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The Fashion Geek Podcast

50 | John Wojcik and Christopher Siakkas of Silkxchange Think The Menswear Resale Market Is The Key To Sustanibility

Reg talks with John and Chris about their new high end menswear marketplace, Silkxchange. Learn why they think the suit is the most sustainable fashion item out there. Get ready to buy or sell.



Guest Links

Timestamps

00:00 Introduction and Welcome
00:29 Meet John and Christopher
03:20 Discussing the Menswear Resale Market
04:56 The Sustainability of Classic Menswear
06:57 Building Silk Exchange
13:10 Creating a Community
21:44 The Origin of Silk Exchange
27:58 The Essence of Silk Exchange
28:33 Navigating the Platform
30:58 Community and Quality Assurance
33:27 Team and Global Presence
35:23 Staff Picks and Favorite Items
37:29 Building a Supplier Network
40:23 Unique Selling Points
45:05 Personal Style and Inspiration
52:18 The Meaning of Always Be Fly

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Transcript

John [00:00:00]: I think that the suit can save the world. I think that classic menswear enthusiasts are some of the most, environmentally friendly consumers in fashion. And, you know, I think we're also, you know, in the the current, state of the world and, you know, the way that people are developing today and the crises even that we're facing. People need another reason to wake up in the morning, and, you know, there's nothing like, putting on a nice jacket or, you know, a bunch of other parts of your routine, that are associated with classic menswear that, can help you kick start your day and, try to project your best self. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:38]: Hello. I'm Red. John [00:00:39]: And I'm Tiff. And we're the fashion geeks. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:42]: Trying to make New York. John [00:00:43]: And the world. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:43]: Well, New York is the world. John [00:00:44]: A little flyer, one outfit Reginald Ferguson [00:00:46]: And podcast. John [00:00:47]: At a time. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:52]: When eBay came out in the nineties, I had no idea what it was. Online auctions? A marketplace? I was just getting comfortable with email. Why didn't people just sell their stuff in front of their houses or at a garage sale or even in New York at the Chelsea Flea and Antiques Market. Back then, I didn't get it. But now, with them and Etsy in the 2000s, I'm in. Now, would I buy high end menswear? Yo. This is Reg Ferguson, Fashion Geek number 1. How you guys doing? Welcome to the ride. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:33]: Thank you so much for listening. Please tell your friends about us. Please tell them to subscribe, and please give us a review on Apple Podcasts. Special shout goes to our producer search and everyone down with the Fashion Geeks. If you have a question or a story suggestion, you can email me at podcast@nyfashiongeek.com or hit me up on the Insta at New York Fashion Geek. Today, we're gonna talk with John Vodrick and Christopher Siakas of Silk Exchange, who are in Bangkok in London. It's my first international interview. We're gonna talk about a category of shopping that the everyday man probably should have an interest in, especially with the current economy. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:10]: We're gonna talk about the menswear resale market. John and Christopher in the building, international. How are you guys? John [00:02:18]: Fantastic, Reg. Great intro, man. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:22]: Yeah. Exception of that slip up, but are you guys keeping safe out there? Reginald Ferguson [00:02:28]: Yes. I'm swimming along. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:31]: Hey. You know, it's it's tricky. And I know I know in the UK where you are, Christopher, I know you're you've entered another lockdown. And Reginald Ferguson [00:02:39]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:40]: You claim to know. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:42]: Yeah. No. I think, for us, it's, quite serious. I mean, I know you guys over in New York had, a lot of issues, up until recently. I think London has tried to kind of, evade, if not the actual issues, definitely the publicity, all these months, but now it kind of everything came in feet. But, yeah, swimming along, and staying positive, that's, the best thing. And, with the new year, you know, trying to to think of all the great things that are ahead of us. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:13]: Sure. Understood. So, gentlemen, before we go into our topic, please tell us, so what do you do? John [00:03:38]: Chris, do you wanna take it first? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:41]: Sounds good. So, I work I work in the, financial sector here in, in London in the UK. That's my day job. However, I've I've got quite an entrepreneurial, character and, mindset. So for a long time, I've been involved in start ups and, style projects, and, I I I was introduced to John, a long time ago, and we kind of, clicked when it came to classic menswear. And, so Silk Exchange came about about, 13, 14 months ago, and that's, something else that I do on the side of, my my day job. John [00:04:29]: Yeah. So I've been living in Southeast Asia for the last two and a half years working for the UN. Before that, I spent some time in Korea, which also had a pretty big impact on my, infatuation with menswear. And, before that, I was in school. So, happy to be out and, exploring the world and happy to be in Bangkok right now. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:50]: Good for you, man. Yeah. Understatement. So, gentlemen, why a men's high end resale marketplace and why now? John [00:05:00]: Sure. So Chris, if you don't mind, I'll take it. Please. So, yeah, I think that, in addition to fashion being cyclical, and I think a lot of us can agree that classic menswear is kind of down cycled, a lot of, speculation about the suit being dead and, whatnot. I think with the current state of menswear and hashtag menswear online, specifically on Instagram and, through podcasts like Euler Edge. I think that, classic menswear is coming up. I think there's a lot of influencers, from the armory in New York where you live to Yep. To what we're doing and, you know, the entire classic menswear scene across Asia that I'm I'm falling in love with on the daily. John [00:05:43]: There's a lot of cool movement, a lot of cool activity, and, you know, I'll throw in a little sustainability bit here. I think that the suit can save the world. I think that classic menswear enthusiasts are some of the most, environmentally friendly consumers in fashion. And, you know, I think we're also, you know, in the current, state of the world and, you know, the way that people are developing today and the crises even that we're facing. People need another reason to wake up in the morning and, you know, there's nothing like, putting on a nice jacket or, you know, a bunch of other parts of your routine, that are associated with classic men's wear that, can help you kick start your day and, try to project your best self. So that's that's why. