LuxeSwap is one of Styleforum's oldest affiliate vendors (the thread celebrated its 10th anniversary this year) and is one of the forum's most popular places to shop online.
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Styleforum: How did you hear about Styleforum, and in what capacity did you start here as a member?
Matthew Ruiz: Honestly, I do not remember! It must have been early in my menswear resale days and I had googled something and I think it might have been the thrift thread had come up as a result. The next decade plus of my life has never been the same.
SF: When did you realize that you were interested in fashion?
MR: Easy one, I was in 5th grade and I was wearing a blue buffalo checked flannel button down and a pair of olive green Gap jeans. My biggest crush in the class looked at me and said something to the effect of “ew, you don’t wear blue and green together, ever”. To this day I have a very hard time putting those two colors together.
SF: When and how did you start your career in the clothing industry?
MR: I spent my entire career in high-end luxury retail. I spent a decade working for Gianni Versace. I co-managed the boutique on 5th Avenue, NY, after many other positions with the company. I was a personal shopper for Oscar de la Renta for 9 years. The entire time I was re-selling as a hobby, but StyleForum kicked my menswear sales into overdrive and the rest is history.
SF: What is the best part of the job?
MR: This one? Owning LuxeSwap has been such a tremendous pleasure - the selfish side of me says first dibs on the awesome stuff our clients send, haha. But that really doesn’t happen often as I have way too much already. But taking someone else’s “trash” and making it someone else’s “treasure” is really a great feeling knowing you saved something and put it in the right home.
SF: What is your least favorite part?
MR: When you work for someone else, you can easily defer responsibility and pass the buck. And work 40-hours a week and clock out. I do love every second of it but you can’t kick anything upstairs when you’re on the top floor, and the 90-hour work weeks with no vacations are gruelling at peak seasons.
SF: How do you stay up to date with the clothing industry and current trends?
MR: Read, study, read, study. Everywhere I can - from Derek Guy’s blogs and articles, to the latest news on StyleForum, to the major publications, etc. And my 13 year old daughter and her friends - Just be observant everywhere you go.
SF: What’s the single item you've sold that you are most proud of?
MR: There’s a SF lore story of a Lilly Pulitzer jacket that was thrifted for something like 10 bucks and we sold it for something like 1400 bucks. Same with a pair of alligator Gucci shoes - bought for 20 and sold for 2000 (or similar). The unexpected hits are always the sweetest.
SF: What item did you think would be a hit, but bombed?
MR: Ties were not a fantastic category in 2020-2021.
SF: If movie characters were real, who would shop at your store?
MR: Easy, adult entertainers. Yakuza members, Oligarchs, and prostitutes.
SF: There was a thread on Styleforum about you thrifting your way to a Ferrari. Can you tell us a bit about that?
MR: Yes, I miss her! My 2008 F430 Spyder. I started with a $5 thrift find and sold it for $50. Took the 50 and reinvested it in more thrifts and turned it into 500. Double, repeat, double, repeat - long story short (well, not so short), I had a 6 figure car of my dreams that I otherwise never would have been able to afford. I owe that to the knowledge I learned on SF. Since then, I've sold the car and used the money as part of a down payment on my house, and thrifted my way to a Maserati and a 2020 Corvette C8 since.
SF: I remember when we first met, I think that was 2011 - when the Ace Hotel had just opened along with the Breslin (RIP), and you tried to bring up the forum on your early generation iPhone - with mixed results. Tell me a bit about all the changes and challenges that you’ve faced in the very long decade since that time.
MR: Holy crap good memory! Yeah, early on the mobile site was terrible. I had to get to work, log in on the desktop on a private browser, email myself my fit pics and screenshot them, and upload them to WAYWRN that way every day. But now it's such a difference. Hate to say it like “get off my lawn” but the new generation does not understand the struggles we had to get fit pics off man.
SF: What are three pieces of advice you would give to your younger self?
MR: Oof. That’s tough man. I don’t know if the younger me would have taken advice. But I’d suppose I would say to not be spontaneous and think some things through. And maybe make the moves on the girls you were too shy to have back then. You never know what spaghetti sticks on the wall until you throw it.
SF: What did you wear to your first ever job interview?
MR: I think my first “real” job interview was at Armani Exchange in 1995. I bought a pair of Armani jeans in Sicily the year prior and thought I was hot ****. I wore those and probably a baggy Gap button down. Would be totally relevant today actually.
SF: Describe yourself using only 5 words.
MR: Driven. Indefatigable. Hardheaded. Crafty. Cheap, but expensive.
SF: Tell us about your hobbies outside of fashion.
MR: Watches, cars, and good food.
SF: What is making you happy today?
MR: Old man answer - getting a great nights sleep on a Friday night. But seriously, when I see boxes from our clients - mostly SF members - show up, and clients walking through the door - and conversely happy end clients who are buying the things we are selling, that is such great feeling knowing we have taken something from say, Moscow, ID and put it in the right home in Hoboken, NJ. Without us that would never have been a connection and to facilitate such things is a really fulfilling feeling.
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