We recently featured my conversation with Andre Phillipe, the young entrepreneur behind the Dallas-based menswear line by the same name. I enjoyed not only his take on menswear and where it’s heading, but I also dug their approach to men’s fashion. Wanting to learn more about the inspiration behind this “badass-dandy” look, I reached out to Jason Smith, the creative force behind it all. As it turned out, we had more in common than I imagined. Jason and I grew up just miles away from one another in Northern New Jersey. As you can imagine, the conversation flowed smoothly, aided in part by our love of fine menswear, cigars and good Whiskey. What follows is a slightly edited version of our “Man to Man”.
Do you find people take your clients more seriously when they’re wearing a custom suit?
When I’m out and about with clients, maybe that have gotten garments and I take them to lunch or we grab dinner or I’m out with my CEO Andre or any of the guys on the team, whether we are in joggers and a blazer or we are three pieced out, heads consistently turn. Guys and girls consistently their heads turn. It’s not because we’re loudly walking around trying to get attention but people notice when you dress well. You do walk with a sense of confidence because it’s you and it’s authentic. People notice that.
You’ve lived in the inner city in Northern New Jersey and Texas as well. Tell me how that experience is reflected in your work.
You got to think that we deal with guys in the board room that are very executive. They want to be buttoned up and tightened and that’s fantastic but we want to show clients how menswear can transform into many many facets. Like I can wear a sports coat with joggers and chucks but I can also wear it with some oxfords and a nice button down and a tie. So we want to show clients how it can be very versatile. I think I bring that to the table coming from a very urban environment but also high end board rooms as well. I’ve done the whole gamut and I’ve traveled many places and seen the highest of the high and the lowest of the low. You want to fit in everywhere and just be authentic and be yourself. So whatever that reflects. For me it’s very diverse. I think I bring that to the table and show our clients that I can do the same for them and their wardrobe.
What are some of the trends in menswear that you’re excited about?
I’m just excited that menswear is getting hot again. That the guys are excited about being gentlemen; excited about dressing well. I have a client that goes to the office two days a week and everyone in there is in shorts. He is in a suit. He just wants to do that. No one seems to notice but they all notice. Especially the CEO, who doesn’t wear a suit all the time. But when he needs to go somewhere who is the first person he calls? If he needs a business guy to go with him he asks my client to go. It’s little things like that. I’m more excited that guys care about looking good. The thing I hate the most is when I see a couple out. Beautiful couple the wife/girlfriend is looking phenomenal and the dude is in shorts and a t-shirt. It’s like what are you doing? So I think ladies appreciate that and guys appreciate when they put it on even if they say they don’t. A well tailored suit to a woman is like lingerie to a man. You know it makes a difference. It makes a difference. It absolutely does. So I’m excited that guys are starting to care.
Do you find guys’ attitudes change once they put on a custom suit?
It’s not just putting on a suit. It’s putting on the right suit. It’s not just putting on a shirt. It’s putting on the right shirt. Those types of things. Their shoulders go back; their head goes up. It is kind of an attitude. It’s an I’m here, I feel good and I’m confident in my skin. But it’s an investment, you have to invest in yourself, like how you invest in yourself in the way you eat and in a fitness membership and all that. You invest in your wardrobe. These are pieces that will last a lifetime. They are not fly by the seat trendy pieces that are hot now and then next year you won’t wear them. These are stable pieces that you’ll be able to do a number of things with and we’ll show you how to do that. The average guy can do that and needs to do that. Right? You want to dress for the man that you want to be and the man you are becoming and the job you want. Whether you have it or are aspiring to be there. We think that we provide a garment that definitely helps them get there.