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:28]: So, John, I wanna follow-up. Why do you think the suit is the most sustainable item out there? John [00:06:35]: I think I I use the suit, as a as a tagline there, but, it's not the suit. It's just the fact that classic men's wear garments are crafted with care over time. They're crafted with passion, you know, long standing traditions of, of making clothes well. And and it's a it's a silent protest that you can wear to fast fashion and the terrible impact it's having, on communities, on the environment, and, you know, to be to be honest on, like, the mindset of of young people. You don't need to rotate your wardrobe as quickly as we do. If you look at data about economic development, what's happened is that as the world becomes more developed, people are buying more clothes and these clothes tend to last them less time. Classic menswear is a way around that. You invest in quality. John [00:07:26]: You invest in things that you love. And through Silk Exchange, we're enabling the possibility of you to consider your, you know, often these these garments do cost quite a bit of money. There's obviously different ranges that you can get into. But if you own something that falls into classic menswear and it's made well and you take care of it, you should be able to consider that item as its own, you know, asset class, as an investment. It's something that you can get money back from if you treat it well. And, you know, as you'll probably hear in this podcast, Chris and I both have our own relationship to classic menswear and to to our journeys. And, part of that was resale and, you know, hunting and sniping, things online and, finding different channels to access, in some cases, the best classic men's wear that there is, you know, the the trendiest stuff, the best made stuff, the stuff that speaks to us on a personal level. And and and we're trying to sort of take that to the next level with Silk Exchange. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:29]: So do you feel that or was it the reason of longevity to classic menswear that sparked your interest in launching this marketplace? John [00:08:40]: Yeah. I think, you know, we're we're not trying to reinvent the wheel here with Silk Exchange. Obviously, we're, you know, aware of of the the resale boom which is happening right now. I mean, just to drop some more data on you, like Completely. So the classic menswear not classic menswear. Sorry. The apparel resale market is set to double, the market value of, retail by 2028. So it's a booming market. John [00:09:10]: That's obviously one of our incentives to get into it from a business point of view. But when you think about it really, you know, we we're all probably familiar with with Grailed and other sort of streetwear, oriented marketplaces, Depop, for instance. That's that's trending right now. But someone raised the question to Chris and I, quite recently and said, where do the guys who grew up on those platforms, you know, who are really interested in streetwear, where do where do they grow when they grow up? Sorry. When do they grow? Oh my god. When do Reginald Ferguson [00:09:42]: they grow up? When do they grow up? And what do they do when they grow up? John [00:09:45]: Right. Where where do they return to when they grow up? Right? What where is the platform for them? And, like, in in both of our cases, Chris and I, probably a little bit more me because I grew up in Toronto. Streetwear was a pretty big fad that I had, and I I used the word fad on purpose because I don't think that streetwear is anywhere, remotely as, timeless as classic menswear. And, you know, in in my case, I I grew up. I got a job and what you know, fashion is still important to me. Now, Mind you, I I do wear a good bit of streetwear on the side. But in my, you know, most I Reginald Ferguson [00:10:19]: haven't seen that on the Gram. Sheesh. It's like you live in a double it's like you live in a double life, John. John [00:10:24]: Scroll down far enough, man. You'll find it. Well, no. I found love with streetwear in Korea. You know? It was, that's where I was like, wow. This is this is something. This is a real, community. This is a real cult following. John [00:10:36]: It's cool. But, yeah, you know, eventually, I think that and I'm not saying you can't be into streetwear all your life, but classic menswear is something different. It's, it's special in its own way just like streetwear is. And, yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:52]: I have to say I didn't have such an issue with, streetwear myself to be on this branch. So I didn't go through that phase. I went straight from, the children's clothes straight into classic style. But, I I think, something that is worth noting here is that, we see, John very well said, or picked the suit as the symbol of classic style. But I would say, you know, classic men's wear as a whole is really something that we see as an enabler, as an empowering force, that, can help people, grow mentally, you know, spiritually, career wise, personally. I've seen it myself. You know, I, for a long time, when I was, a kid, I was, chubby. I was, quite overweight. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:46]: And I I remember, you know, even to this day that, I was looking at the suits and the jackets as something that I couldn't wear because, you know, it wouldn't flatter my body. It wouldn't, you know, it wouldn't be me. And I used to see the suit. I used to see, the jackets. I used to see all the like, everything that you term, classic men's wear today as something, not unattainable or but something to, to fight for, something, you know, the a good way to prove to yourself that, hey. I've made it. I I achieved, something in life. And I think for a long time, that's something that, you know, that we see in in classic style, and that is exactly what, brought Sean and myself together. Reginald Ferguson [00:12:37]: You know? I can give you a bit of, a story there for, Reginald Ferguson [00:12:43]: for this Reginald Ferguson [00:12:43]: context. The way Sean and I met was, a long, long time ago. We were both in, in in the UN model UN space, if you like, and we were quite avid in, trying to to, understand how the world is, working and so forth. And, we we came we we we came to the same event. It was a Monoguen conference in New York, and, actually, I was, one of the organizers, and I was trying to kind of, pick the team. And, one of the team members that joined, the team was John, and it was quite instant, the the kind of, you know, signaling mechanism that existed, with with a suit. Because, you know, of all the people, everyone was, you know, dressed in a suit. But it was very few people that were actually interested in what they were wearing, interested in the little details on the ties, the the handkerchiefs, you know, all those little things that