“One thing is for certain, it’s time to break up with your sweatpants— it’s nearly impossible to imagine a promotion in joggers.” says Fokke de Jong/CEO and Founder at Suitsupply.
Founded in Europe in 2000, Suitsupply has since grown to over 140 international stores in cities such as Milan, London, Zurich, Amsterdam, New York, Toronto, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong and, in addition to their expanding brick-and-mortar locations, maintains a strong online presence, allowing them to bring their style and top-tier service to consumers everywhere.
Dig deep though and there’s more to this brand than meets the eye. Amid widespread speculation on the future of retail, the economy, and more specifically the City of New York, Suit Supply has taken an unconventional path to catering to men with intentions of dressing for success, to enter into a Suit Supply store and become businessman who commands power with style.
Always bold and never boring, there is a something about Suitsupply that resonates with American men. I believe this menswear brand is determined to evolve with the times. If you haven’t already paid a visit to a Suitsupply store, I highly suggest that you give it a try? In short, it is not your typical menswear shopping experience. This is next level.
Upon entering a Suit Supply store, you will notice that the scene is laid back- with chill music vibes and welcoming open-space. More to the point, everything looks feels, and smells fresh. I found it to be an uplifting experience. What I find special is that the store in Soho covers 6 floors + rooftop terrace —which lends a comforting and private experience.
Given that Suitsupply proclaims to be able to fit most sizes, I decided to put the brand to the test in fit and style with famed body-builder Armand Peri.
Perhaps the first thing you need to know about Armand Peri is that he is one seriously motivated man. Essentially, a seventeen year old student found himself being bullied and made a definitive decision to do something about it. This young man did not just start lifting weights one day and hoping for the best, though. Instead, he did his due diligence by researching and studying the techniques employed by some of the most successful bodybuilders of their era, such as Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.
Armand was born the son of Portuguese parents who emigrated to the U.S., settling in New Jersey when he was just 12 years of age. Armand’s first goal was achieved when he was recognized and lauded for his accomplishments in the bodybuilding arena, as evidenced by his impressive wins.
Armand worked his way through college, first as a bouncer and then, as the result of a fortuitous meeting in a cafeteria with a fellow bodybuilder, as a dancer for a male entertainment revue. “Timing is everything” is not just a tired cliché – mastering the timing can certainly make all the difference.
Moving forward, Armand saw an opening in a niche market that felt right and decided to fill it. He soon-thereafter created Hunk-O-Mania. Having been a dancer himself, he was uniquely positioned to run this enterprise, understanding the psychology behind it and making customer service and satisfaction on every level the top priority. This was undoubtedly what ensured his success right from the start. The venture quickly grew and expanded nationwide: Atlantic City, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Savannah, Greensboro, Raleigh, Baltimore, Washington, Austin, Houston, Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Charleston and Nashville. This was no ordinary show and was recognized as something special by the people who mattered most – the customers! Positive reviews poured in – and continue to this day, with a whole new generation of bachelorettes filling the seats. According to Armand, success in business goes hand-in-hand with success in life. One without the other will not bring you happiness, it’s the big picture that needs to be embraced at all times.
In his book “Unparalleled Success”, published in 2019, he shares his recipe for that success. The sense of dedication and purpose that Armand acquired from a young age has guided him throughout his life and career as an entrepreneur, investor, artist, author and motivational speaker. He remains a force to be reckoned with.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with bodybuilder Armand Peri about why he was compelled to develop an interest in fitness, why there is tremendous value in dressing for the job you want and why he believes when you love what you do, and you put a great amount of effort into it, it will inevitably result in an exceptional level of success!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about your background in bodybuilding? What titles have you won? And what was your greatest moment in the sport?
1st place – Junior Bodybuilding New Jersey State Championships
1st place – Mr. New Jersey
1st place – NPC Suburban Overall Winner
3rd place – NPC Jr. Nationals
4th place – NPC Jr. USA National Championships
6th place – NPC USA National Championships
5th place – Mr. IFBB Universe
My greatest moment in the sport of bodybuilding was competing in the Mr. Universe Bodybuilding Competition; the chance to get onstage and do it in front of such a gracious and appreciative crowd of fans was unforgettable. A huge motivator for me was the opportunity for self-expression and communication with an audience that the sport of bodybuilding provided me with. That’s why I put such a huge emphasis on my posing. Neither the judges nor the audience watch you train, diet and prepare for the contest. I was compelled to develop an interest in fitness almost as a matter of self-preservation – I was a scrawny teenager, bullied in high school. At the age of 17, I was just 135 pounds, and at the time when I started weight-training, my immediate goal was to improve my physical appearance so that I could gain weight, just to look “average”. Although I hadn’t planned it, by the ‘90s, I had transformed my body and was able to become a competitive bodybuilder.
