Kryštof Kodl and Petr Jůza decided to take their chances and believed that Czech man is not yet a lost case and his wardrobe can be stylish and elegant while casual. They founded Friendly Suits, a company that offers perfectly tailored suits according to your requirements.
That’s not ground-breaking itself but the guys do things in a different way – they have their own style and they live for men’s fashion. You can’t imagine them wearing anything else but a neatly ironed shirt and a flawless suit. Both of which they will gladly design for you too. The method they use to make the suit is called made to measure. They measure you, listen to your demands on material, cut, number of pockets and shapes of seams, and based on that their tailors make a perfectly fitting suit for you and you only. They are absolute perfectionists and pay attention to every detail.
The showroom on Panská Street where they moved from Žižkov is proof enough. The interior’s clean space reminds one of a luxury boutique with the exception that you will feel totally relaxed. The important element is a glass wall that connects the showroom with a small working space. Right in front of the eyes of the customers, the final touches to suits and accessories are being made without which a stylish man cannot get by.
Did you graduate in fashion design or did you learn how to tailor yourself?
It’s necessary to say that neither Petr nor I are tailors. Our education is mostly in economics and humanities. We have a tailor who went to a classical Viennese school and apart from him we, of course, have the whole mechanical means to produce made to measure suits. Petr and I work as advisers and consultants. That’s something you don’t need to study for - a little bit of experience and enthusiasm will do.
How did you attract your first customers? Weren’t you worried that men in the Czech Republic aren’t really fond of distinctive fashion?
Our first customers came from a close circle of our friends, of course. However, the first session was already visited by a couple of people who knew about us from Facebook. Facebook was, along with personal selling, one of our main channels for gaining new clients. And were we worried? We weren’t. Back then we already felt that the Czech man is not as badly off in regards to fashion and that there is simply a boom of this market segment.
How long does it usually take from the first appointment for a new customer to take their finished suit home with them? Do you try to get to know all your customers better in order to project their personalities in the individual details of a suit?
The delivery times started to be unmanageable when we reached a certain amount of orders, so we worked it out and now the standard delivery is around one month from the first appointment. Of course we try to get to know our customers better. It is one of the most important things that distinguishes our service from ready-made clothes. When a man comes to us we sit down, have a cup of coffee and chat about suits, look at fabrics and at the end we get exactly what the client wants and needs. The thing is that people pay for something that hasn’t even been made at that point yet, so it is important to build comfortable relationships based on trust. Apart from that, we certainly enjoy sharing our enthusiasm and can talk for a very long time about men’s fashion.
You’ve expanded your range to include women’s shirts and jackets. Have you gained any loyal female customers? Are there any other new developments?
We know how to make women’s shirts and jackets but, to be honest, they are currently not our core products. We mainly focus on men (business-wise to be clear). There is also a slight difficulty that we can only make women’s suits and jackets manually – because of their more complicated shapes – and it gets radically more expensive. A suit for around 25 000 crowns is not very cheap. Nevertheless, a group of our satisfied female customers has been growing. Honestly, a lady in a beautifully fitting bespoke jacket is simply beautiful. Further to your question, we do prepare loads of new products. However, it will remain a secret, so let’s make it a surprise.
Where do you get your fabrics from and how did you find your suppliers?
Our fabrics come mostly from Italy. In the Czech Republic, however, you can get the iconic Scabal, one of the most popular producers of fabrics in the world, originating in Belgium. Some of the fabrics are available already in stock and we buy the rest ad-hoc for current clients. Getting high-quality fabrics is dependent on contacts, which generates more and more contacts. The most important phase to go through is establishing the most reliable suppliers. Reliability (hand in hand with the quality of fabrics) is the most important thing. We’ve already gone through a situation where a supplier disappeared when we had ordered fabrics with him for a significant number of clients.
Do you ever buy ready-to-wear clothes or have you completely turned against it?
To be honest we buy ready-to-wear clothes very rarely. We’re currently working to offer a complete assortment for a stylish man. It would be only counterproductive to defend the colours of other brands. ;)