Interview with Levi Nelson

I'm Levi, Front of House at Sew Generously Bespoke in Seattle Washington.

How and when did you become interested in fashion?

My interest in fashion came from finding one way that I could express myself.

I think I was 16 or so after moving out of my parents home, I started being able to interrogate myself. What do I want, who is Levi? My answers never really stuck or felt right, so I asked if looking like Levi would help and I had to come up with a look. The answer I had was suits! I committed to it, asking tuxedo rental spaces about what they could part with so I could have things to wear. I wanted to look professional and friendly at first. I destroyed many rayon creations, learning that putting my good pieces through the washer and dryer weren’t how they were supposed to be cared for. Progressively, by looking at myself in the mirror and seeing what other people wore and asking how I felt about their expression of self, I came to know myself better and what exactly I wanted to wear or express through my own style.

When did you decide to work in the fashion industry?

It may have been late 2013 or 14, I had seen that the TV series Hannibal was having an auction for many of the pieces that were worn, and I saw the term bespoke. Upon finding out that it wasn’t a brand, but a style of constructing a garment, I set out to find experts to learn from. I knew I would find out more about who I am and further develop my sense of style. The thought of being able to help other people find their own voice, and to help them craft their own wardrobe that expresses their inner world for others was so enticing! I called, emailed and drove many hours to meet with every Bespoke tailor in the area just for the chance to be able to work with them. I did so persistently.

How would you describe your style?

Traditionally inspired but executed in an unapologetically modern way.

I like to embody a concept, like “wine on the waterfront”, “fall in Seattle”, “The crawl of Ivy on a skyscraper”. The meeting of urban/city and nature is my favorite to capture. I like wearing combinations of colors and patterns that capture those kinds of emotions, and many of the things I wear are very inspired by how Seattle feels. The way trees break up the pavement, red leaves, cherry blossoms, blackberries populating the neighborhoods, always being in visual distance from the water, how brilliantly bright and comfortably warm the summers are, the grey gradient of winter and the nearly perpetual overcast sky during it. My outfits often try to capture those moods. 

In addition to that kind of composition, I just love modern textiles and what fabric mills like Dormeuil, Drapers and Holland & Sherry are all able to produce. I love being able to take historical styles, adjust them to my aesthetic and use the fabrics I am endlessly in love with to make something that I know no one else is wearing.

What is your favourite accessory?

Socks. Socks are something that I have been having a lot of fun with. I can draw out auxilary colors from my jacket, my shirt, my trousers, my tie or my shoes. There is a lot of freedom in being able to make a fun expression for the day by just changing which socks I pair with an outfit, from seemingly so little that is almost never seen!

What is your preferred pattern in a tie?

Paisley. I have tried to wear florals, plains, stripes and medallions but I always come back to flourishing paisleys because of how well they capture a lot of natural growth and complexity in color. I am often wearing jackets with windowpanes or glenchecks, so the paisley tie really plays well for me.

What is the thing in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?

I would have to say my dark brown oxfords, and hopefully the paired belt. These shoes have seen many miles, and they are an absolute favorite tone of mine. That may be followed by at least one pair of my cufflinks, as most of my shirts are french cuffs by now!

What is the most important style advice that you would give?

I would say to look in the mirror more often. 

People have good intuitions for what looks good on them, but seeing more colors and how they bring out features in your face or how something drapes on you is invaluable. After years of intentionally looking in the mirror more, and making deliberate choices about wearing more of the types of styles of clothing you enjoyed seeing on yourself — you will get very good at looking exactly how you want versus what a stylist like me would tell you how to look. 

It is a simple task, something that can consistently improve your ability to not only identify what you like for yourself, but for others as well.

What is your favourite hobby?

That would be between running Dungeons and Dragons games for my friends weekly or dancing Lindy-hop. I’ve been running games for Dungeons and Dragons for 16 years about, and writing stories for friends to play around which is very fun. I started dancing in 2013, and it was also a driver of wearing my suits more often. In both of these hobbies, I get to find ways of expressing myself more — much like in my sense of style. I really like finding my voice and seeing what I really want to express in all facets of my life.

Any special plans for the new year 2022?

I am hoping to travel to many of the different mills where they finish different wools, and perhaps some silk mills if I am able to find the vacation time!

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