A close friend recently turned me on to Andre Phillipe, a young entrepreneur making his way in the ultra-competitive fashion world. I was told we shared a certain work ethic and aesthetic. That grabbed my attention and I quickly checked out his work online. My friend was right. I liked everything about the guys’ clothing line right away. Each piece is exceptionally well-crafted from the very best fabrics available. I guess you could say the same thing about Brioni, but this isn’t your father’s bespoke line. The Andre Phillipe label has a much younger, much more contemporary vibe and feel to it. It’s got a certain swagger that appeals to me.
Eager to learn more about this Dallas-based menswear line and the man behind it, I invited Mr. Phillipe to join me in a “Man to Man” conversation over Scotch and cigars during his next trip to Miami. In a matter of weeks, we were face to face. I was surprised to learn that Andre had never smoked a cigar before but was eager to learn more about them. We quickly bonded over a Padron “Damaso” and a glass of Chivas Regal. What follows is a slightly edited version of our recent conversation.
What made you go into the fashion business?
Well I actually went through the experience personally of a custom suit. I was obsessed with it immediately. So it was that experience that inspired me to start the company. I wanted to set out to create a brand that was very inspirational and very aspirational. We always say internally that our purpose is to inspire men and God’s just given us men’swear as the vehicle. We launched the brand and I would dare to say that it’s a little bit more approachable. Its probably a little grimier than most custom brands that you are going to see out there. But we are happy with where we are and with what we’ve created.
How would you describe your brand?
We always say that if you can nail down refined rebellion its like the best of all worlds. No body that’s involved in our company came up with money so it would be very forced if we tried to create this brand that was just completely refined to the point where it just seemed unnatural. So yea, we’ve created something that I think is very true to who we are. You can see it in every aspect of our lives. I not only like the Maclarens, I also really dig the ’62 bubble top Impala and on our playlist you’ll find everything from Led Zeppelin to we’re huge Jay Z fans.
We are tatted but we love the timelessness of Sinatra and what he represents in terms of being a gentlemen and being the cool cat from that era. But there is definitely an edge to our pieces. It boils down to our product designs too. If you buy a navy three piece from us it is going to be one of the best navy three pieces you are going to see. But when you open up the coat its when it gets a little wild. We can get very, very funky with the interiors and create that edge that you know a lot of other designers don’t necessarily want to touch. So if we can say we are anybody, we would say that we are like Frank Sinatra with tats.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
You know whenever you purchase from us and you go through our experience you aren’t just purchasing suits from us, you are investing in a wardrobe and a lot of people when we got into the market and we took this position we got a lot of resistance from our mentors and such. Because they said the whole idea is to get them to buy more. If you teach them to get more out of the wear you aren’t going to sell them as much. We just didn’t take that. We are so relationship driven, that what we found is that although we may not get a larger sale on the front end of that, when it comes time for them to order men’s wear they aren’t going to call anybody else. So that’s the position that we have taken and its in that consultation that we go really deep into when we work with our clients its got them coming back thankfully.
There’s been a real resurgence in menswear recently, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. What has surprised you the most about this movement?
If you look at pop culture in the mid to late 90’s, when it was all about gang banging and baggy clothes I think a society as a whole thankfully started making a shift. So I think gone are the days that looking like somebody that will murder somebody else is cool. Thankfully. I feel like its not just a resurgence in menswear itself. I think that we are starting to remember the importance of being a gentleman. I know for my group if we are having lunch with a lady and she stands up at the lunch table, our entire group will stand up with her and that’s the resurgence that makes me most excited. I feel like menswear is just a byproduct of that. I feel like guys are becoming more focused on how to become a better man. Never before has the word menswear been used so much in the world and I think guys just really want to know how to be a better man and menswear just happens to benefit from that.
For more information: http://andrephillipe.com