I ran into David Coggins profile at Derrick Miller´s concept store Maker and Company website where, by the way, we are proud to say our Lavale Boots are featured ;)
About: David Coggins has written about tailoring, travel, fly fishing, design and drinking for numerous publications, including Esquire, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Pursuits and the Wall Street Journal. He’s a contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, a regular contributor at A Continuous Lean and a columnist at the Japanese magazine, Hail Mary. He’s the editor of the new Drake’s magazine, Common Thread. He lives in New York.
I was immediately drawn by his ideas and, in a way, his role on men's education today.
I wanted to learn more and, after going through articles and listening to a few podcasts, I decided to reach out to David and ask to interview him for CAPITA´s Journal during my visit to New York for Men’s Market. To my surprise, he replied to my email very nicely right away and agreed to meet.
I must confess that reaching out to someone from Uruguay, explaining we are an independent men’s shoe brand that tell stories and find his work aligned with our purpose - and that we think he might be one of what we call CAPITA knights - is always something that makes me nervous and I close my eyes to take courage when I click the “Send” icon on the screen.
I found his latest book “Men and Manners” fantastic. A guide for our generation and the ones to come, expanding the concept of manners to how we can make people's life more significant just by caring. And want to share a recap to hopefully spread the word and motivate people to read it. This not a book exclusively for men – it is certainly interesting for women too – ultimately, it is for all members of society in general.
I am clearly not a Journalist, so this article is a recap of notes and an interview recording. And then I will state fragments of the book that are related to the question.
I am writing in English and Spanish – because it is too hard to expand some concepts in English and although we address men worldwide I would like to specially share with those in Latin America. I apologize in advance for grammar mistakes and sometimes poor vocabulary, please be empathetic and take into consideration I started studying English at a pretty advanced age.
The place was Morandi Café on 7th Ave. and we both had iced coffee.
Hello, Hello, Nice to meet you…and introduction.
ME- Writing is a way of leaving legacy, do think of your writing as a way of transcending through others by having some sort of influence on them. Did this influence your decision to write about manners...or it wasn’t a decision per se, and more of anatural drive?
DC– I was sad about how people were behaving in public and wanted to put all in one place, and make a case for men to behave better…hopefully in a funny way and nobody will be angry about it…I think it’s a time to do a little be more, and that is why I wrote the book.
One thing that is true about manners is that you don´t always have to do things right but want to do the right thing.
As long as you grow older you get closer to know what the right thing would be…as long as your heart is on the right place you are trying to do things better…and that is what the book is about…it is not telling you this is the fork you have to use or that you must wear a bow tie, but try to look nice if you are going to a wedding…
Manners nowadays are about how you treat a taxi driver…it is about trying to make society more smoothly…helping an older woman to cross the street costs nothing.
The best manners serve no practical purpose and are presented with no expectation of reward….no other reason than to prove one another we share access to a higher form of citizenship.
Good manners in general are always in the first relationship you establish with someone. Yes, you can hold the door; yes, you can have the lady come into the room first – these are basics, and these are not necessarily difficult to learn and to practice and to act on. But I think what´s more difficult is on the day basis, to be truly paying attention to others…Really make others feel important.
Greetings are the most simple custom that somehow seems to elude us. It should be simple: eye contact, firm (but not bone-crushing) hand shake, slight smile. David goes deeper on how and why different greeting customs may apply but what we want to emphasize is the fact of connecting. This often involves introductions…Introduce the ones who arrive to a conversation and the one who comes along with you…don’t leave anybody silent and unknown.
Todo el capítulo de Greetings resume básicamente lo importante que es un saludo y cuánto marca el tono que puede o no tener una relación entre dos seres humanos.
Incorporar hábitos, como saludar, en nuestra vida diaria resulta más gratificante para uno mismo, despierta una energía más positiva o algo por el estilo – Interesante probar una semana de saludar conscientemente, mirar a los ojos, decir Buen Día, Gracias, Buen fin de semana – el manners one week challenge.
ME- Being grounded, to keep calm during crisis, this an important quality for a man. At least to be conscious of the concept and work for it...it takes certain maturity to acknowledge your role. Would you say there is a certain age when a man decides how he wants to behave, who he wants to be among others?Kind of like what you say in the book regarding manners in traffic.
DC– That´s a great question, that is something I am very interested in. I think, it’s when you get probably to have children or if you start to get to the age your father was when he had you. You get older and you start to see your father as a man, looking at what he did, how he does things.