we as class men were enthusiasts like. Reginald Ferguson [00:13:55]: And I remember it was, like, almost like chemistry, you know, like, going on a first date kind of thing. I was like, yes. This this is, my brother. You know? This is a guy that I I I will be good friends with. And that that's how we we, you know, we we started talking and we became friends, and, you know, boom. 7 years after, we were working on creating our own company. But that is exactly the kind of enabling force that we see in, in gadgets. The the thing that, you know, you grow and, alongside that journey, alongside discovering, what dressing well, what dressing nicely, and what taking care of yourself can do to improve your image and bring you ahead of the curve and make you stand out. Reginald Ferguson [00:14:43]: But do you feel, Chris, that having a marketplace, you're really preaching to the converted. Meaning, do you feel that you're able to acquire new customers into classic menswear through the marketplace? Reginald Ferguson [00:15:02]: Yeah. So there there is, 2 ways. I'm gonna go about answering this, Reg. So the first one is there is already, a community out there of classic menswear enthusiasts. And the I'm I'm sure you you, you know, you can appreciate yourself. The community is quite geographically, dispersed. There's not a a central point of, you know, reference. There's not a a central point of, space, if you like, where, enthusiasts can come and talk. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:37]: I mean, there's always, you know, the magazines, the the influencers out there that people follow, but, really, there's not something like a, you know, Facebook, if you like, for customers who are enthusiasts. And a marketplace, would do just about that, especially a marketplace that is specifically tailored and curated to to service this, this this kind of customer. The classic menswear enthusiast, someone who has a a very well defined style and who doesn't want to spend hours or probably likes to spend hours. I mean, I I can I can talk on behalf of both myself and John? We love spending hours, but, we don't wanna spend hours looking through garbage, or we don't wanna spend hours looking through, irrelevant items that, you know, we would never see ourselves wearing or running the risk of getting something that, you know, is counterfeit or, is is is not of high quality. And a marketplace would do just about that, bring everyone together. So that is 1. And then the other one is, we're not just about a marketplace. Right? We we are something beyond that. Reginald Ferguson [00:16:54]: We are a community. As I said before, it's a lot about, talking to people around the world. And as you said earlier in the beginning of the podcast, actually, internationally, our our community is, you know, can be found on all all continents, all places around the world. The good thing is that it's easy to tell when someone is a classmates or enthusiast, if you see them. But in the digital world, it's difficult to, you know, to have a central space where everyone communicates. And, you know, we we we started this as a kind of, Facebook group where we, you know, gather people around, and we saw that there's an actual demand to to have a dedicated marketplace and community, servicing this, this customer. John [00:17:43]: Reg, if I if if you don't mind, if I may just add a little to, what Chris said. I think, you know, part of part of creating this company and building it further from where we are now is, like, we're we're kind of, like, obligated to try and, champion classic menswear for all of those reasons we mentioned earlier. The sustainability aspect, you know, I mean, I'll I'll just kind of add here. We kind of have these 4 main pillars that we try to actively sort of, work around. 1 being enhancing accessibility to classic menswear and and that again sort of taps into, the new generation of classic menswear enthusiasts. And, you know, Chris and I are 25 and 26 years old, so we obviously are familiar with with that demographic, in addition to the classic menswear enthusiasts who who who, precede us. The other thing we we chat we chatted about already with you was about, value retention and kind of reshaping perceptions around the investment in classic menswear and creating a platform where you can get some money back should your style change, should you wanna freshen up your wardrobe. Right? And so this kind of comes down to the idea of promoting a culture of rotation rather than accumulation. John [00:18:58]: Then we have the sustainability bit. Like, we also mentioned the, the classic menswear enthusiast, maybe the most, environmentally friendly consumer in fashion. And then we also have the representation side of things, how we want to reshape the narrative around classic menswear, around, you know, menswear culture and all of those fantastic references that we have from from art and film and cinema and, you know, novels from the sixties fifties and, you know, that kind of golden era. We want to sort of re reshape, what it means to be into classic menswear, and and make sure that, you know, we we promote that accessibility both in the product side and in the representation side of things. Reginald Ferguson [00:19:39]: So for both of you, how do you feel you're creating a community through Silk Exchange? How how are you creating a curated experience? Reginald Ferguson [00:19:49]: So, thanks thanks, Reg. That that's an excellent question. I think it happened very organically, and it happened by really just creating a page. I remember it was, after a trip that I made, over to Bangkok, and, I met up with John. And we we both agreed that, classic style is something that we're both interested in. And boom. There you go. The first milestone was creating an Instagram page. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:15]: And, to a large extent, in our early stages, that Instagram page was a new board, was something that we collated, bringing together, images that we like, and and mind you, it's not just suits that we put up there. Right, as you probably have seen, it's a lot about lifestyle. It's a lot about promoting those different key role role play, not role play. Sorry. Figures, in the class Men's Wear community. And, you know, the the as as that started to grow and as, more people started coming across our page and, you know, giving us a lot of traction on social media, we started expanding. You know? It's not just about, you know, Instagram. After after a while, we we grew over to to Facebook where, you know, the demographic is, quite different, and the the way to create, traction there is quite different. Reginald Ferguson [00:21:24]: It used to be a trendy social medium, around a decade ago, and now, you know, it caters to, a different, kind of, customer. And, that's that's something that we want to to, to tap into. And then, beyond that, seeing that community started to form and, you know, going through the first, 3 k milestone and then the 5 k milestone and then, you know, the 10 k followers milestone. It kind of gave us that momentum that, we're now exploring other social media as well, just to to create that curated experience. And I think, Reg, you put it very, very rightly there. So we have, expand over to Pinterest, to to focus on the visual elements. We're now, taking steps to expand over to LinkedIn, which is, again, different demographic, but, I would say quite key for what we're doing. And, also, we're growing our presence in, on Spotify, which is something that, we started doing recently. