Most of us take a while to find our personal style. Generally, a man’s look will evolve from his adolescence into his twenties — with countless heinous mistakes along the way — and then refine through his thirties, until sometime around 40, he nestles into a comfortable sartorial niche.
Raymond Chu is that rare exception. This guy’s had his look on lock forever. At a glance, his handle’s a throwback to a century or so ago, but without ever appearing anachronistic or costumey… Indiana Jones-era, tweaked for the 21st century. Ray developed his signature aesthetic while still in his teens, lending the classicism a youthful irreverence. “When we first spoke, I was just a kid,” Ray says down the line from New York — the city that doesn’t sleep (and seemingly neither does Ray, as we’re chatting at 3.30am Eastern time). “Now I’m a grown-ass man.”
Sure enough, our initial conversations took place in 2008, when Ray was a youngster and The Rake was in its infancy. At the time, Ray was still a film student at NYU with a part-time gig as a sales assistant at Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander Mansion flagship, but he had begun achieving broader renown via the nascent artform of street style photography. (In fact, that’s how he crossed our radar, and was invited to write for several early editions of this magazine.)
In the mid-aughts, an upstart snapper named Scott Schuman had established a blog he dubbed The Sartorialist, dedicated to documenting the tailored attire of elegant gentlemen in Italy, the US, Britain and beyond. Ray soon caught Schuman’s eye and became a frequent Sart subject, along with Lino, Gianpaolo, Wooster, Luca, Yukio, Simone, as well as various people smoking and bicycling (though not necessarily at the same time).