Quentin Ertel was born and raised in one the nation’s hippest ’hoods: Brooklyn, New York—prehipsterification, that is. He moved to Seattle in 1995 and hadn't planned on staying long, much less open two Capitol Hill businesses, meet his future wife, and start a family. My how that tune has changed: “There really is a warmth to people here.”
Despite our actual lack of warmth or sunny spring weather, Ertel’s right, we can be a warm bunch (Seattle freeze what now?). Yet our collective Seattle style remains, for the most part, in the comfort zone of cool neutrals. Lots of gray and black. Perhaps plaid shirts are a sort of neutral here, too. But if you’ve visited either of Ertel’s spots—his teal-as-all-get-out taqueria and tequila bar, The Saint, and his Caribbeanesque getaway, Havana—then you can guess that his style doesn’t skew subtle.
Indeed, the man pulls style inspiration from Antonioni films, roadside thrift stores in Idaho, and Memphis musicians. He’s even been known to “out peacock” some of Italy’s most stylish peacocks in Rome, which is saying something. Ertel’s style is built upon feeling your look—swagger some may call it. —Rosin Saez
For me, style is really about projecting what you feel. Some days I may feel super casual or other days it may be a hand-sewn Boglioli wool suit or it may be pink pants and a seersucker jacket. And if you're going to run with a look like that, you have to feel it.
It’s less about labels and more about sort of blending you know a high concept and low brow. It’s about using pieces that have meaning and make you happy.
There are beautiful things, but unless you put them together in your own way, it remains fashion, and not style. When you have this conversation with things that you love and the outside world, that’s the intersection where style occurs, to me.
I think style in Seattle is actually changing quite a bit, which is great to see. I love walking down the street and having my eyebrows raised a little bit.
One of my all-time style icons is David Hemmings in Blow-Up, which is the Michelangelo Antonioni about 1960s London fashion. Putting those dark shoes together with white jeans and that shirt and that belt, there’s something about he just feels it the whole time and I love that. I would say that there are days when I wake up and it’s a Blow-Up day.
I really love Stax Records, you know mid-60s Memphis soul, so someone like Booker T. Jones just defines suave. I would say he’s a style icon. Tipping my hat to New York City, I have to throw Gene Hackman and The French Connection in there.
I was on my way back into Seattle from a really long motorcycle trip on an old Honda CB750 and stopped at this thrift store to buy a suit. I was literally driving into town, getting off my motorcycle, putting on that suit, and walking into a friend’s wedding. This ten dollar seersucker jacket that I bought 20 years ago in a thrift store in Boise, Idaho has become this favorite traveling item of mine.
I was walking around one day in Rome and there’s a brass plaque outside this little storefront. I looked in and there’s this old guy at the counter and this woman in the back hand sewing things and all these bolts of fabric. It’s this shop called Mattioli Camiceria, where a 70-year-old woman and her husband make beautiful, beautiful bespoke shirts; they last forever. They’re very adamant: Never dry clean them, only hand wash and hand iron.
John Richards at Jack Straw is a maestro. One of my favorite suits, the wool Boglioli suit that I wear in the winter, I got from him. Butch Blum, I love working with Mihyon. The guys at Mario’s are great. When I got married I forgot to try on my Dolce and Gabbana suit. When it didn’t fit right, they got it hemmed for me in 36 hours; they pretty much saved the wedding. I also love the smaller stuff like Hammer and Awl up in Madrona. I just bought a nice summer shirt there, just waiting for it to warm up.
I was like a footnote to a footnote to a footnote in Seattle music history. I played with a couple of really good bands, one was called Brent Arnold and the Spheres, which was on Up Records, the label that did the first Modest Mouse records. A band that I had with some friends, The Tremens, was a really fun project. But I stopped playing in a band long ago. I still play music for my son but that’s about it.