In the second part of his Personal Style series, Fiacha Harrington talks to Pinkomo's Mikko Sorvala about American vintage working men's clothes and other influences.
Mikko Sorvala, is 39 and lives in Espoo. He is the proprietor of Pinkomo, one of the leading menswear stores in Helsinki, which has recently expanded to include a small department to cater for female customers.
Fiacha Harrington: Let’s start with what you’re wearing today?
Mikko Sorvala : Today I am wearing Iron Heart jeans model 634, which are modeled on the classic 1966 Levi’s 501. They’re made with extra heavy denim in Japan. The weight is 25oz, normally denim cloth is about 12oz. They are super heavy and sturdy so they stand up to a lot of wear and tear. I am wearing Red Wings chelsea boots made from hawthorne leather, where the ‘meat’ side is on the outside. What that means is that the leather is turned inside out, so that you get the suede side of the leather on the outside and the normally flush leather on the inside. I am wearing an Indigofera heavy flannel shirt with indigo dye, so the blue fades somewhat like the way that denim does. I also have a Aero Leathers highwayman jacket which is made from front quarter horsehide, which is the very thickest part of the hide. At first the jacket was very stiff but with wear it’s softened and has a lived-in feel.
FH: Are these the type of clothes you normally wear?
Mikko: These clothes are definitely representative of what I wear on a normal day. Some days for comfort I wear lighter jeans, with a lighter weight denim cloth – but especially in winter this is what I most likely wear. The core items are a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt – simple basics. In general I wear quality clothes, I consider them to be an investment.
FH: As the owner of a clothing store you probably wear a lot of brands that you have in the store, but what are your personal go to brands?
Mikko: Firstly there will always be Red Wing boots, which I have bought quite a lot of pairs of over the years, even before I stocked them in the shop. We now have a designated shop within a shop dedicated to Red Wings in the store, which is the only one of it’s kind in Finland. We stock the full range of boots and shoes that they make. Indigofera is a label that I have a lot of love for. It is a Swedish brand that primarily uses Japanese and American cloth and denim in their clothes. The clothes are manufactured in Portugal, in a quality factory with good working conditions. The clothes I wear and have in the store are ethically made and we avoid sweatshops and fast fashion. This does bring an additional price point to the clothes and shoes, but our customers are willing to pay for that level of quality. Aero Leathers is a brand that I personally like to wear and hope to have in the store some day. The jackets are handmade by a single machinist in Scotland, they produce custom leather jackets as well as replica RAF, USN and USAAF jackets. Finally, Iron Heart from Japan is another personal favourite, I stock it in the store.
The jackets are handmade by a single machinist in Scotland
FH: What does personal style mean to you?
Mikko: For me personal style is modeled on the past and the heritage clothing that it represents. In particular I model my personal style on elements gathered from the ‘American working man’ – specifically from the first half of the last century. That includes classic military influences. For me that means wearing clothes that are made by brands that have been making the same clothes and shoes for over a century now. Brands like Red Wings that first started making work boots in 1905. Likewise denim brands like Levi’s that have been making clothes for the working man since the late 1800s. There are other brands that aim to replicate the products from a bygone era. The best of these can be found in America and Japan, where they aim to replicate every individual element of the original garment or shoe.
FH: Where do you get influences from?
Mikko: Japan is perhaps the world leader for brands that are dedicated to making ‘heritage’ clothing, they are very big on all things Americana. Some of these brands have even bought the old machines from the USA, which were originally used to make the same garments in the first place, so they can reproduce even the smallest detail. The styles that the Japanese have embraced have spread back to the US and elsewhere in the world and now there is a booming niche market for heritage brands. These days it is easy to get access to archive material on the internet, which allows me to explore both the old brands and those that are creating replica products. The internet has made it more accessible to people wherever they might be.
FH: And finally, what is your perception in general of men’s clothing now?
Mikko: I feel at the moment menswear and men’s style in general is moving forward in leaps and bounds. When you look at guys on the streets of Helsinki, they seem to be making an effort in what they choose to wear. A thing I’ve noticed is that they are also starting to pay attention to the quality and not just how they look. Men seem to have gained the knowledge that it pays to buy quality and invest in the shoes and clothes that they wear.
When you look at guys on the streets of Helsinki, they seem to be making an effort in what they choose to wear.
Visit Pinkomo online.