What started for Johnny Li, as a simple interest in bringing pocket squares to Australia, would soon transform into a major platform of fashion inspiration for men. When the simple accessories of pocket squares caught Johnny’s eye, he immediately wanted to bring it to Australia and introduce it as a fashion item.

“At the beginning it started as an e-commerce brand, because I thought pocket squares was cool and I could bring this kind of fashion to Australia,” says Johnny.

However, during his time in Hong Kong, Johnny also noticed the fashion differences between Hong Kong and Australia. “There were major differences, but I thought that Australia was a place that had unwoken potential,” says Johnny. “I wanted to communicate to the average Australian that they can dress like this and it’s not hard at all.”

“I am nothing special, I’m just a regular guy,” says Johnny, “You don’t have to have a great body or be a model to look good in a suit. More importantly being dapper is not just about the appearance but a way of thinking as well”. Johnny felt something special about transforming the average man into a gentleman and decided that inspiration and education was the key model Dappertude would use. “I wanted to build a diverse platform, having content that people love while being educational at the same time.”

With this in mind. Dappertude was born, a platform with a mission to share, educate and inspire.

It became a fashion avenue dedicated to different aspects of men styling. Its core purpose: guide men into the dapper path, to create a spirit of passion to help men into the realm of being a gentleman. Through education, inspiration and networking, Dapptertude are innovators in Australia, becoming a major media platform, shop and community to inspire gentlemen fashion.

Dappertude is short for ‘dapper’, which means being neat and trim in dress and appearance, merging with ‘attitude’ to translate into a way of thinking and feeling personified by the gentlemen way.

Johnny, the founder of Dappertude not only empowers his passion through his brand but also through his personal dress code. “I work in digital marketing and no one wears a suit unless it’s’ a really important meeting but I wear it everyday,” says Johnny. “Dress for success, it’s a code I  carry. For 4 years straight, I have been constantly wearing a full suit, every day even Fridays.”

Dappertude has now become a unique platform as an influencer in men’s fashion, inspiring the average man on ways to approach the gentlemen form of fashion. They have held successful seminars in both Melbourne and Sydney influencing an array of men in the knowledge of being a gentleman.

Dappertude has also branched out with pillars of Dappertude, concepts that involve defining the gentleman’s way of lifestyle. “There is whiskey with Dapppertude, where we partner with well-known whiskey brands, there’s Dappertude x Food, where we are looking to really bring out style and food when they go together,” says Johnny. “There’s some interesting ways you can merge the gentleman way with other kind of fields to inspire the community.

The concepts behind being ‘Dapper’

In the changing time of fashion, I asked Johnny if Australian men were dressed well enough or if they even care compared to other countries. “Australia has always had a laid back style and I totally love it. In terms of suiting up, I think they have improved a lot, but they are behind the global trend, 4 or 5 years behind,” says Johnny. “They just need to feel that desire to start suiting up and that comes with education. I mean men generally know about the pocket square but if they don’t know how to wear it properly, they lose confidence and would rather not wear it.”

Dappertude prides itself on first inspiring the average man and then educating them so that they can have the knowledge to make suiting decisions by themselves. It is entrenched on its mission statement, a mission to bring the average man to the gentleman path.

Johnny reiterates that education is key in guiding the average man to the dapper path. “There are so many ways to wear the tie, the pocket square, tailoring, proper shoes. When they have the knowledge, they will gain the confidence to make the purchase themselves,” says Johnny.

The essence of being dapper as a lifestyle, however, can be cost worthy. The defining perception people have when they see well-dressed suits is the money that goes behind it. But Johnny provides a different point of view when looking at the cost of this lifestyle.

“You don’t need to spend lot of money. Start off with simple things, tuck in your shirt, tabs for your pants. You don’t need to buy thousand dollar tailored suits, just find a suit that fits you best. If it doesn’t fit, get it altered, or just go online to eBay and buy a simple pocket square and a nice tie,” says Johnny. “People do see and notice that extra effort you are doing to get better yourself, and it just helps with the overall confidence and persona you present yourself in.”

“You wear what you become, and in the end I want Dappertude to become a forefront in learning to become a gentleman and investing in yourself.”

Journo for ECX Magazine

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