Some of my earliest achievements include taking 1 st place in both the Junior Bodybuilding NJ State Championships, and the “Mr. New Jersey” competition. After that, I was an NPC Suburban Overall Winner, with another 1 st place prize. I went on to compete in the NPC National Championships, with excellent results, which leads me to my greatest moment. I made it to the Mr. Universe Bodybuilding Competition – and had the opportunity to get onstage and compete in front of an enormously gracious and appreciative crowd of fans – this was truly unforgettable. A huge motivator for me was the opportunity for self-expression and communication with the audience, something that the sport of bodybuilding provided to me. That’s why I always put such a huge emphasis on my posing. The judges and the audience don’t see all that you do as you train, diet and prepare for the contest, so those moments on stage, interacting with the audience, are the ones I lived for!
JD: Any advice you can give to a young aspiring entrepreneurial bodybuilder?
AP: It may sound simple, but the secret to both success in bodybuilding and success in business is to just be consistent and stay the course, never giving up until you accomplish your goals! When it comes to entrepreneurship and business success, get used to being lonely and making a lot of sacrifices – it can be very lonely at the top! However, that doesn’t mean you should let yourself feel depressed about it. Men who are truly successful, and love what they’re doing, are always naturally high on life.
JD: When it comes Men’s fashion, what is it that makes you marketable?
AP: I believe it’s because I am the “real deal” – I’m not just a hired model. I have an authentic look of success about me, because I truly live it every day. I didn’t choose a job because of the financial compensation or other perks, I chose a career that I am passionate about, that gives me great joy. When you love what you do, and you put a great amount of effort into all that you do, it will inevitably result in an exceptional level of success. Dressing for success comes naturally to me, I know what looks good on me. Being comfortable in your own skin enables you to be just as confident in the choices you make, as to what clothes you put on your body each day.
JD: Talk to Forbes about your experience at Suit Supply?
AP: My experience at Suitsupply was amazing, to say the least. First I’d like to mention that the decor of the showroom and the accommodations set the stage for a great experience. From the extensive product knowledge of the sales staff, to the meticulous fitting, to the quality of the fabrics – and ultimately to the way the suits looked on me – everything was first class!
JD: How important is “Dressing for Success” ?
AP: It’s incredibly important! I truly believe that there is tremendous value in dressing for the job you want, and that wearing quality clothes in the work place can affect the way people perceive you. “Dressing for Success” speaks to how confident you’re feeling, and even how you’re able to think abstractly. On the other hand, if you’re not self-assured in the way that you dress, it can be really detrimental to your overall mood and the responses that you get from others, who may sense your discomfort. How you present yourself to the world speaks volumes. JD: What did you like most about your Suit Supply experience at the showroom in Soho, NYC? AP: Ultimately, what I liked most about my Suit Supply experience was the way the clothes looked on me and the quality of the fabrics, and how they felt to me. And I must mention, of course, how attentive and helpful everyone at the showroom was… JD: Talk to Forbes viewers here about how Suit Supply was able to outfit and update your wardrobe on the path to “Dress for Success”? AP: I was able to update my Fall wardrobe with many superb suits, shirts, and turtleneck sweaters and completed my look with just the right shoes, ties, and other accessories. The knowledgeable showroom staff presented me with plenty of options and then assisted me in making the optimal choices. I feel fantastic about all my new clothes and I’m really pleased with the overall experience.
The modified path of Suitsupply:
In direct opposition to the notion of a future dominated by work from home and online shopping, the brand recently doubled down on experiential retail at its SoHo flagship store. Suit supply also fully renovated the rooftop level to create a terrace complete with a bar and comfortable seating areas where the customers can simply kick back, unwind and enjoy the city views. A successful future in retail, according to the brand , is defined by how personal your relationship is with your customers, understanding their unique preferences, and curating an experience that is enjoyable and memorable.
Moreover, the sales staff are impeccably dressed and defined experts in their field. This makes a huge difference from other retail outlets for men.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Suitsupply CEO & Founder Fokke de Jong about why he believes that dressing for success has everything to do with personalizing your look and standing apart, If you’re in an entry level position and have talked yourself into the idea trying to blend in, it may be worth thinking that notion through a bit further and why you should spend some time exploring your options that sets you apart, embracing your unique qualities. hence the company mantra ‘Don’t just fit in, find your own perfect fit.’ This is the essence of the brand!
