Tweed Pig Pin-Up - Johan Ekelund

Johan Ekelund - Sharp & Dapper

I've been reading about King Canute. We may think we have a special relationship with the former colonies, but we have a considerably older one with Scandinavia going back to the 10th century. Canute was King of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden and is buried in Winchester Cathedral, the one-time capital of England. Well I say special relationship. It was all a bit bloody.

And the special relationship continues (less bloodily). Our latest Tweed Pig Pin-up, Johan Eklund, is a Swede based in dizzy London and is Director of Sharp and Dapper the shirt stays people. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about the photo Johan.

About the Photo

Johan explains:

"I work part-time in a bar called Happiness Forgets located in Hoxton Square, London, as well as running Sharp & Dapper. We design and make shirts stays and design other clothing accessories for men. I was talked into doing the No Trouser Tube Ride in my shirt stays last year and repeated the experience again in January this year.

"I confess that I get a lot of laughs when people see the shirts stays, but when I keep my trousers on people are generally very impressed with how smart my shirt looks. I haven’t needed to tuck my shirt in for several years and I am looking forward to not needing to do so in the future.

"I am learning how to make my own tie-yourself bow ties. The one I’m wearing in the picture I made the day before the event. Tying a bow tie is a skill every man should have in his repertoire."

The Shirt Companion

How did Johan discover shirt stays and start Sharp & Dapper? Read on:

"I have been working in hospitality since I was 14 years old and started bartending when I was 18. Coming to London from Sweden in 2007, I managed to get a job in one of the better bars in town where I learned about drink making and everything that involves.

"Working in several bars where appearance is important I started to take a bit more interest in the way that I dressed and all the accessories that come with that. One day browsing the internet for braces, I came across an odd looking set of elastic straps that was said to prevent the wearer's shirt from riding up out of the trousers. The shirt would always look nicely tucked in as well the socks remain pulled up.

"Being a fan of weird ideas I bought a set and once it arrived about 4 years ago I haven’t gone a day without them. (When I wear a shirt that is). At the time I didn’t think anymore of it, but went on making drinks for a few years.

"One Sunday I was walking around in my room cleaning up and picked up the shirt stays that I had worn for the last 2 years wondering why no one in the UK knows about them, not to mention makes them. I sat down and did some research and found out that they are made in the US as well as Asia.

"The only market were they are still used is in America where shirt stays are worn by the military as well as some police forces.

"The day after at work I told a colleague about my idea to start making shirt stays and he was very quick to ask if I wanted a business partner. Not having any ideas about how to start a business, I said yes, which proved very useful.

"Knowing how useful they are for bartenders I got on Ebay and ordered the components needed to make a few on my own. I also went to Argos and bought their second cheapest sewing machine and I started making a few rough samples for some friends to try out.

"The feedback was incredible! People loved them and this gave us the motivation needed to continue developing the product, sourcing great elastics as well as higher quality fasteners and adjusters.

"Since the start in 2011 we have sold over 4000 sets all over the world and have received some incredible reviews from people who've never seen them before. Fantastic Man magazine called them 'a minor life-changing experience'.

"We are very proud of our product and learning new things regarding style and in November 2012 we updated our website to add more products to our range, including braces, clip-on buttons and socks.

"Men need to have these kinds of accessories in their wardrobes. Maybe you wouldn't want to wear the shirt stays every day, but they're perfect for when you want to look your absolute best - even if it’s only once a year for an important meeting or, even more importantly, a wedding."


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