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:34]: And, as you can probably appreciate yourself, you know, making sure that our customers and our community members have the whole experience. You know, why not try to approach it from the acoustic side? You know? So, that's, that's always something that we're trying to do to to strive for a holistic experience there and, bringing more more senses. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:00]: So I've been curious about this since we connected. We connected a little less than a month ago, and I follow all your accounts on the gram, as you know. Silk Exchange, the name itself, is this a direct homage to the Silk Road? Reginald Ferguson [00:23:16]: Sean, you wanna take that? John [00:23:18]: Yeah. Yeah. A a little bit for sure. Not just because I'm living in Asia, but, Reginald Ferguson [00:23:23]: Yeah. I was like, well, yeah. I mean Hi. John [00:23:25]: You know? Reginald Ferguson [00:23:26]: You're in Bangkok and Silk Exchange. I'm like, well, I was on the path. So Reginald Ferguson [00:23:32]: To be John [00:23:32]: honest, when Chris and I first started discussing the idea, and mind you, like, we've come so far from just an idea because we we both don't really have programming backgrounds and, we we were, you know, curious how how how on earth are we going to build a 2 ended marketplace, and, you know, scale it with without that background. But, initially, the idea was sort of like I I guess this will lead me into a story about my own kind of classic menswear, background and my own backstory. I used to hustle basically like luxury neckties because I like them. When I was in university, I got really into, classic menswear just, you know, to to kinda look the part and be the part and take myself a little bit more seriously, take my school a little bit more seriously, and just just try to be my best self. And this the the suit my suits kind of facilitated that. And it came back to my, parents who are Polish immigrants in Canada who sort of instilled this idea of always presenting my best self and always, you know, just making an effort to, to to show respect through the clothes I wore and through the way I presented myself. So this kind of led me to a point where I was really tired of fast fashion stuff and my mom picking up my suits and whatever. That's fine. John [00:24:55]: Ended up, like, in in the local classifieds of Toronto and, you know, eventually, I picked up a few nice ties from, I don't know, like Brioni or Zennia, that I that I loved at the time. And then I kind of realized, damn, I picked these up really cheap because, you know, the as it stood, there wasn't really a centralized space for classic menswear resale. And as a result, whoever had that expensive item and put it up on, like, Craigslist or whatever, would be willing to accept my lowball offer because nobody had messaged them about it for the last 6 months. So I ended up picking up like, you know, $300 ties for like 40 bucks, 50 bucks, 60 bucks. And then I found Grailed at some point, maybe in like 2014, 2015. And I was like, Oh, like I'm kind of tired of this tie. It's a beautiful tie. You know, I kept it in, like, pristine condition. John [00:25:51]: I wonder if I can sell it there. And, you know, Grail is not the best place for, for anything other than streetwear really, which is fair. Like, I I love I love Grail for what it was. But it wasn't really the place for me. And so, you know, I ended up anyways, you know, through local classifieds, through other platforms like eBay and and and Grail, for instance, I, you know, would sell a tire too and kind of realize, you know, I could even make some money on on this thing that I enjoyed for a bit. And, you know, I I found this good sort of arbitrage opportunity. And, and yeah. So then Chris came to Bangkok, last year, and we just kind of chatted. John [00:26:27]: And we were talking about things completely other than business. And on his very last, I think even, like, the last hour we had together, I went to soccer practice and he went to the airport. I had kind of mentioned this idea in passing, like, what do you think about a marketplace for, like, secondhand ties? And he was like, oh, it's it was kinda cool. Like, let's talk about it. And then, 2 months later, we had a chat, and I was kind of formalizing this idea, just to see what we could do with it. And, yeah, Silk Exchange kind of came out of that. And that was, I guess, sort of rooted in the idea of this being limited to neckties, instead of the whole range of things that we have, on the site, which I think is fantastic because there's, you know, a bunch of different guys who like different things. Some guys don't like to wear full suits. John [00:27:12]: Some guys only wear full suits. So, we have a, you know, broad range of accessories. We have, sports coats. We have trousers. We have denim. We have, watches and, you know, pocket squares, hand, cuff links, whatever you want. It can all be found there. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:29]: Right. You're, you're definitely soup to nuts. Obviously, I I checked out Reginald Ferguson [00:27:33]: on the on the market case. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:34]: No. I mean, that's that's good. Right? I would think. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:39]: No. But I would say also, right, so just, adding to what John said, so Krishna is as a name did not come about, you know, so like, I mean, you know, it came about very naturally. It wasn't like, we we had, you know, a session where we brainstormed. It was more about, you know, you know, we we like these, and we had so many John, I don't know if you remember. We had so many different names for it, and, you know, we were debating a lot about you know, when when we started talking about, what the business model would be, I think the last thing we decided was the name. And, something that is worth mentioning here is, apart from the Silk Road, it's, you know, that that movement from base to the west, but also, you know, from different parts of the world to to new parts of the world. And, that that kind of, you know, apart from the Silk element, which, I I absolutely love about our name, to be on the stretch, it's, you know, Silk is so such a fine material, and, I encourage you and the the listeners to go and look out, how how it's actually made, and it's it's a tremendous process. And, you know, so much effort is put behind that, and it's exactly so much valued because, it it it it it retains its value. