Interview: Johnny Li of Dappertude Launches Sydney’s First Men’s Fashion Seminar

Johnny Li was born and lives in Sydney, and if you saw him around on the street, you’d almost certainly find him dressed in a suit with a pocket square. His 9 – 5 job is in digital marketing and has the occasional Friday drinks with his mates in the city. Outside of his 9 -5 he is the man behind Dappertude, a men’s accessories brand which exudes all things ‘dapper’. What is ‘dapper’ I hear you ask? We’ll let Johnny explain that one, but the store features all the accessories a man could possibly want to compliment almost any outfit.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Johnny to hear what makes him tick, as well as hear more about the Dappertude Seminar that he’s planning in July 2016.

men stand stair with wear suit pocket square

What was the inspiration behind starting Dappertude?

I came across my first dapper accessory “the pocket square “while working overseas in Asia, it was a small boutique shop and I was wearing a suit (with no accessories) and the guy came up to me and threw a pocket square on me and turned me to the mirror and said “look, do you feel different?”. The moment I looked at the mirror I saw a changed man, a man with style, an individual, not a follower of the “navy suits, white shirt, no accessories businessman.” That’s where it began and I wanted the gentlemen at home to feel what I felt and so the birth of Dappertude began.

What does being “Dapper” mean to you?

To me dapper means a few things including dressing in a way which inspires others, dressed like a gentlemen and creating your own individual style with a suit and still have that chivalry perception.

creating your own individual style with a suit

Who works with you on Dappertude? It looks like you’ve got a lot of influencers partnering with the brand?

Hopefully this isn’t shocking but I mainly run Dappertude on my own with a little help from an intern, but in terms of partnering that’s a different story.

I created a group of Dappertudists, who I have handpicked to work together to create a brotherhood and culture where we me meet up for coffee and catch up or even all meet in a city and take squad photoshoots, no matter if we are in different states or not i.e the previous photoshoot for my new lapel pin release, one Dappertudist flew from Melbourne and another from Adelaide all in support for Dappertude. Besides just promoting Dappertude products they also are an inspiration to other men who are interested in the dapper style. I really owe the Dappertudists a lot because without them, I don’t think Dappertude would be where it is today. Other than the Dappertudists, I also work with a few Australian influencers like Shaun Birley who’s an absolute legend and also Vinh, the Curated Gentlemen. I definitely believe that to be successful you need to collaborate and partner with others and who’s better to collaborate with than the gentlemen of your home country, Australia.

How important are accessories to an outfit?

Accessories to an outfit is super important unless you want to be THAT guy who wears the same coloured suit that everyone else is wearing and just follow them. Without accessories you can’t show your own individuality, personality and style.

wear the men colour suit

Could you tell us a bit more about your new pocket square silk scarf range?

I wanted to introduce some elegance into this year’s winter with the release of my range of limited edition scarves, they are all made from 100% silk. The scarves are definitely for the gentlemen who want to add some attitude to their already dapper look, the designs are mainly paisley and are available in different colours. As it’s a limited edition release there will only be a small amount available and I believe they will go out the door.

They will be available instore in a few weeks.

What’s the best way for a guy to fold a pocket square?

Now this is a tough question, to be honest there is no best way since all folds are different, but I can tell you what the easiest fold is for gents who are getting into pocket squares.

It’s quite hard to explain but I’ll try my best

Pick it up the middle of the pocket square with your thumb and index finger and use your other hand to pull together the bottom of the square and put that side in the pocket, your pocket square should look be rounded from one side of the pocket to the other.

walking guy to fold a pocket square

What are three fashion mistakes a lot of guys make?

I’ve seen some pretty bad mistakes but the top three are definitely: Wearing a tie while its loosely undone and top button of the shirt undone; A suit and tie is not just a piece of clothing, they represent you so wear it with pride. These 2 are equal winners, wearing white socks and/or runners with your suit; definitely a big no no gents.

What are five essential items every man should have in their wardrobe?

I believe every man’s wardrobe should have a non-black well fitted or tailored suit, a coloured sports coat for your semi casual days/nights, a white well fitted/ tailored shirt which is ironed, a pair of brogues or oxfords; possibly brown, to go with the suit pants and lastly a favourite pocket square; sure you know why.

smiling men wear different suit

What are some tips guys can implement to quickly improve their style?

The quickest ones would be to iron your shirts, don’t wear white socks; go out and buy a pair of colourful socks, NEVER wear runners with your suit and lastly invest in a pocket square, it costs less than 3 schooners and it will change your whole outfit.

You’re busy planning Sydney’s first gentlemen’s fashion seminar in July. What can people expect when they come along to the event?

The event I have planned is to help educate the gentlemen and guide them onto the dapper path. When you walk out the door of the finished seminar you can expect:

– A goodies bag in your hands worth over $150 in products and gift vouchers from sponsored brands.
– To have learnt the knowledge of accessorizing, suiting and grooming.
– To be hydrated from alcohol
– To be possibly the winner of “best dressed” which includes just over $1200 worth of goods including a free tailored suit.
– To be possibly the winner of “best sock game” winning 12 months subscription of socks.
– To be inspired by our panel of Instagram influencers
– To have taken heaps of photos and snapchatted a lot.

So if you feel being ‘dapper’ is your thing, or if you want to simply learn more about it, make sure to check out Sydney’s first gentlemen’s fashion seminar, focused on guiding you onto the dapper path with the help of local brands and influencers. There’s a limited ticket release of 110 so you bet be quick.

The Dappertude Seminar
Date: Saturday July 16 2016 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: Hotel CBD, Fourth Floor, 52 King St, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Tickets are available here.

Silk scarf & feature image shot by Grace Petrou.