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Rivay NYC x The American Swede.

Tommy Engstrom

From traveling, to riding his vintage motorcycle to surf trips with good friends,
he does a lot of interesting things during his time away from career.

Social media is a funny thing. I am lucky enough to have known life before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps that makes me old, but I feel so grateful to be not as swayed or pressured to feel a sense of acceptance or approval based on the number of 'likes' I got on my last post. On the other hand, it is phenomenal to witness the incredible reach that you can have through social media - putting you in contact with people you most likely would never have any communication with. I say this all as a precursor to the real reason for this article - RIVAY NYC. 

At the beginning of the year I began noticing an Instagram feed on my 'EXPLORE POSTS' page. Pictures of an English bulldog named Bruce. A Defender90 set to incredible backdrops like the beaches of Montauk or the streets of DUMBO, Brooklyn. Tom Cruise in aviators flashing the middle finger. Steve McQueen riding a cafe racer. Call me intrigued. After exchanging a few friendly 'likes,' Erik and I knew that we had to learn more about this menswear company and the man behind the brand. Being a Midwest style website is great, but the desire to meet other style influencers outside of our bubble (i.e. New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco) is insane. Having lived in Manhattan, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like the drive, passion and motivation within the Big Apple. It has been something that I want to surround myself with once again.

Let's just start off by saying this about Jon Ruti: he started his career as a prosecutor handling everything from DWIs to homicides in South Bronx. He then moved downtown and began working large scale narcotics cases across the five boroughs. I'm just imagining Law & Order or CSI. Crazy shit like that. After wearing a suit to work everyday for seven years, Ruti began realizing that there was a lack of outerwear that could allow him to seamlessly transition from work to weekend activities. Where most people would shop around for that next brand to try, Jon stood at the helm and decided it was time for him to start chasing a dream: create something. It just so happens (lucky for us) that this 'something' would be a menswear brand that would far surpass our expectations. 

As you browse their website, there is no question in what this brand is. Smart. Driven. Successful. Yet allows himself to get away from the stress of the city and enjoy his weekend hobbies. The initial collection (which just went live online last week) consists of 10 pieces, each with its own purpose. The high quality fabrics and cohesive colors and lines make the pieces stand out. The clothing holds true to classic silhouettes, but Ruti and his team apply their own modern twist - perfect for an adventure away from the concrete confines of the city. 

Ruti has attempted to take on a large venture with Rivay NYC - with hundreds of menswear brands in the market, it would be easy to get lost in the noise. But with this collection, it is clear that he isn't messing around. Rivay NYC is a brand to keep an eye on.  Be sure to check out all of the Jon Ruti x The American Swede interview below. Excuse me now as I go do some online shopping....

An Interview with JON RUTI.

TAS: Who is Jon Ruti?  What’s your story?

JR: He’s alright, good guy to grab a beer with or have on a road trip.  I grew up in New York.  Spent time in Colorado for undergrad and law school.  I came back to New York and started a career as a prosecutor in the South Bronx.  I handled everything from DWIs to homicides.  I moved to the Office of Special Narcotics in downtown Manhattan where I spent the last couple of years investigating and prosecuting large scale narcotics operations across the five boroughs of NYC.

TAS: What inspires you?

JR: Travel, good design, good writing and New York, of course. 

TAS: What spurred the idea to start RIVAY?

JR: I wore a suit everyday to work for seven years.  I noticed how hard it was to find an outerwear piece that could transition from work to weekend hobbies.  I recall a good friend of mine picking me up from the office for a weekend of ice climbing in the Adirondacks.  The only piece of outerwear I could wear after I got out of my suit was a technical piece from Patagonia.  It just looked “off” leaving the office like that.  That’s when I started really thinking about the gap between fashion and technical outerwear.

TAS: Explain the name.

JR: I was fascinated with rivets as a kid.  The way they look on airplanes, helicopters, bridges, cars – the simplicity, look and functionality always stuck with me.  A good French buddy and I were talking over drinks and he pronounced the word rivet as a Frenchman would (Ri-vé).  It stuck from there.   I reworked the spelling and Rivay was born.  

TAS: Has it always been a dream of yours to start a men’s line?

JR: It was always a dream of mine to create something but it wasn’t until I started paying more attention to what I wore that the dream became more focused.  The seed was planted around high school, but it really grew when I began my professional life as a prosecutor.  Hard working urban professionals spend a great deal of time and money finding and purchasing the clothes they wear to work.  And there are plenty of excellent brands to fill this demand.  But when that guy wants to leave the city to pursue his weekend hobbies, there simply wasn’t a brand that catered to that lifestyle.  That’s when the dream materialized into Rivay.  

TAS: Who is the RIVAY “guy”  What is your target?

JR: He is career driven and places a lot of thought into how he fills his down-time.  He takes care of himself, dresses well Monday through Friday, but is missing a brand that can stylishly transition to the weekend passions.  From traveling, to riding his vintage motorcycle to surf trips with good friends, he does a lot of interesting things during his time away from career. The only thing missing is a brand that shares and understands those same passions.

TAS: Where do you look for inspiration?

JR: Anywhere from movies, books, music, places I visit, people I meet, etc.  It’s all about taking in your surroundings and translating it into something that makes sense for the brand.

TAS: What makes this brand stand apart?

JR: The ability to look natural in any environment.  Whether you’re road tripping through the desert or arriving  to dinner with a date, our styles look good anywhere.  We keep our designs understated for that sense of timeless cool.

TAS: Tell us about your creative process.  Do you have a team that you work with or is it a one man venture?

JR: I work with one very talented and seasoned designer to bring our styles to life.  I also rely on a network of very talented friends for graphics, photography, and other creative aspects of the business.   But the day to day operations - legal, PR, accounting, production, sourcing, and marketing – that’s a one man venture for now.  

TAS: What aspect of the clothing brings the individual pieces together into one cohesive brand or look?

JR: Their ability to complement one another but to also stand on their own.  The fine fabrics and meticulous construction.   But most importantly, the collection looks as natural on the weekend adventure as the Monday morning commute.

TAS: Are there any items that you think are really key to the collection?

JR: The Delaney waxed cotton jacket was the first piece we designed.  I always had trouble finding a jacket that worked both at the office during the week and at my hobbies during the weekend.  The Delaney was the solution to that problem and the rest of the line grew around it.

TAS: What’s exciting about men’s clothing to you?

JR: The growth in menswear is exciting.  Men are more educated and informed about their wardrobe.  This presents Rivay with an opportunity to give this well informed man a brand that understands his lifestyle and that is very exciting to me.

TAS: What are five essential pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe?

JR: Lived in Denim.  A slim Chino.  A versatile piece of outerwear.   A simple tshirt.  A well-fitted button down shirt.  Done correctly, these five will take a man anywhere and everywhere.

TAS: Favorite brands that emulate your personal style?

JR: I’ve bounced between the usual suspects over the years, but always felt that certain brands only worked for certain environments.  The lack of versatility is frustrating.  I’m hoping to solve that with Rivay. 

TAS: You recently went to Iceland, tell us about it!  Business or pleasure?

JR: Pleasure.  Iceland is a dramatic place, from the black beaches, waterfalls, glaciers and lagoons to volcanoes and lava fields it’s a land where mother nature is really alive on a large scale.  Combine that with the friendly and hospitable Icelandic people and it makes for an incredible life experience.  

TAS: Have you always been one to see the world or are you one to dwell and grow where you are?

JR: There are so many places on my list to visit, I’m definitely one who aspires to see the world.

TAS: If you were given a plane ticket to fly anywhere in the world, where would you go?

JR: Africa.  No brainer.