion and style. I’m very excited about this new series, which I call Less Close Up and Private. I’m ready to show that to the world now."

Danish men’s magazine Euroman named Sergei Sviatchenko the best dressed man in Denmark in 2010 and then recruited him as a style blogger.

How did they get to know about you?
"Well, I live in town of 60 000 people, and I dress in my own style every day. It’s part of my identity. In Copenhagen people sometimes stop me to take pictures, and in that context Euroman noticed me at a fair. As I am interested in fashion, I have a lot of friends in the business, directors of stores and so on, so I am visible. I am also a buyer. Those factors probably increased my chances of being spotted, but I would say that it was above all a coincidence."

On the CUAP website, Sergei Sviatchenko has posted a list of statements about fashion, a kind of non-compelling manifesto, which he calls “Etiquette for the Modern Classicist.” It deals with what he perceives to be the fundamentals of classy dressing.

Many of the style cues on the list have a certain air of timelessness about them, and some would be recognized as very of-the-moment in men’s fashion. Sergei lists brogues, oxford shirts, khakis and a solid vintage watch as classics that men ought to revisit.

The clothing style that is reflected on CUAP is sweeping the fashion world right now, but that is nothing more than a fortunate coincidence for you, is it? You would have come up and out with CUAP regardless of any trends?
"Absolutely. Had I started ten years prior, the effect and response probably wouldn’t have been the same as it has been now though."

Your style, is it preppy or is it classic?
"I don’t call it preppy. Some blogs call it preppy, but it’s not, absolutely not. I just happen to like some of those items. I like the Ivy heritage very much. The whole American history in the twentieth century, jazz music and everything, all the movements from the fifties and sixties. Most of my inspiration is British though: The Beatles. Also the London dandy, of course."

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Most of my inspiration is British.
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So the entire twentieth century, with the emphasis on the sixties? Thinking of The Beatles, I tend to think of the haircuts with hair hanging down over the forehead and the very high cut black jackets.
"Yes, exactly, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had their styles influenced by the time they were living in - the sixties. I hope that style returns."

OK, so what’s your favorite Beatle song? I know that it could be a matter of mood, of situation and so on...
"Ah, no. It’s Taxman by George Harrison."

That’s a good song. Is Harrison your favorite Beatle when it comes to songwriting?
"Actually, I’d say my favorite is Paul McCartney. Look at how creative he is. It’s possible to say that he’s totally commercial, and some even say that he’s become a bad musician. But as a person, look at how much he’s done in life. It’s absolutely amazing."

What else has inspired you? Any icons of style? Any specific time?
"It's hard to beat the sixties. They were the most creative and amazing time in history in my opinion, with people like Jackie Kennedy around. I have a lot of books that cover that era."

Your grew up in the Ukraine during Soviet rule. How did you get access to the material that inspired you?
"I grew up in a very unique family. My father was a reputable Russian architect and his connections brought home many interesting magazines from England and America."

Did growing up there affect your career choices? Were there things that you weren’t allowed to do, in art for example?
"I have an architect’s education, which my father inspired me to pursue. I worked as an architect for a while after graduation. People around me, although not in the business of fashion, loved style. There was a bunch of us who, through the music, the LPs, shared an idea of style. Even under the regime it was possible to find the LPs that we listened to. From around 1965 we got more and more involved. By the seventies I was a collector with a vast collection of records issued in Germany and England."

Do you still listen to vinyl?
"Oh, yes. I have a beautiful record player from 1966. When I put my copy of Revolver by The Beatles, from the same year, on the turntable the sound is very authentic."

In August of 2011, Gant Rugger Denmark issued a lookbook exclusively featuring CUAP-style pictures by Sergei Sviatchenko of his son wearing clothes from the A/W Rugger collection. The lookbook became an internet smash hit, and bloggers have spread the pictures beyond the capacity of any ‘old media,’ campaign. The Rugger store in Copenhagen sold out its Hopsack blazer within days of the release of the lookbook.