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:04]: It's, it's, it's it it survives the test of time. So that is the one element of Silk Exchange. And then the other element is the exchange part, you know, which is something that, you know, we want to emphasize that thing that, you know, we are a marketplace, but we are beyond the marketplace. We are a place where people can exchange ideas, can exchange, thoughts, views, or not, and so on on trends, on, everything class commence were, related and even, you know, classic lifestyle related, I would say. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:41]: So let's actually talk about the exchange itself. Let's let's let's, get into a little minutia. So I'm a seller. I have some ties. How does the process work? The Fashion Geeks are hosted and powered by Blueberry. John [00:29:59]: That's Blueberry, b l u b r r y. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:03]: Thinking of launching a podcast? Want your episodes to be deployed smoothly? Go to blueberry.com, type in the word fashion, and get a deal on us. John [00:30:11]: Just put in the word fashion. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:12]: Blueberry, always host fly. John [00:30:16]: So, yeah. Basically, I mean, you would go to silkexchange.com. The first thing you would run into is our, you know, categories that you can browse. If you scroll down further, you'll see some of the more interactive community elements that we have, such as our gent of the month feature, and other articles that we have written by other members of our community. So we try to keep that open and, you know, for the reference, if anyone's ever keen to, explore menswear a little bit more formally by by writing about something. We're we're all ears. We're always open to to featuring different voices and different opinions. And, of course, Reg, that is open to you. John [00:30:57]: But as far as as far as how the the platform actually works, we have, you know, you would see a marketplace tab. You would click on that, and that sends you to the the heart and soul of, what we're doing. And, so you'll you'll see a pretty familiar sort of a feed with a bunch of different content of different items and products that you can, you know, explore. So we like to say that Silk Exchange is a community driven marketplace for buying, selling, and exploring classic menswear. So we have we have categories, like I mentioned, a number of them. You can find what you're looking for. You can look through garment sizes. You can look through shoe sizes, shirt sizes, materials, different types of cloth. John [00:31:38]: We have a whole range of that. And so basically, you know, we're trying to make Silk Exchange rooted in the idea of, you know, something that's crafted well over time. But we're also we've also you know, a good question to ask would be, like, what do we mean by classic menswear? And we we had a bit of a since we're still in these early days, it's it's fine to say. We we obviously had a bit of a challenge with, like, where do we draw the line on classic menswear? And to be honest, like, who are we to decide what that means? So we we try to stick to the idea of just well made clothes that are in wearable condition. We have you know, if you were to list an item, you would have a bunch of categories to sort of fill in, ranging from the price, from the quality, from the brand. Also that people on the other end can can find these, products through those filters. And and, you know, we we we try to make sure we we actively monitor the site to try to eliminate, you know, any counterfeit goods that might come up. That hasn't been a problem whatsoever yet. John [00:32:41]: And to to be honest, you know, we try to we'd like to expect anyways that the people who are, browsing Silk Exchange or listing on Silk Exchange are, you know, honorable. We we try to preach that obviously through through the very nature of classic menswear. And, you know, we we we try to keep everything, a tight ship. We try to keep it curated. We try to make sure that, there's only good quality stuff. We we try to make this platform for ourselves, 1st and foremost, and and it's sort of an extension of that. So, you know, you'll you'll find, a really broad range of products there that you can shop, or you can list from, you know, just I'm I'm just opening the page here from, like, a $300, you know, Neapolitan 9 step handmade shirts for $70 to, you know, a ring jacket for the armory, houndstooth blazer that probably retails for somewhere around, like, 1800 US dollars, and it's on sale here in, like, brand new condition for 4.50. So those are the kinds of deals and steals that we're after. John [00:33:49]: You know, from our own personal sort of journeys in classic men's style, these are the things that are important to us. We're trying to bring that barrier down so that more people can enjoy, and be a part of the community in classic menswear. And, and on the other hand, we're trying to make you know, create a platform where people can come and, and get some value back from their past investments and maybe put it forward, towards something else, into their wardrobe through Silk Exchange or not, whatever. We should have the flexibility to leverage these, fantastically kept high quality garments and, rather than just having them waste away. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:27]: Sure. Transactions done PayPal, Stripe, typical? John [00:34:32]: Yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:33]: Yep. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:33]: And sellers pay a 7% commission? Correct. Return shipping. Where is it returning to? John [00:34:46]: I mean, it's, it it returns to, do you mean return shipping, like, where does the item go back? Reginald Ferguson [00:34:53]: Yeah. John [00:34:53]: Yeah. It'll go back to the to the seller. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:58]: Okay. John [00:34:59]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:35:00]: And, John, you had mentioned this, but I'd like you to elaborate. The platform is actively monitored and vetted by community experts. John [00:35:08]: Yes. And with Reginald Ferguson [00:35:08]: these experts. John [00:35:09]: Great. So, this will be a fantastic opportunity for us to enter the discussion about our fantastic team. So we have we have currently 8 people, from around the world, from 4 different continents. Reginald Ferguson [00:35:25]: Right, miss? Mhmm. 4? Yep. John [00:35:26]: Four different continent. We we almost have gender parity, believe it or not, in a classic menswear startup. We have 3 phenomenal young women who are just incredible and, you know, are totally responsible for the success that we've had so far. Different rate, you know, age of range of age groups, different perspectives, all of that, super important. But so we we actively we have, you know, designated people who, at some at some time zone or another will, be monitoring the feed, 247, you know, whether it's Chris in London, me in Bangkok, our team member in Australia, our team member in Toronto, whatever it might be, someone is always browsing once a day, making sure that, the quality is upheld and that, you know, items are legit. And the the beauty of what we're doing is that should, you know, should someone come and and and, you know, be what's the word I'm looking for? Should should, you know, I mean, should should a fake item appear, we have total control to eliminate and ban people. And we also have, a guarantee to our buyers that, buyer protection is guaranteed. And we have a, you know, dispute resolution mechanism sort of set up that, in the case that arbitration is needed, we can facilitate that. John [00:36:55]: And we have, you can see in our, policies, about how it works how how all that works there. