10 Questions: Alfonso Felipe
Meet native New Yorker and Carson Street’s Made-to-Measure Specialist, Alfonso Felipe. Felipe fits the Carson Street Team perfectly (pun entirely intended), seeing that he too chose his profession whilst unhappily trudging away in a career that did not accurately reflect his own skills and lifestyle. We sat down with Felipe and asked him a few questions about his personal style, how he found himself in the world of custom suiting and where he goes to find inspiration.
Carson Street Clothiers: So, what brought you into the world of made-to-measure tailoring?
Alfonso Felipe: I wanted to create my own culture, be my own boss, travel, and dress interesting people. While working on Wall Street I did some personal shopping for a few of my bosses. At the time, I wasn’t yet making my own suits, but I was assisting them in their suiting. I was introduced to textiles and tailoring as a result. I had a relationship with a tailor, I had some samples made to fit me that featured a more European look, slimmer legs, higher arm holes, different linings. I wanted to be my own boss, and work with clients on their image, creating a wardrobe for a person that reflected not only who he was, but where he spends his weekends.I knew that I could provide a better service if I focused on building relationships.
CSC: Before you joined Carson Street, how did you operate your business?
AF: I operated my business purely by referral. People would reach out whether in London, LA, Chicago, Florida, Paris I’d book a trip to see them, fly out with my fabrics, and return in 6 weeks to deliver. Relationships are everything, and you are as good as your introduction. I was fortunate to have some great contacts who believed in me and my product.
CSC: What’s your favorite piece of tailored clothing you ever made for one of your clients or maybe even yourself?
AF: These days I don’t really feel dressed up unless I’m wearing a tuxedo. I like dressing weddings the most, everyone is excited, there’s a ton of pressure to make everyone look perfect and make the groom standout subtly. I dressed a wedding at the Trump in Chicago a few years ago and it was perfect. Four groomsmen in notched lapel tuxedos, for the groom we made a one-button shawl collar tuxedo. Part of the wedding party was in Vietnam so I wasn’t able to fit them myself, I had to work off of a local tailors measurements. Extremely hectic, but we made it happen.
CSC: Spring has sprung—any recommendations, color- or fabric-wise, for the perfect addition to a man’s spring tailored wardrobe?
AF: I think the first step is to be comfortable with yourself and your attire. Dress your mood, if its raining and you’d like to wear sweats with your wool/linen blend blazer do it, but you have to own it when you wear it. I’m loving pastels at the moment.I really do believe there should be a timelessness to a wardrobe, a man needs to have an outfit for every occasion.
CSC: Any subtle pointers for how a man can stand out this spring without crossing over into the absurd?
AF: Socks to match trousers is always fun. Suspenders instead of belts for a change.I really like the idea of wearing a double breasted vest with a single breasted jacket. Buttoned up shirts without ties. Cuff links are very much a conversation starter. Harem pants.
CSC: When you’re not suited up, how would you define your personal style?
AF: Dressed for the occasion.
CSC: How do you find inspiration in both your professional and personal life?
AF: I love to travel. I think being a creative will force you to listen to not only your voice, but your surroundings, I try to put myself outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. I want to be someone who is ready to handle whatever life throws at me. Traveling is a big thing for me, to be 2500 miles away from home and find commonalities with strangers, those kinds of things make me feel good.
CSC: What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
AF: 100 pushups—got to start the day right!
CSC: Where is your favorite brunch spot in Manhattan?
AF: Too many to name. Restaurant selections depend on my mood and what I’m craving. I frequent Cafe Cluny, Extra Virgin, Chez Sardine, Joseph Leonard, Back Forty, Clinton Street Bakery, and Cafe Orlin. Put pancake month at Clinton Street Bakery on your calendar ASAP.
CSC: And nights—how have you been enjoying your nights these days?
AF: As many dinner parties as possible, both my friends and I enjoy hosting people. Food, wine, good conversation, maybe a movie in the background is all I need.