As promised, I will continue my expose of some of the great entrepreneurs I know. The one you will meet has been a friend of mine since CEGEP. I briefly spoke about him in my post about "Being your own boss". He has some great insight on men's fashion. So if you are looking for a special gift for that for that special man in your life, why don't you stop by Clusier Habilleur, ask for Pierre-Benoit, he's the nicest!
Name : Pierre-Benoit Duhamel
N. :What do you do?
Founder and Owner of Clusier habilleur, one of Montreal’s finest Menswear stores located at 432 McGill in Old Montreal. My days consist of developing the branding, the image and the “feeling” of Clusier habilleur. All major decisions concerning collections, marketing, PR, store experience, web presence and advertising are taken by myself with the assistance of my store manager and sales people. I also travel to “build” the store collections, source manufacturers and find the new emerging brands. Recently, I have improved the Clusier brand to become a “full menswear lifestyle” brand. My Clusier branded products now include the following items: Dress shirts, ties, cufflinks, Suits, Jackets, trousers and sportswear. I also consult on appointment with my good customers to ensure their public image and clothing are always at its best. Most of my time is spent in the store working on marketing plans and future expansion plans.
N. :Why did you decide to start a Men’s Store?
When I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life… I knew I wanted to work for myself and run my own business with no one to tell me how to run it! I worked on a plan to import a high end shoe line from Switzerland for about one year and that fell through. I realized that there was a niche in the Montreal market for a high-end/high-service Mens clothing store where executives would come have a cognac or two, discuss their business and then get outfitted for the season. One thing led to another and I was opening my first location without really knowing what I was getting into. I look back now and realize I had to be a little bit CRAZY back then. Here I was at 23, with no experience running a menswear store with a full made-to-measure program. Now with the right people in place, a better location and a true understanding of my customers, my business has developed exponentially.
N. : What are some brands that you carry, what are your favorites?
We carry many brands at Clusier. My philosophy in buying for the store is as follows: “Buy the best every brand has to offer. Do not buy items that these brands are not pros in.” For instance, I will not buy ties from a manufacturer that specializes in suits and outsources their tie production. Here is a list of Clusier habilleur’s best brands: Valstar Milano, Allegri, Tombolini, Coppley, Samuelsohn, Marcoliani, GranSasso, Aquascutum London, Citizens of humanity, Bugatti, Grenson, Vicomte A., Fullum and Holt, Skive, Earnest Sewn, Postage Denim, and of course my own brand Clusier!
My favorite coat is a re-edited version of the Trench by ALLEGRI. It does not matter what brands you wear, it’s all about proper fit, quality fabrics and the personality of the person wearing it. A confident gentleman could wear a good fitting Zara suit and look like prince!
N.: What is the piece of clothing every man should own?
This may sound boring, but a well tailored slim fitting Navy blazer is a staple. You could wear it in a different manner everyday of the week and no one would know it. Pair it with jeans and a white dress shirt to go to buvette à simone or pair it with a tie and go to Ferreira Café…
N.: What are the trends in Menswear for Winter 2011?
Every time I am asked this question, I jump a little… What we do at Clusier is not “trendy”. We provide quality clothes to men who always want to look the part and understand the value and benefit of luxurious garments. If I make a client a suit, I want him to wear it for the next five years. We do not provide “disposable” fashion like most our competitors. We actually care about the public image of our clients and have a great long lasting relationship with them. We don’t sell clothes, we consult and provide them with the best options to better suit their lifestyle. So I can’t answer this question because I just don’t think like that.
8. Christmas is around the corner, name your top 3 items (from your store) you suggest for the wonderful men in our lives? (you can add more if you want, and make sure that the budgets are different and for different types of men)
A) A Clusier gift card for a made-to-measure suit. We will take care of the whole fitting process and he could select his own fabric to make his unique suit. Approx. $1500 depending on the fabric range selected
B) Marcoliani Cashmere socks. No man buys these for himself, they have to be a gift. The only problem is that the girlfriend always ends up wearing them - $95
C) A charcoal GREY Cashmere light V-neck sweater by GRANSASSO. The fit is perfect and you could wear it all the time. - $350
N.: Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they?
I have a few hobbies to disconnect from my business. It took me two years to be able to disconnect my personal life from my business life. Here they are:
A)Squash: I try to play squash twice a week. The best workout in a 40 minute session.
B)Reading: I love to read books about the history of a particular society or product. For instances I am reading a book about the evolutions of clocks through time.
C)RESTAURANTS: With the hours I do at the store I must say I have not been cooking much lately. I have two favorites in the city: Ferreira café and F-BAR. I also have brunch with different friends at l’express every Sunday! Always at the counter, never at a table to get the real experience.
D)Skiing: In the winter I ski every week and disconnect from the city.
N.: If you were given 1 million $, what would you do with it?
I would invest in real estate with a few other guys in Old Montreal!
N.: What is your favorite quote?
This quote is about attitude: “Two stone cutters were asked what they were doing. The first responded: I cut this stone into blocks. The second said: I am on a team that is building a cathedral.” I think about this one every day and tell my staff about it. I want my employees to be part of the whole business and have a positive outlook!
N.: Iphone or Blackberry?
I have a blackberry, but try not to use it for things other than text messaging and phone calls. I hate the concept of people being able to get in touch with you 24/7. Sometimes I leave it at home on purpose on Sundays not to be bothered! I am actually thinking of switching back to a basic cell phone not to see the small red light flash every time I get an e-mail. (N. : haha I can so relate to that!)
N: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Fondant au chocolat au Café Ferreira! And I must say the women love that dessert even more than me!
N.: You work with men all day, and make them look good and sexy, but how about women? What piece of clothing or accessory do you find sexiest on a woman and why?
For me an elegant woman that does not reveal too much is a sexy woman. I dislike makeup, excessive jewelry and strong perfume… Truly, I do not really have a particular piece of clothing I could think of that is perfect for a woman. Just simple, elegant, natural and full of smiles. That’s all I need. I work in a superficial business, but I am conscious of it. I don’t let this impact the rest of my life and the last thing I do is judge people by what they wear.
N.: What else can make a woman sexy?
Her smile. Her honesty. Her conversation. Her outlook on the world.
I also think Louboutin shoes are sexy, but that’s superficial and I truly don’t care what brand of shoes people wear.
N.: If you were to qualify the blogger (me) in one word, what would it be?
Now that was probably the best part of the whole interview.. Sparkling :)