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:04]: Okay. Okay. And staff picks, that's between you 2. You guys wrestle every day and try to figure out Reginald Ferguson [00:37:13]: something? No. I actually, it's not so much of a wrestling game. It's more like trying trying to to feed everything that we like, into just, you know, 5 or 6 items up there. I think, it's it's a very organic process, Reg. And, you know, as John mentioned, we are every day all of us everyone around the world, in the team is browsing through the platform. So we are always on the lookout for something new, something cool, which, you know, will will kind of, inform the selection of these, stock picks. And, I think that that's the first stage of, approaching that. And then the second stage is, when when we are reviewing the end of the month, you know, things that we wanna add, to the platform or, where you know, if if we need to push for more jackets in the platform or if we want to to add more shoes, we have started going out in the market and trying to to speak to to people, speak to our network, speak to, retailers, speak to to, people who might have stock. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:36]: And, we try to do it in a way that is targeted, and it helps wipe out these, if if there are any gaps. And so far, the process has been very smooth, and, it's it's it's remarkable what how how many high quality items, were uploaded into the platform within a very, very short period of time. I mean, we launched back in, in December December 11th, and, within, I would say, 2 weeks, we had, more than 100 items up, which is, you know, a big milestone for us. Sure. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:13]: Sure. How do you how does one develop and foster and nurture a supplier network for your marketplace? How does one do that? John [00:39:26]: With a lot of calls like these, Reg. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:31]: I'm not selling any of my stuff. I'm not clothing museum. It's called Ferguson's. You're not taking anything from me. I'm the problem. I'm the problem. Trust me. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:44]: Not so long. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:44]: I'm not yeah. I'm I'm the problem. I'm I really am. That's the delight. That's all I could say. John [00:39:50]: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, we in in my case, between between working for the UN, when I first moved to Bangkok, I spent 3 months working for the Decorum, which is one of the premier, classic men's workshops here in in Thailand. That that toggled me in, real deep into the classic Reginald Ferguson [00:40:08]: men's wear John [00:40:09]: space, online, in person. You know, we have a fantastic robust community of classic men's wear enthusiasts here in Thailand who have supported us to varying extent. You know, we, like like, you can tell from from, my little description about our team, we have, you know, the confidence covered. We have people who are passionate about this stuff. We are people who are passionate about business side of things, and all of that works together to allow us to, you know, really spread ourselves, well, effectively. And, you know, we're we're also just passionate about what we're doing, and that means that when we have calls like these, it tends to leave people a little bit inspired and, you know, we're we're friendly guys. We have a cool mission. We're trying to do something impactful, and people wanna be a part of it. John [00:40:55]: And it really hasn't been a challenge at all. Like, we had sort of expected that, our first approach to to the launch was, like, let's make sure that the marketplace is viable, that, we can start to, you know, create some sort of trust between the users. And and the first step of doing that was to have the supply side sorted. And, just because of how much we were into men's wear, and and the resale market online, you know, we we ended up finding so many people who are looking for a way to step up their sort of, like, online classic menswear resale businesses, or, you know, their little hobbies, of of selling stuff just like I had previously. And and, you know, guys who have nice wardrobes and wanna change once in a while. It's it's proven very, fruitful And, also expanding our networks and having conversations like these, it it's fantastic. It kind of reminds, both Chris and I why we're doing what we're doing and, just sort of strengthens our commitment to to taking this forward. Reginald Ferguson [00:41:59]: So what do you think? And, again, we're talking about a business that is entering its 1st month. What do you think separates you currently from other marketplaces like Luxwap, the Shoe Snob Exchange, and eBay? Reginald Ferguson [00:42:17]: Yeah. That's that's an excellent question. And, you know, I think, Reg, it's it's worth looking at what we do, in 3 different, categories with 3 different lens, if you like, to that that that will help answer that, you know, unique selling point question, if you like. First one is online. You know, we are an online marketplace. So, that's something that, has proven, its strengths, especially now with COVID. And, you know, online, marketplaces are, are booming, across the different, sectors in the market. So we're trying to to ride that wave as well. Reginald Ferguson [00:43:02]: The second lens is, menswear. Like John mentioned, you know, menswear, specifically, menswear, is a a side or a part of the market that is gaining a tremendous traction. John mentioned earlier that, it's it's about to to to double within the next few years. And, over the last, few years, you know, we are experiencing what we call, a renaissance, in menswear, which, you know, some people like to call menescence, if you like. So we're an online menswear marketplace. But there's a third layer to that. We are, a sustainable fashion marketplace. We're a marketplace where, we're not just selling, you know, new items that, stay on the racks. Reginald Ferguson [00:44:05]: We attract those, but we also attract and we try to incentivize, users, customers like yourself, to to literally open their wardrobes and look, is there something that I I'm not gonna use again? Is there something that I don't necessarily like? Is there something that doesn't fit me anymore? These are all questions alongside many other things. You know? I I had that