Of course, when you are in your thirties you get more serious, probably you get a house, a stable job, you have more serious relationships, you grow up, and by definition you have to be more responsible and start to look at the world in a different way. And maybe you start to ask more of yourself and give more…on a daily basis for example before you went to your parents’ house and now you are the host that make the decisions on what you are going to serve, with what wine, and when this things start happening it all comes together and men are willing to dress better, behave better…every attitude says something about you.
Then, there is how you deal with traffic, travelling, and other kind of situations that put your patience to a test; how you manage to go through that situation and not be ashamed by your behavior, but instead contribute in a positive way.
Traffic – on the road, you are part of society and interacting with people through machines. People become transformed behind the wheel. It is too big a job to communicate every bad driver that they are a menace.
To keep calm when travelling and not trying to step ahead when going through security control, as well as not taking all space in the overhead bins show respect for other people. And respect should be one of the first pillars of our behavior. It takes nothing to be considerate of the people around you and it makes a huge difference.
Regarding manners Mark Rozzo puts it in a very simple way: “what bothers is that smacks of impatience and a lack of generosity or cooperation.”
Miscalculation mistakes – when someone makes a mistake in public it is usually a human moment, and we are sympathetic to them.
Apologies – simple, direct. Overcome stubbornness and do it, no matter if you were technically right. None of this “Sorry if I offended you”, people can always tell if you are sorry isn’t sorry at all. To concede an error shows you are human…it makes you a more evolved person. People make honest mistakes, and there is also an art to accepting an apology. Forgiveness, like apologies, can be short and to the point.
Big men lead by example. Sharing your thoughts and principles is easy nowadays, preaching on twitter is even easier, but what matters is how you act. Remember that.
Arguing – Debate society.
When arguments get out of control, it usually seems to be more of a larger disagreement than the issue at hand. Looking for common ground instead of trying to convince somebody else the error of their ways collaborates to a better and more peaceful society. Ceding a little control can lead to a position of strength
Especialmente en esta época de elecciones se hace difícil atravesar hasta un almuerzo familiar sin discusiones elevadas de tono.
ME- Do you consider new generations are not interestedon how to behave socially as a result of being more individualistic?
DC– Yes, I think that is true when there is so many people and technology makes you feel isolated. We feel we are at the center of our own world…you have headphones on… There are many good things about technology but it puts a certain distance between people, creates barriers and we don´t connect to others – if you make eye contact you just going to have more sensitivity.
For younger people everything moves so quickly: they have video games, etc, incredibly elaborated sensory experiences, that it isn´t like you sit around just to read a book. As a society we need to find a way to balance all the benefits of technology with some of the distractions that come with it.
Manners begin when we figure that we are not alone in this world.
Communication evolves – we are all busy, email and texting – and it is about respecting other people´s time – communication with purpose, directly between people…
There is a grey area these days around smartphones. As soon as someone engages a phone, they are no longer actively present, no longer sincere and engaged with you directly. When it comes to the courtesy of attention, how is the presence of a smartphone politely resolved…Just wait for the other person to stop and they usually do it more quickly if you are making it clear that you are waiting for them.
Hasta que punto no somos conscientes del poco respeto mostramos por conectar en persona – Todos hacemos algún mal uso que hacemos de la tecnología.
ME- How do teenagers and men in their early twenties find out about your work? Do they approach you a lot?
DC - Instagram is a great tool. Most of the people that follow me on Instagram are younger men. Even regarding “Men and Style”, my second book, I receive instagram messages asking for advice. Sometimes is travel advice on where to go in Florence for example; sometimes is clothing advice, and sometimes is just questions of the kind “what do I wear to a wedding?”.
I always write back, it´s nice to have people ask those questions. And I have always tried to make my writing approachable to young people because I don´t think they have to be just like me, dress like me or act like me; they need to feel they are on the right path to a place where they want to be. The important thing is to understand that is not about saying here are the 25 things you need to do in order to do it right…let´s take it step by step, and a friendly welcoming to wanting to do the things right. It is general guidelines and then you will figure the details that work for you.
Like when someone wants to wear a certain pair of boots -your boots- but they need to know a little bit about themselves to make them look really good. Personal style is personal, different men like to do things in different ways. Some just want to dress from head to toe in only one label, but I find it more interesting when you build your style by mixing a little bit, new with old, make it personal, it should be your own trademark.
Style as contrary to fashion - fashion is short term. Its shallow and changes all the time. Style is personal and long lasting. A person´s style should be the reflection of his personality.
Dressing well involves self-knowledge and an understanding on how you fit into the world –Makes you confident, he is ready for the challenge…he is the man of the hour, any hour of the night and day. Invest on the bones, long lasting that build your character.
