Man about town Elliot Aronow has made quite a name for himself on the New York social scene. The co-founder and creative director of RCRD LBL, the world’s first free and legal curated download site, he is also widely considered a men’s style expert; he writes a weekly column about men’s style for Playboy.com called “Self Styled with Elliot Aronow” and edits and publishes a seasonal arts and culture magazine entitled OUR SHOW with Elliot Aronow. Taking it one step further he has now launched an accessories brand, Jacques-Elliott, which makes handmade ties. Sold at trendsetting boutiques like Odin, we spoke with Aronow about his background, his latest venture and what’s to come.
Love your Twitter tagline "Dress British, talk Yiddish. Dipped in Ralph" - can you elaborate?
Sure! My intro to dressing up, or at least wearing a shirt with a collar, came from learning about the UK mod scene of the mid 1960s when I was about 17. They were all about using style and dress to better yourself and make your mark in society, by being a "face." I've always loved that aspect of the culture and have carried it with me into what we are doing with Jacques-Elliott, creating product that makes you look and feel awesome so you can get what you need and want in this world. As for the Yiddish, I'm Jewish and speak a little bit of the language and as for Ralph, that would be Ralph Lauren, the creator of lifestyle brands and my hero.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I'm a nice Jewish boy from Staten Island who was raised by two English teachers and the Beastie Boys. I've been way into clothes since I was a little kid and I guess it's always been the way I viewed the world. I remember making my Mom by me these dinosaur print shorts to wear to summer camp when I was like eight thinking I would get all the girls. It sorta worked, even though I was kinda short for my age.
At what point did you think starting Jacques-Elliott would be viable and what were the initial steps?
In late 2012 we made a run of about 12 ties as holiday presents for our homies using really incredible rare fabrics. Once our friends wore them to work and parties and stuff, people just flipped for them, asking where they could get some. That lead them to me and with that, our first string of super fans was created. We were very happy people wanted them! It's so hard to make anything people actually like!
I like that they are easy to produce but difficult to do well; sort of like making a song or a beat. Also, I found that anything my friends and I saw in stores was either too skinny (not that flattering if you are a bigger gent), too fat (frumpy and dowdy) insanely expensive or not available in any cool colors that didn't make you look like you were trying too hard. So we stepped in and created The Perfect Tie: 3 1/8 inches wide, always handsome and bound to bring you some positive attention. I think our fabrics are cooler and our linings really make for a beautiful product. They hang properly, look great with everything from suits to chinos and also move with your body. And, they’re handmade, that's the way we put the love in!
Can you tell us a bit about your music background and how it comes into play in your design process?
I spent most of my teenage years working at the world famous Princeton Record Exchange –even though I went to college at Rutgers – smoking grass and going on tour with weirdo punk rock bands. Eventually, I decided that working in the music business was the closest thing to not getting a real job as I could find, so I hustled my way into that business and went on an adventure.
I still connect with bands visually just as much as musically so for me, I want to make product that someone cool like a Mark Ronson or a Mos Def or a Stroke would be psyched to perform in, and bring into their off-stage life as well.
You've been called a go-to for dating advice. Any advice you personally live by?
If you are a dude, always always, always hold the door for any woman you see, especially if you are NOT dating her. On a first date, never order a sandwich. In general, be present, don't be a creep, and definitely x 100000 put your phone away, like turn it off.
How did the writing gigs with Playboy etc come about?
I met some people from their team backstage at a Chromeo show in Montreal. They liked my ties and my jokes and were super cool and open to my voice/style and there it was.
What do you think every man should own?
I tell every dude to spend as much as they can on a nice two button notch lapel blazer and some brown lace ups. Those two items will get you through 90% of what life throws your way. The rest only style jerks like me will notice.
Any fashion pet peeve?
Tight short suits.
Biggest mistake men make when getting dressed?
Not realizing that FIT FIT FIT comes first and trends come second. There's only a tiny bit of science to dressing well but once you learn it, you are set for life. But you'll have to buy the Jacques-Elliott coffee table book that is coming out in 2016 to get the whole story...