kind of moment, yesterday when I came back to London from holidays, and I was like, I I don't think I'm gonna wear this pink shirt, this specific pink shirt, ever again. Mainly because, you know, it remind me of a certain time of my life and, you know, it's, the color doesn't suit me anymore, blah blah blah. So I was like, perfect. So I think the best way to utilize and retain the value of something that is of high quality and high value you know, we're not talking about, very, you know, low low priced items. We're talking about items that we have invested in historically. Take them out of the wardrobe and put them out in the in the platform. You know? Do help other people around the world experience the same moments, the same, pride that you had while wearing them. Reginald Ferguson [00:45:26]: And this is really I think that that sums up, you know, why how we are different from all those other marketplaces out there. There's a saturation in the market, but, when it comes to a community driven, class menswear marketplace that focuses on resale and sustainable fashion, I that's that's exactly what we're pitching, and that's exactly how, we have generated all these, milestones in the very short period of time that, that has been since the launch. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:04]: Well, I'll tell both of you gentlemen this. I have never looked at a marketplace and seen a $7,000 Vicuna coat. John [00:46:14]: I knew that was coming. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:15]: My god. Guys, you you're balling. That's all I'm saying. Sheesh. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:22]: We're all about quality here. And and John [00:46:26]: and vicuna. You know who has a vicuna jacket? Two chains. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:32]: Okay. John [00:46:33]: Yeah. I watched I watched that on Reginald Ferguson [00:46:34]: on a I'm old school I'm old school golden age, John. Okay. That's not doing that's not doing anything for me. I'm a new one. Okay. That's not yes? John [00:46:40]: That's good. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:41]: Yeah. If you had said future, I might have been more intrigued, but Uh-huh. John [00:46:45]: That's good. You should probably have one too. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:47]: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. So why don't both of you gentlemen tell me beyond the, Vicuna coat, what are your favorite items currently on the exchange? John [00:47:00]: Great question. Reginald Ferguson [00:47:02]: John, you wanna go for it? John [00:47:04]: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Before Chris gets out his wallet. Reginald Ferguson [00:47:11]: It's fine. It's fine. I still owe you a Christmas person and birthday present, John. So that was a great idea. John [00:47:19]: Yeah. Yeah. No. But, recently I mean, we have we have, like, really a community of really great sellers. And, you know, just just to add on to what Chris was saying previously, like, we we had so much positive feedback about, like, the decentralization of the, classic menswear resale market and, like, where do I even go to sell this, nice top or this nice pair of shoes or whatever. Right? And there should be a place. That's that's it. Like, you know, we we had that need, and we kind of realized, though. John [00:47:49]: Like, a lot of guys who are into classic menswear probably also, want a dedicated community for this kind of stuff. And it's it's there for street wear. It's there for, you know, like, for women's clothing. Why for dresses even. There's these niche markets for dresses. Why why isn't there one for this? So it just made sense. But, as far as my favorite items, like, what would I buy right now? Actually, I I I'm really guilty, and I've already bought 5, 5 shirts from Silk Exchange. It's not my best customer apparently. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:19]: Yeah. No. Hey. That's, that's good. John [00:48:22]: No. No. But there's I mean, like, you know, I'm I'm men's wear addicted, so, this is a pretty challenging thing to to balance for myself because, like, so many great deals. Not selling not selling right now, but just, my my own opinion. Like, there's so many things that I would buy here. I think, like, just just out of my obsession for ties, like, there's some really fantastic, Spakka Neapolitan, hand rolled printed silk ties, from a fantastic seller who's recently joined us. Brand new, mint condition. I think they even might have tags. John [00:48:58]: And, I don't know if you're familiar with Niccolo Bordano, but he's, like, Italian style icon, you know, our age. And, he's someone I really look up to, and he started his own brand, called Spaca Neapales, and, fantastic. Reginald Ferguson [00:49:11]: Oh, I think I read about him in Reginald Ferguson [00:49:14]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:49:14]: In The Rake or something. John [00:49:16]: Probably. I I wouldn't Yeah. Yeah. Probably wouldn't be surprised if his, his brand is being stocked there. But, yeah, really fantastic. I I've had the chance to handle them a few times and, yeah, just really fantastic hand rolled blades, wonderful colors that pop. And, like, the cool thing about Italian style and, you know, I guess, maybe we can go into a bit of a conversation about our own styles. But, I'm really you know, just given the climate here in Bangkok, I'm I'm really growing an affinity for, for Italian style and for that soft tailoring and for the the colors and the bold patterns and just kind of dressing down formal wear, because I do find myself in a suit quite often, and, I like to do it a little different. John [00:50:02]: So, these these ties are fantastic because they offer you a little bit of versatility. You don't have to just be a guy in a suit, but you can be, you know, looking a little cooler than than someone else. So, yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:50:13]: I I mean, John [00:50:14]: I don't know if you've taken a look at those ties, but there's, so many different options and, like yeah. Probably have one for every day of the month, if I could. Reginald Ferguson [00:50:22]: My ties have ties, John, so I'm not looking at any ties. Christopher, what's yours? Reginald Ferguson [00:50:29]: Yeah. So, interestingly enough, we had this conversation, a few days ago with, with John. We we regularly talk pretty much on a daily basis, about what we like and, you know, what what do we wanna, kind of, keep up or, you know, try to kind of, feature in our Instagram page. But it was that time that we actually talked about actually, you know, as John said, taking out the wallet and start buying. So, from my end, I've already, bought, a shirt and, an item that I would be eyeing next is an amazing, Brooks, jacket, sports coat, that, you know, is in a in a great condition. Actually, 2 of them. And, you know, they they normally retail for a much higher price. And, now we have them in the region of, 200, something dollars, which, you know, very high quality, 3 season, wool, coats, very, you know, casual, but at the same time, can be worn in, you know, in more formal, occasions as well, and that's coming even from someone in London. Reginald Ferguson [00:51:54]: So I would definitely go for these. There is another, pair of trousers, a lot of Piana, pair of trousers that I absolutely love. And I think, John, next time I'm in a I'm able to travel and I'm somewhere in a warmer environment, I will definitely invest, and get, that. It's, white, very, you know, light material and, very very nice for the summer months. Probably when I go back to Greece, in the summer, hopefully, will be allowed. But that is another one which, you know, normal price is, 750, dollars, and now it's in the marketplace for a 150, which is, you know, a great saving. And it gets you as a customer or as someone on the demand side, it gets you interested. You know? Are you if you were if you were interested in experimenting with, you know, wide linen, trousers, you wouldn't do it for $700, I would assume. