Interview with Manolo Costa

Interview with Manolo Costa

March 16, 2021

“I realized early on while working for other companies that I had my own story to tell, and that it was just a matter of time until I gave myself the chance to do so”

Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What is your background in the field of menswear and how did you started?
My name is Manolo Costa. I own and operate a fine bespoke tailoring shop in the UES. I am 41 years old, Father of two amazing kids (16 and 11) and I live in Lenox Hill in New York City. I got started about 20 years ago, working for Saks Fifth Avenue and was fortunate soon after to find Paul Stuart and Ralph Lauren in my trajectory. Paul Stuart was definitely one of the best schools I ever attended. I got to fill many roles during my tenure there. I started behind the tie counter and worked my way up to help develop and manage the launch of Phineas Cole. It was still a family owned business then, they don’t run them they like they used to. At Ralph Lauren I was asked to join the Managing team to help reintroduce the ultimate luxury shopping experience on Madison Ave. And we did just that. No one knows luxury better than Ralph, it was fascinating to say the least.
You are designer and founder of Manolo Costa New York – could you tell us about about your business and how it started?
I realized early on while working for other companies that I had my own story to tell, and that it was just a matter of time until I gave myself the chance to do so. I opened MCNY about 10 years ago, It is located in the Upper East Side. Our main focus is built around making beautiful tailored clothing for men and now women. Our Offering is fully bespoke, so it is not for everyone. But it is certainly for those who really appreciate the expert advise and the craftsmanship. When I started my business my goal was very simple and still is “make beautiful clothes while providing impeccable service” we remain true to that notion and invite people to come in to the shop for an experience unlike any other.

You have been well known through social media with your extreme tailoring perfection & elegance – how do you find inspiration to the way you dress and design your collections?

I think over the years what you realize is that style evolves, and while you might venture and experiment and make bold statements you always find yourself going back to the classic and traditional elements that make mens clothing so appealing. For me it’s about focusing on the sartorial principles that have gotten me to where I am today.

 

What is your earliest memory related to menswear and style?

That would be my great grandfather, always donning a 3 piece suit. I was very young and also very intrigued about his attire. I believe subconsciously it was embedded in me somehow. Even after retirement he never ceased to dress up especially when the occasion didn’t call for it.

 

Your style shows a good balance between classic and contemporary. What are your top tips for men trying to dress more elegantly in an age where more and more seem afraid of adopting a traditional masculine style ideal?

We are particularly careful when putting colors, patterns and textures together, a Timeless Appeal is what we always aim for. My advise would be Quality over Quantity, know your size and embrace it, and lastly Elegance is a state of mind not a fashion statement.

You dress some of the biggest business people & sportsmen in Manhattan/New York, Your lifestyle involves a lot of meetings with people. What is your signature of Manolo Costa tailoring & collection? Who is your typical Manolo Costa client?

In terms of Tailored clothing which is our core business, our house style has very defined characteristics, to name a few: Our shoulders are very soft and natural; Our Lapels are generally fuller; Button stance favorably lower, etc. You get the bigger picture when you come in to shop. 

Our typical client is an educated consumer, someone who recognizes and appreciates quality. Someone who respects and values our expert advice. Lastly Someone who enjoys and understands the impact of building a good image.    

As a following question of the past one, what makes your product special?

I always say “ The experience is exclusively yours” It is not just about the beautiful garments we make, they speak for themselves. It’s the story that makes it special. The getting to know you, the finding that special something that works for you and for you only. The moment when our clients realize they are in the right place with the right people. Finally, The reveal and subsequently their return for more.

For those who plan to commission their first bespoke garment – what fabric would you advise?

I think it really depends who the commission is for. If it is for someone just starting out, someone who wants to build a comprehensive wardrobe overtime I would say your first 3-5 pieces should be fabrics in all year round weight. You don’t want to limit your wearing and you want to emphasize versatility. A grey suit and a blue blazer are the perfect foundation to a very smart wardrobe.

For those who have been following you on the famous instagram account of Manolo Costa, you are well-known for your good taste and style – how does social effect or help you in your business?

Social media is such a magnificent platform. We find great value in sharing our work with our followers. A post can have such tremendous impact and can help us understand our potential client better. It is truly a small circle, those who are passionate about this craft and enjoy connecting with others all over the world. It is a great tool overall.

 

After been well known for your bespoke business, you launched a RTW collection of accessories and some garments, could you tell us about it?

We are very strategic when we bring something new to the RTW platform. It is usually limited quantities, and seasonal. We’ve had exclusive collaborations with shoe makers such as Norman Villalta and Gaziano Girling in the past and continue to look for new ones that compliment and reinforced the principles of our brand. Stay tuned!

 

If you had to name one person that influenced your style the most, who would that be?

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the most interesting men in the world; I am not influenced very easily but I find inspiration everywhere I go.

 

What is an essential wardrobe staple you always bring when traveling?

A crisp white buttoned down shirt.

Can you mention any essentials in your wardrobe for Spring/Summer 2021?

I am leaning towards very unconstructed Jackets for spring and summer.  Neutral tones primarily. What I have in the workshop currently: Dove grey 3 piece suit in wool, silk and linen; Classic tan Solaro DB suit; and an Ivory DB suit in linen and cotton. I am also getting a fresh set of linen shirts, can’t never have too many of those.

 

Manolo‘s favorite items:

Watch: 36mm Everose Gold Rolex Day-date Chocolate Sunray dial 

Jacket: Cashmere DB 4×1 blue blazer

Shirt: White linen buttoned down
Tie: Blue knit
Bag: Vintage cognac leather and army green canvas tote
Shoes: summer walk brown suede by Loro Piana 

Fragrance: Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle 

Accessories: Vintage Elsa Peretti Tiffany cufflinks, White linen handkerchief, my father’s old montblanc pen

Manolo’s Favorites:
Shops: Loro Piana, Bergdorf Goodman, Ralph Lauren
Restaurant: Polo Bar
Favorite Cities: New York, London, Milan
Holiday Choice: Saint John, Capri, Mykonos. I like the beach, you probably noticed by now
Car: Black 1953 Jaguar C-type
Style Icon: My great grandfather

Favorite music: Big fan of Film Scores, Shigeru Umebayashi, Gabriel Yard and Alexandre Desplat to name a few.

Interview by Tom Eriksson