Did Rugger approach you or did you approach them?
"They approached me. I had done a Euroman project, through which I was introduced to the Rugger people. The project was about shooting a few items for a normal A/W collection, but with a variety of brands. I chose the clothes myself. I always do, I have a good idea about what I want. So I chose, they packed and sent me the clothes, and I took the pictures. In that shoot I used a lot of Rugger, so they contacted me."

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I've realized that there are blogs that copy CUAP straight up and down.
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The fact that any picture of yours is guaranteed to end up on numerous blogs, means that collaboration with you is a good marketing idea. Any more plans for collaborations?
"On a typical day I get between five to ten emails asking for collaborations. I have to turn most of them down unfortunately, because CUAP represents a particular style, a particular art project, and I have to be very careful in choosing who to collaborate with."

When you work with a brand on a project, how does that affect your artistic freedom?
"Well, naturally I demand a lot of freedom to elaborate my ideas."

And are there brands that will let you have that freedom, that will say "take our clothes and do whatever you want?"
"Well, let’s see how things develop. Merging business with art can be a bit tricky, but there are ways of approaching it that leave all those involved content with the outcome."

On the subject of fashion photography, how do you feel about a guy like Scott Schuman (the Sartorialist)?
"He is remarkable in that he pioneered the art of street fashion photography, and everyone knows it. A lot of others have followed his concept very closely, some perhaps too closely."

Does that happen to CUAP too?
"It does. I’ve realized that there are blogs that copy CUAP straight up and down. Exactly the same: the hand in front of the face for example. I feel OK about it, but when you see something that’s exactly, 100 percent the same, you ask yourself what the point of that is."

Sergei himself blogs in multiple places. In addition to his own CUAP and his commission with Euroman, American men’s online fashion magazine Swipelife lets him have his own corner and post whatever he feels ought to be posted, whenever he feels so compelled.

What do you yourself enjoy reading in men’s fashion magazines?
"Interesting things beyond the conventional reading. Where bow ties come from, the history of a jacket. Interesting history, explanations to why things are as they are. One example that I find interesting is that regimental ties have the stripes coming from one side if they’re original British army ties, and the other if they’re from an American manufacturer, like Brooks Brothers. That’s an interesting detail, I think. I’d also like to see some original visual stuff, very dynamic and informative. Illustrations and the like. Also, I’d like to see interesting interviews with respected people from the cinema industry, the art industry, the world of culture. Their points of view would be very interesting to me."

No doubt Sergei Sviatchenko is a multifaceted man. By combining his profession with one of his greatest interests, he has opened the door to something quite groundbreaking. It is hard to see that a completely non-commercial path is feasible for most artists. At the same time, artistic integrity will inevitably nosedive if commercial aspects are too closely heeded. Sergei has arguably been very careful to balance the two. What the future holds in store for the international artist is hard to gauge, but do not bet against it being more unique collaborations in the field of collage art and fashion. Or something completely different from a man with ideas and a popular platform.

Interview by Oscar Svenäng.
Pictures courtesy of Sergei Sviatchenko.

New York City

Gotham or the Apple, the Big Apple. Or maybe "The City So Nice, They Named It Twice." Serenaded by both Frank Sinatra and Ryan Adams. The Greatest City in the World according to Letterman announcer Alan Kalter. New York.

New York is quite possibly the most versatile city on the planet. That's not a very original statement, but we still can't help thinking that NY is one of our favorite places.

That doesn't mean that we don't like other cities or that we want to spend our whole lives in its urban jungles.

No, there are plenty of ideals that New York will never live up to. Cleanliness, politeness and humility are a few of those.

It is still more intriguing than any other city. It might be the atmosphere of continuous action, it might its vastness. It might even be the smell of the Hudson River that makes New York so intriguing.

Some argue that it is the center of Western civilization, others say that it is the cradle of Western decadence. Both are right. New York is at the heart of almost everything Americo-centric. The arts, the literature, the music, the fashion scenes.

All of those things, and a few others, make it completely depraved and dangerously alluring.

Whatever your feelings, whatever your experiences, you have to agree with this: you can't ignore New York.

Our friend Christian Andersen made a video collage capturing just that. We recommend you have a look.