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:58]: But with a 150, you know, it's it becomes a sweet deal, if you like. And then apart from the ties that John mentioned, I think there is an amazing variety of great shoes. Now my problem with the shoes that we have, is that I, I wear, 46, in European size. So Reginald Ferguson [00:53:19]: Yep. Reginald Ferguson [00:53:20]: It it proves to be a bit trickier. So, you know, that's that's, something that, you know, I we need to to, expand on. But, for for smaller shoe sizes, there's great variety of shoe sizes. And in fact, I I messaged one of our sellers, to say, hey. Is there any chance you might have the same size, the same, pair of shoes, of 5 sizes bigger? But, unfortunately, that that will happen soon, though. Reginald Ferguson [00:53:51]: Exactly. Hang in there, Chris. So I wanna ask both of you this question and answer separately. What does always be fly mean to you? John [00:54:05]: I'm I'm more than happy to go first if you want, Chris. Reginald Ferguson [00:54:08]: Please go for it. John [00:54:10]: I think, you know, some of the by the way, Raj, I I really love what you're doing. Really love the the message you're spreading and, you know, doing you. I think it's really important to to hear these different sorts of voices in the current state of menswear. We don't see it often enough. So, I really appreciate the opportunity to be here, first of all. But as far as, like, always be fly, I I I take it in a more, like, classic sense. I think that classic menswear, like we had discussed earlier, it's a it's a vehicle for, you know, in my case, projecting my best self. It's a reason, you know, that I enjoy waking up in the morning, putting on my clothes, putting on an outfit, trying to look fly, trying to look, you know, feel confident, trying to to look the part and be the part. John [00:54:56]: And in my case, you know, I work for the UN. I'm 25 years old. It's, it's a pretty unique situation to be in, in my case. And, I think that getting into tailoring and getting into classic menswear deeper and deeper, like, you know, I'm a I'm a total menswear geek or nerd, whatever. It's, it's kinda given me something to make a name out of myself with. Like, I don't wanna say I'm the best dressed in the office, but sometimes it feels that way. And at least, you know, I I dress with intention. And I I think that's that's that's that's kinda what it means to me, you know, to, just just always keep that in the back of your mind. John [00:55:35]: Always try to, you know, present your best self. Do it for yourself. And yeah. Chris? Reginald Ferguson [00:55:44]: Yeah. I think, I would answer that, in two ways. I think the first way is, how John described that external signal that you give out, to the world. You know? I'm I'm here, you know, you know, I'm here for the promotion. I'm here to talk. I'm here to network. That's how Joan and I met. That's that's how we were able to to meet other classic mentor enthusiasts in the good old days that we were able to go to networking events. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:19]: However, that is only one side of the coin. I think, being fly is also equally important when it comes to looking at yourself from within, and, you know, that that confidence boost that you can have when you're wearing a nice, jacket, you know, one of those Brooks Brothers jackets that I mentioned earlier probably, or, you know, a nice pair pair of trousers. It's really that confidence boost that, can get you into a room. And instead of, you know, wearing, you know, your your lazy pants, you know, that we are all accustomed to these days, unfortunately, Getting into a room and really feeling like the best version of yourself and speaking that way, presenting yourself that way, that is always something that is triggered by feeling comfortable with what you're wearing. And as I said, you know, better times will come, and, you I I experienced it in my everyday, routine when the days that I just stick with my, sweatpants and, you know, my my hoodies, these are days that are very, you know, uneventful, if you like. The days that I feel the best version of myself and the best, Christopher, possible. These are the days that I wake up, I take care of myself, I do my morning grooming routine, and I put on a freshly ironed shirt, nice pair of trousers, an amazing jacket, provisionally with a nice dye, and it just broke the day. These are the days that make difference and make us grow as humans. John [00:58:18]: Reg I Reginald Ferguson [00:58:19]: thought you have to say. John [00:58:20]: Sorry to cut you off, Reg. Just can I can I add a little bit to my, my answer as well? I had a thought. Reginald Ferguson [00:58:29]: Okay. John [00:58:30]: So just just because, like, being fly, it's, you know, it's a it's a unique way to frame what we're talking about. And, with like, one thing that comes to mind, there's, like, there's a new store that's popped up here in Bangkok called Spritzatura Alaganza. Spritzatura is this, you know, buzzword that's been flying around in the hashtag menswear community lately. A lot of people don't know what it means exactly. But it's just kinda like the art of nonchalance. And I think because I tend to gravitate towards Italian style instead of, you know, English and French schools of tailoring, for instance, I think, you know, the Italians, they they know what it's like to be fly, and and they they do something unique with the soft tailoring, with the drape. It's a little bit cooler and less rigid and more, less less structured, and just kinda more chill, a a more chill approach to tailoring. And so, you know, it's like walking in for me, it's like the difference between walking into a menswear shop that's playing some, like, you know, old school jazz, versus something you know, you walk into a menswear shop and they're playing something that makes you wanna dance. John [00:59:43]: And, and, yeah, I think that's, you know, part of it for me too. Reginald Ferguson [00:59:48]: I like it.
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