Bernhard Roetzel: “I have a passion for second hand clothes since I was about 15 or 16”

Bernhard Roetzel: “I have a passion for second hand clothes since I was about 15 or 16”

Vulpilist Magazine brings you regular interviews of influencial menswear men and women – bloggers, craftmen, businessmen…

Meet Bernhard Roetzel

Father of 5, man of taste, menswear writer and fashion journalist, occasional guitar player at Pitti Uomo. Bernhard Roetzel is one of the few people that made classical menswear live for the past 20 years.

When classical elegance was yet to be rediscovered in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Bernhard strongly contributed to its rebirth by publishing Gentleman: A timeless guide to Fashion. This bible influenced the new sartorial era to come in 2005-2010 powered by forums and blogs. 

He kept writting books since then such as A guy’s guide to StyleA guy’s guide to Shoes and Gentleman Lookbook. Bernhard Roetzel’s Instagram is very active and the journalist also leads Der Feine Herr, a news website about menswear and craftmanship.

Vulpilist Magazine: Beside being a menswear aficionado, can you tell us more about your occupations? What led you to copywriter in a Advertising agency to menswear author in the 90’s?

I’ve been a professional writer since 1992, first in advertising and PR, later also as a script-editor for TV shows. Menswear has been my passion since the late 1980s. I never thought I’d ever write about menswear until I had the idea for my book Gentleman. After it had been published I slowly built a reputation as a menswear journalist.

VL: How do your relatives consider your passion for menswear? Are your children following your path?

My children are still very young and each child has a different character. They all show interest in clothes but time will have to tell if it will become a passion. Two of my sons have become good photographers in recent months and they help me a lot with photos that they shoot of me.

VL: What is the story behind the inception of Gentleman: A timeless guide to Fashion?

Originally I wanted to write a book about the best menswear from the different countries of the world. The publishing house used “Gentleman” as a working title and first I didn’t like it at all. I’ve learned to live with it in the past decades.

VL: More than 20 years after writing Gentleman: A timeless guide to Fashion do you think you succeeded in describing the timeless style you talked about? Would you change anything to your book today?

When I look at the first edition I am still very happy. I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with every photo but still it is impressive that most pictures were shot exclusively for this book. And the book was completely financed by the publishing house, we didn’t have any sponsors.

VL: You are a book author and you are very present on social networks. How do you see the balance between the world of images and immediacy and the world of publishing? How do they influence each other?

Instagram didn’t exist when I started out as a menswear writer. It is a fantastic mean of communication and information. Instagram is suited perfectly to what I do.

The world of the printed word is different of course because you cannot change anything until you reprint the book. This leads to a more focused approach.

VL: Second hand is a booming trend for the past 10 years in all clothes areas. How do see classical menswear evolution regarding second hand in the coming years? 

Second hand clothes have a long history that goes back to the 18th century when many people couldn’t afford new clothes unless we speak of peasants that made their own clothes from linen that they produced themselves. Second hand clothes are messages from the past and very important to teach younger people about styles and materials of the past.

VL: You often thrift menswear. Could you tell us why? What is your favorite moment when thrifting? What are the most unforgetable garments or accessories you have found?

I have passion for second hand clothes since I was about 15 or 16. At school I always wore a shirt, cotton chinos or corduroys and a sportsjacket and I loved to look for jackets from the past.

As a student I worked in a very interesting second hand store and I learned a lot about clothes there. Later I frequently bought old clothes in London and I still love looking for used things.

Nowadays I mostly buy chino trousers from American brands because I cannot find the style with forward pleats off the rack. I also like to buy overcoats, ties, shirts and jackets. One of the most cherished finds was an almost unworn pair of back Grafton brogues from Church’s that I found in a shop in King’s Road in London. I’ve worn them for many, many years as a student and a young professional.

VL: Let’s imagine you are going to spend 3 days in Paris, where you’ll have business meetings, a vernissage in an art gallery and a formal cocktail, and one day to chill in the French capital city with your beloved one. Your suitcase can only contain 2 jackets, 2 trousers, 2 pairs of shoes 3 shirts and 2 ties and pocket square. What would you pick? 

I’d probably wear one glencheck suit with a light blue shirt and a navy knitted silk tie, a white linen pocket square suit with a pair of black Oxfords.

I’d pack a sportsjacket, one pair of cavalry twill trousers, more shirts than just two, a Burgundy knitted wool tie and brown suede shoes.

On the journey I’d also wear garbardine coat and a soft travelling Trilby.

The Fox found all pieces of Bernhard Roetzel’s travel outfit on! Have a look:

First day:

Second day:


Vulpilist: Thank you Bernhard, it was a pleasure. See you soon!