Ode to the Internet

The Internet - among many other things, a rich mosaic of inspiration, art and fashion held together by the glue of modern technology.

Suit Up or Die - a webmag. A novelty, and unthinkable a few years back. We’re grateful you made it here. And let’s not forget that we are all indebted to Tim Berners-Lee (the ‘creator’ of the internet), Mark Zuckerberg and all those other techies. And also to a Danish artist.

It was the explosion of image blogging on Tumblr that kicked it all off. I started following dozens of Tumblr blogs. Inspiration, interiors, fashion, food: everything I came across. Twenty or thirty image blogs every day. I saved pics I liked in a folder. It grew into two folders, four, then six. As my collection grew, so did my addiction.

Today, I thank Tumblr for that.

One day I decided to do something creative with my all the images I had saved. That was how my own blog came to be. I selected the pics and the order in which they appeared. I focused on things I loved: creativity, inspiration and fashion.

After a day or two of hesitation, I linked to the blog on Facebook. The link went viral. My worries about not being understood disappeared. The hit count and reviews made my day.

Thank you Facebook.

While I was working on my blog, I came across a true inspirer, a man named Sergei Sviatchenko. He is an international artist, big in fashion photography.

We had similar ideas. His pictures were eye-catching, original and captivating. Art, fashion and technology in one. He'd created something unique.

I nicked borrowed a couple of images from Sergei. Probably shouldn’t have, but I had to spread his work. My admiration at least afforded him a link.

When my blog reached almost 50 000 hits and around 500 Facebook likes, I decided to get more out of it. With a couple of partners, I developed a webmag. We just wanted to try something new, break a few rules, push the limits, cause a stir.

Then there was the link to Sergei Sviatchenko’s site. Turns out he got a lot of hits from it. So many that he had to check out where they came from. Soon after, Sergei sent us a humble mail about the newest additions to his online gallery. We responded, and then went to Copenhagen to interview the possibly most interesting crossover artist of our times. Seize the moment, eh?

Who knows what the future holds? This whole internet business is super dynamic and we love it. The opportunities it provides are infinite. I just hope that when I'm 58, I use the internet in the creative and original way Sergei does.

As my image collection grew, so did my addiction.

So far, this whole blogging and webmag business has been a ride, and I it is still in its infancy. All thanks to a little creativity, a little inspiration, an interest in fashion and an internet connection.

Thank you Internet.
by @Emil_Jonsson

Hero of the silverscreen

MARLON BRANDO

Long ago, when the silver screen made legends out of those lucky enough to possess the skill and charisma, one name stands out. To Marlon Brando, acting was not a job. It was a lifestyle.

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Whenever Brando stepped in front of a camera, it seems he could turn into just about anybody. From the leader of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, through Zapata and Mark Anthony, he embodied the Godfather (to the right) as well as the eerie Colonel Kurtz.

Method acting was Brando's passion, and something he took seriously. Rumors say he studied his characters so intensely that he eventually became them. Little concern was devoted to his own health or that of his loved ones. Small price to pay if you want to live forever.

Method acting was Brando's passion, and something he took seriously.

Portraying both lighthearted idealism (The Ugly American) and the most sinister depths of human nature (Apocalypse Now), Marlon Brando's always made the people he played convincing and spellbinding. He gave them life.

But Brando was much more than just an accomplished actor. Off-screen he was just as strong a character and enigma. The 1973 Oscars, where he was nominated for Best Actor, he boycotted, sending Native American Indian Sacheen Littlefeather in his place.

His objective? To draw attention to the treatment of the Native American population. Brando, of course, clinched the Oscar for his role in the Godfather, and Littlefeather's acceptance speech on his behalf is a talking point even today.

Plastic meets walnut

The collaboration between Charles and Ray Eames was a unique genius. A husband and wife team, they spent the better part of their lives giving America and the world low price, yet high class design solutions.

The couple's dedication to following their creative urges led to a series of inspired and inspiring furniture designs.

One of those is the Dining Side chair Wood-base (DSW for short), crafted from molded plastics and wood from the walnut tree. A simple yet elegant Eames classic. It was first shown to the public at a low-cost furniture design competition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1948.

