Face Time: Fokke de Jong

Suitsupply founder, tailoring fan

September 14, 2012

Two weeks ago, a corner of Georgetown looked like a convention of sleek, European dandies as Dutch-based men’s tailoring company Suitsupply (2828 M St. NW; 202-800-7800) held a party to inaugurate its first D.C. store. The brand fuses high-end details (Italian fabrics, in-a-flash alterations on site) and hipster cred (cargo pants shown with sports coats, slim tuxedos) in its well-priced clothing. We caught up with founder/CEO Fokke de Jong about how buttoned-up doesn’t have to equal boring.

This is only your third U.S. store after New York City and Chicago. Why was D.C. next?
D.C. was on the radar from the beginning. We were getting a lot of customers in the New York store from D.C. People who live here seem like a very fashion-informed kind of customer.

How is Suitsupply different from other, more old-school men’s retailers?
We’re about the tailoring, about giving customers a product that really fits. Plus, we have lots of well-informed staffers, so we’re also educating customers.

How can you make a suit hip?
It’s both tailoring and how you combine things. You could put a very formal jacket with rolled-up cargo pants and monk-strap shoes, or wear one of our slimmer double-breasted suits. They’re like the epitaph of the old-fashioned kind of double-breasted suit, with a trimmer cut with a nice, sloped shoulder. Fashion is about reinventing stuff. If you do it well, you still have something elegant to wear.

What colors and fabrics should men be wearing this fall?
We like to use lots of blended fabrics — wool with silk, wool with cashmere. This makes garments drape well and it allows for really rich colors. Burnt orange is important this year, and so is green. Combined with grays, they’re very nice.

Your stores all have an on-site tailor sitting in prominent spots. Why?
Tailoring is at the center of our business. Clothes need to fit very well, and having someone in the stores to do the adjustments in 30 to 45 minutes makes it so much better.

Is there any fashion faux pas you see men committing?
If you’re going to wear a pocket square, use it to break up a look. Don’t wear a white shirt and a white pocket square. With ties, use a different pattern than your jacket — that’s how you make a look lively and rich.

Men seem to be embracing fashion a bit more lately. Why do you think that is?
Maybe it’s blogs and magazines, maybe it’s a young, going-out thing. Or maybe it’s because people are traveling more. The more you’re around stylish people, the more you want to be one, too.

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Kristen Page-Kirby | September 14, 2012