‘I’ve been an old soul since day one,’ says, Sihel Sinahs, an Eritrean, Italian Swede with a foot in the past and one in the future, when talking about style, music, and values.‘
The man who many know as the Humble Dapper is dripping with sartorial elegance, whether he is dressed in vintage Burberry coats, Herringbone jackets, or classic and timeless bespoke Jakob Krebs.
Born in Tuscany and raised in Rome, before moving to Gothenburg, Sweden in 1998, he began his career as an event promoter and DJ at the age of 20. Since he can remember, he was into soulful and funky music, old school all the way. That’s how he entered the scene and grew Into promoting live shows for artists such as The Zapp Band, D’angelo, Ginuwine, Musiq Soulchild, Adina Howard, Montell Jordan, Joe Thomas, The Brand New Heavies, and many more. He was the first and last person to bring many of these artists to Scandinavia.
Passionate about quality, craftsmanship, and architecture, the man with the dark brooding eyes, has been doing a little bit of everything in the intervening years. He has been on a journey, learning about himself and business, and today runs his own vintage blog on Instagram promoting the importance of circularity and teaching people the nightmare of reconstructing vintage garments to fit ones body perfectly. ‘The struggle is real’, he laughs, ‘but the results are satisfying.’ It is an adventure he started back in 2019 and he has never looked back: ‘This is truly a lifelong commitment and is hopefully something that will leave a mark long after I am gone.’
THE OLD WORLD
What makes Sihel stand out is his ability to make any outfit and combination look stylish. Not an easy thing to pull off. But he does it with panache. Meander through his social media and you’ll be in awe of his collection of outfits. Unique and captivating, and a million miles away from the preening, pouting influencers of this generation. You can imagine him rubbing shoulders with Marlon Brando and other stars from a bygone age in blues bars across Chicago, or holding court in 1920’s Paris alongside F.Scott Fitzgerald as the sounds of Josephine Baker played poetically through the night. What is it that influences his style though? ‘Definitely the old world. I particularly admire the 1930s and 40’s.’ He looks thoughtfully for a minute when I ask him where he sources his wardrobe from. ‘EBay and Etsy for sure. They are absolute gold mines for vintage. You gotta have patience though and know how to scoop them up.’
High-waisted trousers and long overcoats are The Humble Dapper’s trademark, as is his love for Hollywood trousers, and corduroy trousers, he also has a particular penchant for camel coats particularly. ‘Trousers absolutely have to be double pleated. A Newsboy cap and fedora are a must. I also love a waistcoat. Brown palette all day, I love it. My favourite shoe style is the loafer and my favourite pattern is the Prince of Wales closely followed by the houndstooth.’ Sihel’s, enthusiasm for fashion is palpable. Spend 5 minutes in his company and I dare you not to share his same zest for life.
We are now living in an era, where people are beginning to wake up to the consequences of fast fashion. We are no longer sleepwalking into the future unaware of the importance of promoting slow and sustainable fashion.
However, there is still much to do, and unfortunately, as it stands, fast fashion is still king. For Sihel though, slow fashion is the only way to go. ‘We have been sold the lie that fast fashion is what people want. Slow fashion is to me a much better choice. It’s cheaper and lets you build a functional wardrobe that helps you on a daily basis rather than take your time and money without a lasting effect. It is very important, especially in this particular timeframe where we need to think about our planet but also our wallet.’
He’s not wrong. If you were to look at the fashion of today, could you confidently predict that any of it will be sought after in 30 to 40 years time? Will it have the style, sophistication, and joie de vivre of a white oxford button-down shirt? I think not. There is a reason that clothes tailored 80 years ago can still be reused and recycled today. Because they represent quality tailoring.
‘Investing in slow fashion and timeless quality is, therefore, a win-win in the long run,’ Sihel says. ‘It will last you a lifetime without ever going out of fashion. You can then pass the garments on to your children.’ One of Sihel’s secrets to creating a fashionable look is that he doesn’t just purely do vintage, but also incorporates new garments created by ateliers and clothing brands that work sustainably and in small quantities. The best of both worlds, that’s his secret formula. New quality garments from these companies will cost you more than your average vintage piece however, they will last a lifetime. ‘You just gotta take care of your pieces, brush them, steam them, keep them nicely folded.’
YOU JUST GOTTA FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE TO KNOW WHAT SUITS YOU
Italy is my favorite country in the world. Always has been always will be. The culture, the people, the food, the weather. Everything. To me, it’s heaven on earth. Sweden isn’t too bad either. For Sihel he is proud to have called both countries his home. But what is life like in Gothenburg and how does it compare with Rome? ‘Gothenburg is great, it’s all about sustainability, It is a great cultural spot and invests a lot into the future. I do miss Rome a lot though! The weather can be an obstacle but you learn to co-exist with it. The opportunities are endless here so it balances that out. You just gotta figure out who you are to know what suits you. I like being in Sweden but also the beauty and freedom of living that Rome has to offer.’
‘I’ve been an old soul since day one.’
– The Humble Dapper
Gothenburg is a city immersed in nature and the West Sweden tourist board is a pioneer in pushing the importance of sustainability. ‘Wherever you are located you can actually step out from the concrete and find yourself in beautiful Swedish nature. If you ever come through make sure you visit Botaniska and Slottskogen.’ He smiles, ‘fun fact is that Rome is the greenest city in Europe so they have that in common!’
IF IT’S SOULFUL I WILL DIG IT OUT
Sihel’s love of music is as eclectic and interesting as his passion for sartorial styling. Music and fashion are both to an extent expressive art forms, that play such a key role in culture and society today. They both have such an influence on the other. Does fashion exist to the extent it does without music and vice versa? ‘Music is as important to me as classic style has turned out to be in the past 3 years. I have always loved music and it has helped me through the toughest of times’ Sihel says. ‘I think many out there can relate.’ He adds.
He is a sucker for soulful vibes both from the old school and the new school. Some of his favourite genres are soul, funk, RnB, hip hop, g-funk, soulful house, acid jazz, and future beats. “If it’s soulful I will dig it out, my music collection has some of the rarest hidden gems you will ever find, not bragging but I promise you it is the truth.’ He counts James Brown as the ‘best to ever do it’ and the incredibly underrated Jamiroquai as a ‘legend.’ He also adds D’Angelo to his list of influences. ‘I have probably spent over a million hours searching for rarities, it was something I did on a daily basis for years and I developed a special talent for it. I think that talent has now been transferred to scoping out some of the best hidden vintage garments from around the globe. Timeless style and timeless music.’
Somehow being in the company of Sihel makes you feel younger, more energetic, and more optimistic. Hearing somebody talk so passionately about the things they have such a love for, makes you forget all of life’s worries. ‘I feel blessed to have worked with many of my idols during the years and I love the fact that music carries me on this journey I’m on.’ It is a journey, that for The Humble Dapper is just beginning.
With thanks to the gentleman that is Sihel Sinahs, The Humble Dapper.