Life is about your story. Living on your own terms. Treating yourself to the finest life has to offer.
Francesco Reale embodies this spirit, and has built a luxury custom menswear brand to show for it. Leaving behind a successful corporate career, he set off to make his own way and legacy – just as his immigrant parents did years ago – and founded ModaMatters. Serving clients who seek exceptional style and demand the highest-quality materials, this company has quickly left its mark on men’s fashion.
Looking toward fashion in 2018, we sat down with Francesco for an inside look at custom luxury menswear, what sets this company apart from other high-end fashion brands, and the opportunities that exist on the horizon.
Q: You left a career to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. What were the driving forces of this decision?
A: Like Robert De Niro’s character said in A Bronx Tale, “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent”. Even though I’d been successful in my previous career with an Italian helicopter manufacturer, working my way up the ranks from entry level just out of college to managing the supply chain organization, I always knew that I was capable of so much more. Plus, the only way to have real freedom and a lasting legacy is to be an entrepreneur. I watched my father do it, and have always had so much respect and admiration for him.
As Italian immigrants, my parents did not come here with much. My father started his own business and my mother left her family behind because there was a better life for us here. So, in addition to my own ambitions, I also feel like I have a responsibility to make my way the same way that they did.
Q: What is ModaMatters and who are the type of clientele that you serve?
A: ModaMatters is a custom menswear brand for men who live on their own terms. Our clients are people who have been successful in life because they are driven, and they invest in themselves. They like well-made, high-quality clothing, but also have their own unique sense of style that they don’t – and shouldn’t – want to compromise.
Unlike a lot of other luxury brands, we meet our clients where they are, learning about their style preferences and personalities, and then help them to create well-made, wearable works of art that express their style, tastes, and personalities.
We’re reimagining luxury, high-end, bespoke suiting and shirting to make it expressive, collaborative, and fun, with a touch of authentic Italian design.
Q: Talk to us about the challenges and obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are today?
A: Growing up, I was never the strongest, best looking, or most athletic. It was very frustrating because those were things I couldn’t control. But one thing that I could control, which I realized pretty early on, was how I dressed. That’s how I initially became interested in fashion and style – and it’s how I got the nickname Moda, which has obviously stuck with me over the years.
Throughout my childhood and into my 20’s, as I set out to climb the corporate ladder, I always placed a premium on dressing better. I thought that dressing well and working hard would get me to where I wanted to be. And to an extent it did. But after years of grinding in the corporate world, and getting where I thought I wanted to be, I realized it wasn’t enough. So, it forced me to realize that the only way to reach my full potential was to build something of my own.
Being an entrepreneur and building a business presents its own unique set of challenges, from design to operations to resources, but the reward of being responsible for my own success is worth the headaches.
Q: What are the key factors that set you apart from the others in this industry?
A: Until recently, high-quality custom clothing hasn’t really been accessible to regular men. And even over the past couple of years, when other made-to-measure menswear brands have appeared on the scene, the process of finding and getting fitted for a suit has been just that: a process.
We don’t rely on futuristic technology, hyper-exclusivity or deep discounts to drive transactional sales; we provide an above-and-beyond level of consultation and service, and build enduring partnerships and relationships with our clients as we help them find their personal style.
Unlike others in the space, ModaMatters has turned made-to-measure suiting and shirting into an experience; one that’s relaxed, collaborative, educational, and fun.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you could share with anyone looking to invest in a custom luxury suit and accessories.
A: Price or environment doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. The stories behind the products do. Our grenadine ties are made in Como, Italy on looms from WWII. Our shirts are made in Puglia, created by people dedicated to the art of shirt making, with distinct characteristics only found in shirts from Italy. Our fabrics are selected with care and consideration, and we often buy limited runs of extremely high-quality fabric that are exactly the same as those used by the most high-end designers.
Don’t settle or compromise. Treat yourself. If you look good, you feel good, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that. And when you get a few things that reflect who you are, fit you perfectly, and make you feel like your best self, you’ll recognize the value. Pay for the quality of the product and the quality of the service, not the brand name or a plush showroom.
Q: Where do you see opportunities exist by way of collaboration and partnerships with industry leaders and influencers?
A: Two major opportunities exist: Complementary products and design collaborations.
We’re always looking to add complementary products to complete the shopping experience for men. We’d like to be able to partner with other brands to offer the full range of items within our website and showroom to solve that problem. We’re looking at things like ready-to-wear outerwear, leather goods, socks, shoes, and have even had requests to do athleisure apparel and sneakers.
So far for 2017, we have launched a partnership with 0909 Fatto in Italia, an Italian Fashion house, to offer Made-in-Italy topcoats, raincoats, and other really unique and beautiful ready-to-wear items. For design collaborations, we are always scouting for leading fashion influencers who share our vision, with whom we can collaborate on special collections. We have a number of exciting collaborations on the horizon, including the next capsule collection with Sabir Peele, Creative Director of Men’s Style Pro, famous for his work with other major menswear brands as well as Esquire and GQ. We’re very happy with how it turned out, and our plan is to continue to co-design unique collections that will help us gain notoriety and also evolve the product offerings at the forefront of men’s style.
Q: What is on the horizon at ModaMatters?
A: Growth. It’s time for us to take our next big step forward. We plan on touring the United States to host trunk shows in various major cities in early 2018. We’ll start with NYC, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, and cap off the tour with a dedicated show in the Los Angeles area in the spring. By the end of 2018, we hope to have enough of a client following to keep permanent offices in major cities around the country, and then we’ll look international. We don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
To learn more about ModaMatters or to shop their collections, visit www.modamatters.com.