An artisanal conversation with Maximilian Mogg – Berliner tailor, style icon and Founder of Maximili
Dear readers, succeeding from the previous blog post, do you remember a stylish Berliner tailor that wearing the beautiful white carnation boutonnière? Yes, that gentleman is Mr. Maximilian Mogg. Based in Berlin, not only he’s the Founder of his namesake tailoring atelier boutique, specializes in timelessly classic and refined made-to-measure menswear, he’s also a style icon as well! In fact, I only learnt about this dapper gentleman’s work after my visit in Berlin back in two years ago, which I was kind of regret to not knowing him earlier, so that I can have a visit to his atelier boutique, and greet him in person; even when time passed by, I still have some vague memories about his work, however, it gets more intense after having my previous blog post (apparently), which it encourages me to get in touch with Maximilian this time to have some great conversation here, even as much as I can talk about the countless great work by this youthful artisan, I’d rather to save this, and let the gentleman himself to share with you all, my dear readers, about his insight in his expertise - refined menswear, style and more.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Max, such a delight to have you with us this time! As I realized that you are about to do a trunk show in London, how did everything go?
Maximilian Mogg: All went pretty well. Fully booked, a lot of appointments, good fittings, kind customers, beautiful weather … can you ask for more when being on a business trip to London?
MMD: Yes of course! Anyway, I find it very uplifting (and amusing) when you introduced your menswear journey starting as the ‘foolish young man’, but then it becomes an encouraging story, can you share with us what makes you so determine to devote yourself into classic menswear? And become who you are now?
MM: I have simply very much enjoyed classic menswear from an early age. I believe I was 15 years old when I bought my first vintage Savile Row suit and had it retailored. I don’t quite recall what made me take a look at Savile Row back then, but I didn’t want to waste my money and wanted to get something that would last. I was shocked that my slim shoulders and long arms seemed to have been replaced the moment I put the suit on. The classic silhouette just transformed my physique. From that day on, that’s the style I’ve wanted to wear and that’s also where my dream of becoming a tailor started.
MMD: You have spent some time with some of the greatest master tailors before, can you tell us what are your most memorable experience during those times? And, what are the most valuable things that you have learnt?
MM: When working with Mr. Sexton and Mr. Sebag-Montefiore (and it’s an important to note that I say “working with”; I have never been a proper apprentice in the classic sense at any tailoring house) the great master E. said something that has stuck with me ever since: “Tailoring and silhouettes are essentially about daylight shining through the body!” He also introduced me to the three Cs: “Crooks, Cranks & Cripples.” Those are the three types of customers that a tailor will deal with. As a crank and cripple myself, I can confirm that that is totally true.
MMD: As realized that you are a multi-talented professional, working on your craft on menswear as well as doing some writing in the past, how did you manage to be multi-tasking? Even today having different schedules for Trunk shows and even interviews, what is your secret of managing your work-life balance?
MM: I always try to work until all of the work is done. It’s a simple rule but it works. The next thing is to try to be as efficient as possible (Yes, I am, in fact, a German.) I try to structure my days like I did at school. Tasks are completed in 45-minute slots and then I take a short break after each slot. Do that for about six and a half days a week and you can do almost anything you’ve set your mind to.
MMD: As a young entrepreneur in the classic menswear field, what are the challenges and how did you overcome them?
MM: Our biggest challenge currently is regulating how quickly we want to grow as a company, how we want to grow, and what projects to focus your assets on. So far, we have been fortunate in that business has been fantastic from day one and the German market certainly seems to be trending in our favour. That being said, as an entrepreneur you need to forecast how demand will be over time and try to diversify as much as possible. That’s one of the main reasons why we wanted to do trunk shows as soon as possible. It’s a low-risk way for us to test other markets and expand. The key balance also involves not taking on too many tasks at the same time. We want to concentrate on the things we do and make sure that we can maintain our very very high standards of customer service.
MMD: Let’s turn to something about style, can you tell us about what is your view about Berliner men’s style? And in your menswear creation, how did you interpret the modern day Berliner style through your work?
MM: I would like to stress that I’m not intending to judge or insult anyone for their clothing choices. I choose to wear classic menswear. That doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else. That being said, on a personal level, I find the style in Berlin to be quite boring; there is little innovation or creativity or even personality. There’s this tension because it seems to be an exercise in freedom and, at least, partially in response to what is seen as the conventionality of suit culture. However, the result is a Berghain-inspired uniform. Far more uniform than what I see in classic menswear.
MMD: If I have to say, what is the signature ‘Maximilian Mogg’ look from your tailoring to accessories collection?
MM: Briefly: High-quality, made-to-last, practical, and at the right level of formality.
MMD: What are the three items in your wardrobe that you think it means a lot to you? And why?
MM: The first obvious choice is my first Savile Row commission. A navy double-breasted lounge suit from Edward Sexton, cut by Mr Dominic Sebag-Montefiore himself. The second is another double-breasted navy lounge suit. This one was the first suit I made for myself. Last but not least would probably be a pocket square that I made in collaboration with a friend of mine who is a comic book artist now based in Berlin. It was one of my first collaborative projects and it combines my love of tailoring with my interest in writing prose and my passion for comic books. A match made in heaven!
MMD: in your opinion, apart from dressing well, what are the great qualities that a modern day gentleman should have?
MM: Dressing well is not a replacement for a personality. Clothing is packaging meant to spread joy and communicate respect. A gentleman should be a gentleman in all situations, whether he is clothed or not. I think humour is part of it. Not taking oneself too seriously. Being kind and charitable when the situation arises. The final and, arguably, most important lesson is to be kind to your mother-in-law. It will make your life easier.
MMD: You have been doing some successful crossover in the past, with the recent one with ‘Mr. Porter’, can you give us some sneak-peek on what are your upcoming project(s)?
MM: Our focus is to improve our core product every day and to expand into other domains that we have experience with. We are currently working on some tweaks to our MTM, setting up a fully handmade Maximilian Mogg line, MTM high-rise jeans, and a collaboration with a fantastic leather bag company in northern England by the name of Rutherfords of England. At the same time, we’re in the final stages of planning for another collection for Mr Porter on a slightly larger scale. Lots to look forward to! This all goes back to one of the earlier questions about challenges to entrepreneurs. We try to never lose sight of why we’re doing this. We only provide products that we want ourselves.
MMD: if there’s someone came to you one day and ask you about how to be a great menswear tailor / artisan, and entrepreneur, what are your advice to him/her?
MM: I would say the single most important lesson is to do something that you’re passionate about and committed to. I’m not a huge fan of serial entrepreneurs with a bunch of get-rich-quick schemes. If you start with a product or an idea that you’re passionate about, it will show and people will share that passion.
Special thanks to Mr. Maximilian Mogg.
Image courtesy of Maximilian Mogg Berlin; photo credit: Michael Rassinger (blog cover photo) and Flory Gründig.