And Owns His Look
Today we’re extremely pleased to spotlight Vimal Panalickal, a man whose style and approach to life shine through vividly. Currently the Head of Product Development for German tailoring brand Maximilian Mogg, his story is not just about style, but also about self-discovery and personal growth.
We caught up with him recently to discuss how he navigates the world of menswear with his own distinct flair and how his journey with vitiligo has shaped his perspective on style and appearance. Read on to learn more about Vimal’s approach to style, his favorite brands, and how he’s made the most of his unique look.
Tell us a little about your background and where you’re from.
My parents are from Kerala in India. My mum migrated to Germany in the 1970s. I have two siblings, we all grew up in the city of Cologne, Germany. My whole intimate family is in Cologne. But I have a lot of family all over the world. Many in Chicago actually and some in Florida and Texas.
What’s your earliest memory of being into menswear?
It was my cousin’s first holy communion. We were nine years young and all in suits. I wore my first pair of brogues and remember very well that an older teenager was commenting to his friend about my style.
How would you describe your style?
Feel over looks and fit over everything. The hierarchy is fit first, materials second, only then comes color and style. My formal style is rather British, my casual style more Ivy League inspired, my sportswear style is mostly black merino wool.
Tell us about what you’re wearing here.
Probably no surprise but, in fact, everything I wear is Maximilian Mogg cut by me and for me. The denim is made from a Japanese selvedge denim by Kuroki. The shirt is made from a ice blue pinpoint cloth by Thomas Mason. The sport coat is made from a heavy coat cloth by Loro Piana. The tie is vintage by — believe it or not — Abercrombie & Fitch. And the shoes are from the Artista line by TLB Mallorca.
You have vitiligo, correct? That certainly makes you stand out with a very unique look. I’ve heard you speak about this once or twice but could you talk about your journey with this condition and how — if at all — it has affected your confidence or how you have come to “own” your look?
That’s right. It started in my early 20s. I wasn’t born with this condition. Until my early 20s I looked a certain way and then my vitiligo “broke out” and slowly changed my appearance. It was during a very stressful period of my life. I was enrolled in a mechanical engineering program but wanted to go into tailoring with all my heart. I come from a very traditional Indian household and this situation caused a lot of inner turmoil for me.
As my vitiligo developed my confidence went downhill. Back then I believed appearance is everything. Since no traditional doctor could help me in any way it led me down a rabbit hole into personal development and health consciousness. In hindsight maybe the greatest gift of it all. Eventually, I dropped the mechanical engineering program and followed my passion into tailoring.
My confidence and inner strength came back after realizing that a man is respected for his achievements, not so much for his looks. It took me a long time to understand this. And yet, a solid appearance for a men is actually pretty simple: a healthy physique, well-fitting garments and some grooming skills. That’s how I came to own my look. But the more important part is character and integrity.
You’re often seen cutting an apple on Instagram. What’s that about?
Until 2022 I kept telling myself that I’m not good with social media and personal branding. In 2023 I decided to invest 100 days of targeted effort into social media only with the means available today. The apple cutting video was one of two formats I posted every day for over 100 days. It started as my own OOTD version with a little bit of ASMR but it meant so much more to various people.
Some have seen it as style inspiration, others as a daily meditation. People who weren’t interested in style came for the apple, others commented on my bad knife and worst cutting skills. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, people commented.
In “House Of Cards” there is a scene where Frank Underwood chops up an apple fully dressed at the breakfast table. This was the initial inspiration, hence the background music. I wanted to find something, somewhat inspirational from my life that I could share everyday with as little effort as possible. It is now my signature format that people recognize me for.
What are some of your favorite brands?
Honestly, I am not much of a clothing brand guy. I cut most of my garments myself because fit is so important to me. But I love brands that do merino base layers like Icebreaker from New Zealand. Merino base layers are a game changer for all kinds of physical activities. Those are among the few things that I cannot make and therefore buy.
When it comes to shoes, I love the aesthetics of Japanese bespoke shoemaking such as Yohei Fukuda. My only sneaker is from Brütting Diamond brand. Currently, my favorite eyewear brand is Jacques Marie Mage. When it comes to outerwear I really like the USAAF-inspired shearling leather jackets by Aero Leathers.
Most recent menswear (or accessory) purchase?
Favorite piece in your closet?
My navy double breasted club blazer made from a 500g Loro Piana coating cloth.
Most-worn item in your closet?
A high waist selvedge denim I developed with Maximilian Mogg and an old pair of Alden tassel loafers.
How has your style changed over time?
Less color over time and fewer pieces, in general. Fewer, but better classic and versatile pieces with the focus on impeccable fit and natural materials.
Do you have a “style icon”?
Not any person in particular, but I get inspired by movies more than by real life people.
Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse.
After a long day, how do you unwind?
I don’t really. I set an alarm for bed time at 9 p.m. and make sure to switch off all screens by that time. I pack my gym bag for the next day, clean the kitchen sink, and find my way to bed. I have found myself to be most productive in the early morning so my work day starts very early. If I am not too tired I read or write in bed before I pass out.