When you dress well you show respect to society at large. Care in your presentation and messiness mustn’t be confused with authenticity. Bears should not be left to their own devices like swaths of greenery in the tropics. A bear needs to be maintained, man!
You don’t want to look like the world happen to you…you conquer the world.
Todo el capítulo de sloppy dress vale la pena leerlo.
Encontramos muchas recomendaciones acerca del traje, saco sport, etc
La barba se pone de moda, por ejemplo, pero no implica ni justifica la desprolijidad…La formalidad no para todos, se trata de seguir tu camino y tener tu propio uniforme…algo que en última instancia resulta liberador.
“Own them, style them and wear them as you feel most comfortable.”
Cuando alguien se acerca y dice “estas botas no son para mi, son para alguien que se vista más …” y no saben ni cómo describirlo…es algo que no tiene ningún sentido – puede incorporar cualquiera de nuestras botas o zapatos a su propia forma de vestir mientras se sienta bien – son suyos…y si necesita algún consejo siempre lo puede pedir.
ME – Sometimes I think about the loss of manners on how men approach women and as a consequence, on how women treat themselves too...sometimes defensive to make a gender statement. Is radical feminism contributing to discourage men to behave politely with women by offering their seat, or holding the door...because they can face sometimes a violent reaction? Also, women nowadays mistrust men when it comes to relationships and dating for example. There is a lot on this issue in your book. What do you think about it?Should women be addressed on the subject too.
DC– That´s a good question…there are some things that are traditional and some things that are changing. For example, if you are dating someone, a woman that earns more money than you, or knows more about wines than you, she may make the choice, but the waiter still will bring the wine to the man in the table assuming he is the one that will taste it.
It is good to try to make some traditional gestures, some are worth continuing to do, like opening the door for a woman but if she doesn’t like it just laugh about it, don’t get mad, just move on and relax…both sides should be more patient, flexible, not everything is at stake all the time. We can´t argue about men and women if we are talking about who is paying for dinner for example…if a woman says she likes to pay…say ok you can pay, instead of saying no I can´t possibly and turn it into a big drama.
It is a confusing time between men and women in a lot of ways and technology today also contributes, we are texting and DMing and everything has speeded up, so we don’t get to know people face to face and it doesn’t feel personal. Ultimately, what technology can do is help you find someone who is looking for the same things you are looking for. It could be something serious or it could be something casual but in a perfect world you are getting roughly into the same area, the serious person shouldn´t end with the casual person or the other way around. But whatever happens will happen when you meet. All the great things happen in real life, when you let an experience come to you…nothing happens on a screen and our lives are so much better when we are not on the screen. Like for example trying to convert a real experience into an Instagram story…
Personally, I think we don’t allow ourselves the time to get to know someone without being distracted…maybe checking your phone all the time, so it is good to consciously take the time to be in the moment…whether it is with your dog at the beach, whether it is on a date, wherever it is…
I have been bawled a couple of times when I have used the tram and offered my seat to an older person when other seats have been taken. What has always been obvious for me can in some illogical way offend people.
Online dating – the new landscape of dating – The app is a means to an end, and that end is getting face-to-face with someone. In general, it´s better to be direct. If you like somebody, ask them out. Not to vaguely hang out some time, specifically on a date…
Today you can learn a lot of a woman before you meet in person. Google, Instagram, and the rest of it…This is tricky because when you finally meet, you have to decide to divulge just how much research you did ahead of time.
What has happened in the online dating era is that single´s awareness of the available alternative dating options has skyrocketed, which has kind of broken the dating algorithm in people´s mind. The result has been widespread of bad behavior, especially on the part of men who feel free to ghost, breadcrumb or engage in a number of other behaviors that suggest they do not see dates in people of value. It may be true that that the number of dating options has exponentially increased in recent years thanks to online dating…but this convenience does not excuse bad behavior, which inevitably has an impact on a real person with real feelings.
El mal uso de las herramientas que ofrece la tecnología conlleva a comportamintos irrespetuosos considerando el aumento de la oferta y el fácil acceso al mercado Y esto en realidad va tanto para hombres como mujeres.
ME- In South America manners are being left behind...there are few people interested on “passing the torch”. It is not rare that you find a 60 something well educated man at a very formal wedding party wearing black Nike shoes with neon sole together with a blue suit. You can even see them stepping out of a luxurious car...why would you say this is happening?These men are role models to younger men. What can we expect then?
DC - I think sometimes people can express power by acting like then don´t care, and that is not a great thing, I think it´s nicer to do a little bit more than you have to, not less than you have to. I don’t think you need to be pushing buttons all the time. And people are usually more impressed when someone dresses well and look up to them. Your style can still be interesting and still be personal, especially when you are older and you set an example for young people. I totally agree with you.