Joseph DeAcetis: In your opinion, what is the new dress code when it comes to Dressing for Success?
Fokke de Jong: We like to think of it as a hybrid between elevated casual and relaxed tailoring. Explore ditching the tie and adding a sneaker. Anchor your look with a smart jacket and a sharp dress shoe when paring with jeans.
It is all about fit. You can buy on expensive products, but if they don’t fit well, you haven’t achieved the objective. Proportion is key— sleeve length, jacket length, button stance are all key components. Forget the standard uniform and add some personality to your style. With fine tailoring, comes the flexibility to deviate. Dressing for success has everything to do with personalizing your look and standing apart. Standing apart is different from screaming—be sure to wear something that feels genuine to you, loud patterns are not for everyone, but if you can pull them off…go for it.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how it is possible for Suitsupply to be able to work with all shapes and sizes to reach the best fit for each customer— to fit their respective discipline?
Fokke de Jong: We believe anyone should be able to come into our store and find styles that work for their unique body proportions and individual personality, hence our company mantra ‘Don’t just fit in, find your own perfect fit.’ This is the essence of the brand.
Our experts are vigorously trained to advise customers on what works for them, they leave no detail unvisited, and have the benefit of seasoned tailors on-site to tweak any remaining adjustments to perfection— basic alterations are ready in under 30 minutes.
Recognizing that body type is not the only obstacle one encounters— we accommodate different heights with fits designed specifically for shorter and taller guys. Beyond selecting from the collection, Suitsupply has a state of the art Custom Made program that offers endless possibilities to create something customers can invest in and stay connected to over time.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to us about how you fit body-builder/ entrepreneur Armand Peri to display the finest fit, balance and proportion with his aim to dress for success?
Fokke de Jong: Accommodating a body-builder fit with nested suits is a real challenge given the typical broadness around the shoulders, chest, and back in contrast to a narrow waist and hips. For these instances, Suitsupply offers a great selection of suit separates in the ready-to-wear offering, so we were able to mix and match fits and sizes to build a well-balanced tailored look for Armand in-store, with minimal alterations. He can easily expand his choices with a wide variety of fabrics in the Custom Made program, with a 2-3 week turn around. Customers are always encouraged to come to the store, but having his measurements and sizing information in hand makes placing an order online as easy as a few clicks. This month, Suitsupply launched the Custom Made Coats program, now available online and instore.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, why is dressing well vital in climbing the ladder to reach corporate ascension?
Fokke de Jong: Chances are the people around you are noticing what you’re wearing. Your outfit demonstrates your level of attention to details. If you’re in an entry level position and have talked yourself into the idea trying to blend in, it may be worth thinking that notion through a bit further. While we aren’t recommending you show up in a style fit for a music concert, you should spend some time exploring your options with good advice on creating a style that sets you apart, embracing your unique qualities. The essence of a good look is that it is balanced and incidentally speaks to your character. Wherever that journey takes you there is one thing that remains a constant, your clothing should truly fit your body and be freshly pressed.
Invest in high-quality natural materials, the clothes will immediately look sharper and more polished. Suitsupply is committed to offering the best materials in the world at an attainable price point. If you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder and are in it for the long term, spend a couple of extra bucks on something that is not only going to look much better, but it will also last in your wardrobe longer.
Joseph DeAcetis: Many men are shy to come into a store and do not know what to ask for. At Suitsupply, how do you help men overcome this uncomfortable feeling and provide them with second to none expertise in fit and style to look their best at the workplace?
Fokke de Jong: Finding a signature style is key. Suitsupply experts are keen on listening and learning about customers, without assumption at the outset that every man has fully developed their personal taste. In other words, it’s a conversation, an exploration, a relationship building experience. You’d be surprised by, given the right guidance, who can turn into the best dressed guy at the office. What facilitates that kind of success story, is pairing the right expert with a customer, where they can build trust over time, and develop an understanding of personal do’s and don’ts. Building a wardrobe is a long game, particularly when you are curating a collection underscored by its longevity.
Joseph DeAcetis: Give Forbes an example of a perfectly dressed man for working in the finance industry?
Fokke de Jong: It’s worth noting that this is a time, unlike any other, to create a signature style of your own and set new standards. Your style should be versatile:
· Have elevated casual looks on-hand— you want to look sharp, but over-dressing for crunch time during late office hours, or at-home zoom calls isn’t going to impress.
· Relaxed tailoring is a solid choice for workday and out-and-about weekends.
· Be prepared for game-day, a perfectly tailored luxe suit will let your co-workers and managers know you’re in the game.