The design of this particular chair, the easy and soft lines that evoke a sense of finesse, has made it a classic that will endure for decades to come.

The lives and work of Charles Eames, who is reputed to have said that "the details are not the details, they make the product" and his wife Ray are the subject of the 2011 documentary Eames: The Architect & The Painter. Make sure you see it if the DSW whets your fascination for industrial design and the so-called creative process.

Eames chair Eames chair
Eames chair Eames chair
The details are not the details. They make the design. -Charles Eames
Eames chair

The new McQueen

All the elements that made Steve McQueen an eternal male style icon are about to elevate Ryan Gosling to the same heights.

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THE NEW McQUEEN

In terms of impact, Bullitt might be Steve McQueen’s finest hour. We remember him grinding down the mafia’s sinister dealings while being hounded by his superiors. And who can forget the 1968 Mustang pursuit that made car chases ubiquitous in police drama?

Other things we vividly recall are the navy turtleneck and chukkas McQueen sport for most of the film. Those, plus his hair, his glasses and the best looking jacket a policeman ever wore did their part in building the King of Cool moniker. Bullitt defines Steve McQueen as a style icon and helped shape a sartorial era.

It remains to be seen whether Drive has that kind of impact on our times. We have a hunch that it will. Going over the arguments, we find that Ryan Gosling is completely comfortable in the Persols and the slim-cut and waist-long jacket. He drives like a full-blooded professional and gives the slightly tacky habit of rolling a toothpick around in his mouth a well-needed air of cool. Above all, Gosling radiates that easy McQueeness.

As far as image goes, Gosling is edging closer and closer to being the icon in acting today. He is, as they say, the man who the guys want to be and the girls want to be with.

On screen, Frank Bullitt and Gosling's nameless character from Drive are polar opposites. Bullitt, the mob-hounding hell-bender, is everything Gosling's young escape wheelman in Drive is not.

But in life beyond the silver screen, Ryan Gosling reminds us of Steve McQueen more than anyone else. They both embody modern male style with alarmingly little effort. With the roles Gosling has been cast in over the past year, he may have already mounted a throne that's been vacant for quite some time.

Postscript.We're not gonna dive into any Dalaiistic reincarnation coo-doo here, but just think about this: McQueen passed into eternity on the 7th of November 1980. Ryan Gosling drew his first breath five days later, on the 12th. Coincidence?

The Dubai Section

SHORT RANGE

There is nothing as gratifying as a day in the desert, but it is not wise to underestimate the importance of bringing the proper tools. One would, of course, think that the epitome of a terrain traveller would be up for the job. But one can be wrong.

THE DUBAI SECTION

SHORT RANGE

Part of the crew in this particular Stockholm-Dubai expedition was convinced of the Desert Rover's abilities. So sure were they, that when the delegation went out to delight in the pleasures of a 38C/100F ocean of sand, they believed themselves to be perfectly equipped.

The trip did not, however, go exactly as planned. The three-ton deluxe tractor managed to dig herself deep down into the sand, until she rested comfortably on her undercarriage.

If this little hiccup was a result of the equipment's Anglo-Indian origins (unlikely) or an unfortunate choice on the driver's part, this tale will not disclose. The incident did, however, make for an excellent photo opportunity.

Credits

Thanks to all our new and old friends, in particular:

Sergei Sviatchenko
Janne & Adnan
Christian Andersen
For contributions to this issue.

Anders Söderberg
Calle Godani & Hanna Godani
Jan S
For fighter spirit and perseverance.

Christopher Bastin
Mauro Scocco
Adam Tensta
For providing bits and pieces that boosted our online careers.

Scott Schuman
For inspiration through provocation.

+all the creators of all the images in the magazine

We'd also like to thank the people who've been in touch, regardless of whether it's been for praise or doom. We welcome both. To have your say about Suit Up or Die, please go to our Facebook page.

Suit Up or Die #1 was brought to you by Emil Jonsson, Martin Sörensson and Oscar Svenäng. We make up suitupordie.com.

The End.