I am not a sneaker person, young people wear suits with sneakers but if they tried to try something different like slip on shoes they would realize it doesn´t have to be a very formal dress shoe and it can also be very comfortable too.
When someone goes against the rules is like a sugar high and goes away very fast, you might think you are rebelling but the rebellion ends very quickly…that should last for teenage boys.
The way you dress to an event is a matter of interest to your host, your date…dress better than you have to. (Actually, our friend´s from Beecroft and Bull moto is Dress better than you have too! A bespoke store in Virginia Beach and Charlottesville where you can find CAPITA´s boots and shoes.)
Should it indicate that you supposedly care about more important things? Looking slovenly…authentic…
On a basic level, there’s a way to show a sense of occasion and respect for the people who go out with you. A sign of respect for wherever you are going…it is for the person on the other side of the table.
Dressing well involves self-knowledge and an understanding on how you fit into the world.
Invest on the bones, long lasting that build your character.
Makes you confident, he is ready for the challenge…he is the man of the hour, any hour of the night and day.
There´s been a proliferation of the unwelcome view that if you dress in a sloppy way then you are somehow more authentic…Does not bathing makes you more authentic at all? Of course not.
The reason why we have dress codes is that everyone knows what to wear and what’s expected. When that is achieved everything else will be much easier.
Las reglas…no es un tema de reglas, generalmente éstas se confunden y entonces las personas se revelan en un acto de querer mostrar que están por encima de las convenciones. La formalidad no para todos, se trata de seguir tu camino y tener tu uniforme, lo cual puede ser liberado
ME- Are traditions really in jeopardy? Would you say men won’t be wearing suits in 20 years? Hugo Boss strategy is grooming young generations so when they do need a suit for a wedding or their first job, they will choose to invest on a Hugo Boss. What do you think about it?
DC- I hope men will continue to wear suits, and I think they will…sometimes you think the world is going to be a way when you are 16 and it´s different, and when you are 36 and it´s different when you are 56…when you are 16 you think you will be listening to whatever music you are listening at forever and then you grow older and listen to classical music too. I have a driver station wagon now and I never thought I would drive a station wagon, I thought that was for older people, and now maybe I am older too. So, I think suits for men will continue…the suit is flattering, it solves a lot of problems for a man and I think it will always be there in the same way. A man may not have 15 suits they may have 2 but he will still need it and will still wear a suit when he has an important event…if they are going to get married, if they are going to court…at some point people say they don’t care but they are going to need it.
Actually, I receive a lot of questions regarding suits. A young man writes asking me for recommendations on how to choose his first suit because he got into a certain job…
Too many magazines in America are writing about trends, what´s new, what´s changing, what´s happening right now, and I think what a young man needs are more basic help and guidelines with how to buy a suit, how to choose a good one, how to wear it. And why I find so many people writing me, because I don´t think that education is happening. For example, proportions are a big issue, suddenly it is about skinny ties, and skinny lapels, and that will only look good on a certain body type. The important questions are, what do you want them for, what is your job like, what is your personality like. If you wear more like casual wider leg trousers, kakhis, slim jeans, or a slouchy pair of pants. What´s important to feel comfortable is to see how everything looks together.
And I think that is something I want to continue helping people with. Because if a man gets a suit and it is not comfortable, which a lot of suits are, he is not going to like it, but if he finds one that fits him right and feels nice he will love it…same with shoes or a sport coat…and you can both wear with jeans too and it solves a lot. The problem is there is not culture of education and formality that helps to understand how this evolves and men like learning things.
Thank you for your time!
We hope to see David in Uruguay this February after his fly fishing trip to Patagonia ...
Who is up for some face to face advice?
We are here to educate on shoes ;)
When someone arrives to our studio looking for a new pair of boots or shoes and needs some advice, we always start by asking what purpose they need them to serve. What is their personal style, what kind of clothes they usually wear…we want to get a grasp on their personality to be sure we suggest the pair that will suit them best.
Desde CÁPITA intentamos colaborar con los hombres que necesitan zapatos tradicionales pero que a la vez necesitan que sean cómodos. Por eso incluimos plantillas de memory foam en la construcción de todos los productos.
De la misma manera buscamos dar una vuelta de tuerca a los clásicos con diferentes cueros y terminaciones y hacemos modelos más descontracturados para aquellos que no necesitan estar muy formales.
Este es nuestro humilde aporte al buen vestir ;)
Follow David: @davidrcoggings / www.davidrcoggings.com / Robb Repport / The Contender
Podcasts: The Distilled Man / Blamo / Frame and Sequence / Art of Manliness