When we decided to take a leap of faith and contact Jared Acquaro of Oscar Hunt Tailors in Melbourne, I had no idea what to expect. Better known as the dashingly stylish bloke behind one of Australia’s most popular menswear blogs, we speculated he wouldn’t be able to find enough time for us with his hectic schedule. But when I received an email back from him for a Sunday morning coffee date, he had me crying almost as hard as when I missed out on a pair of Yeezy Boost 350s.
A blogger whose style has had a profound effect on me, the reason for A Poor Man’s Millions eminence became very apparent when we eventually met him. But glancing at style shots plastered across the Internet and Instagram, his granite expression fronted by a pair of dark sunglasses and his skin a swirling canvas of tattoos seemed to confirm initial impressions of Jared as a roguish member of the Mafia.
It couldn’t be further from the truth (though he is Italian so watch yourself).
Though known today for his rakish online presence as one of Australia’s best dressed men, Jared had beginnings in an industry completely unrelated to fashion or the tailoring industry. At the age of fifteen Jared worked as a qualified mechanic, before plying his trade as a roof tiler. However when a car accident broke his back and left him unable to work properly, his brother got him a job in tin smithing until a couple of years later, he found himself working with ARB, Australia’s largest distributor and manufacturer of 4WD accessories, revising a process to create bull bars. Despite being unrelated to his current activities Jared never considered his early endeavours to be a waste of time:
“You think it’s just a piece of metal that people throw a cake in but everything has to be a certain type of stainless steel and it has to be perfect even if it’s just a cake tin. In roof tiling you’ve got to learn perfection — if you make one little mistake the roof is going to leak, and if somebody’s paid over a million for it and you ruin their house, that’s a million dollars up your arse… The reason I’m saying this is that everything that I’ve learnt in one job, I bring to the next job and the next job… I don’t know if I would think the same if I hadn’t done those jobs.”
I couldn’t help but relate to Jared. I too started off with my dad in similar trades fixing cars and labouring during the summer holidays. It made me feel like he wasn’t as distant as I had once imagined seeing him behind the computer screen.
From working on bull bars, he eventually took his first steps towards the fashion industry after living with his girlfriend in Germany. “I went from H&M in Germany, to Converse back here, then off to Fred Perry, Beggar Man Thief, and then to Henry Bucks.” I found myself immersed in his recollections of standing behind the counter to hide his bruised shins from customers (caused by early morning Muay Thai Training) and of developing an adrenal fatigue condition from drinking too much coffee – no thanks to the espresso machine at Henry Bucks. He even divulged that when he was younger he was rejected for a job at Nudie Jeans because he didn’t know enough about denim.
Most notably, he found himself becoming a part of the prolific Oscar Hunt Tailors team as a fitter before assuming the position of their product innovation manager. “Now I sort of do my own stuff and help out Hugo Boss and other companies.”
It was surprising to learn however that his experience and knowledge wasn’t acquired through formal training in tailoring. Apart from sewing courses and his textiles class at school he started from the bottom picking up everything along the way (and now he’s here). Discussing the art of tailoring and its future however, Jared laments the myopia of many conservative tailors. “Usually, you go to a tailor and it’s some old Italian guy who goes, “I don’t have time to teach you. Why do you want to do this? This is too hard”, so they don’t bother teaching. And people are surprised that tailoring is dying.”
Eventually, I mustered the courage to ask Jared if he had any style icons himself. “I’ve kind of gone from having style icons, where I look at them and what they do, [where] as now, I don’t look at them for what they do, but just for colour inspiration and pattern inspiration. So when people ask me ‘Who’s your style icon?’, I say, ‘I don’t really have one’.”
Hearing this coming from Jared, made me feel like I was in a dream. Not that I get dreamy about menswear bloggers but Jared is someone I’d been following from day one. Meeting him in the flesh, I had butterflies in my stomach; my pupils were dilating; my head felt like it was about to explode.
But at some point I sort of phased out of the conversation and thought to myself: “I’ve actually just met one of my style icons”. And that was when the shock went away; when I realised that we were just talking. We didn’t have an agenda, we didn’t have an endpoint to the conversation, hell we didn’t even have breakfast (though I sure as hell did try to order a meat lovers omelette). He told us the story of how Giorgio Armani got its eagle logo, how he toured around Australia with party metal band Electrik Dynamite, how Massimiliano of Otto Marchessi gave him the ultimate tour of Florence — he even recounted a few of his miracle-find thrifting adventures.
But the most profound thing I discovered in meeting the man behind A Poor Man’s Millions, was that Jared was just like the large bulk of us, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. He was soul searching, taking life day by day. He mentioned that for a large portion of his time in Germany, he felt like he was “going nowhere” but diligence and commitment got him through.
And that’s probably the real reason why I follow Jared’s blog so much. He is hope that we can not only make something worthwhile out of ourselves but, more importantly, depend on hard work to bring home the bread. From selling shoes to innovating new methods for creating steel bull bars, there is hard yakka and passion behind everything he does. “I don’t want to half-arse anything that I’m doing. I throw myself out there and don’t worry about what people think. Don’t follow anyone, keep to yourself, be passionate, and keep doing what you’re doing.”
And that kinda stuck with me.
(Photos by: Tanjim Islam)