Fasion & Style: From restaurants to real estate to fashion, Alan Rouleau never could have imagined where his life has taken him. A staple in Boston's luxury fashion industry for the past two decades, Alan Rouleau is known for creating the city's most distinctive custom-designed clothing.
"I was in the restaurant business for several years and then moved to Boston as a vice president for a real estate company," said Alan Rouleau. "While I was there, I did a business plan for someone who wanted to open a men's store with custom tailoring. They decided they didn't want to do it and I was left with a 42-page business plan. There was a space in Faneuil Hall that opened up and I thought it would be a great source of additional income. I went to some tailoring classes with the goal of getting the store open. By 1991, Town and Country magazine had written me up as one of the best tailors in the country."
Shortly after that, Rouleau moved to Boston's fashionable Newbury Street where he remains today. "I have spent 21 years in Boston and my business has evolved to wardrobing," he said. "I have cufflinks from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I offer unique gifts that are also functional. We have socks from Peru with funky colors, stripes and patterns and some amazing pieces."
Alan Rouleau/Couture has two full-time tailors, who work alongside Rouleau as well as an assistant. "I consider myself to be a lifestyle retailer because I live my client's lifestyle," he said. "I make ties, belts, shoes, shirts, suits, and everything in between."
Rouleau previously had two other locations with 11 tailors but he believes he ended up managing the company instead of his clients. As a result, he closed the other locations and focuses his entire efforts now on his primary location where he works closely with more than 200 customers. "If someone is going to spend $3,000 on a suit, they want me to design it," he said. "I make sure I earn every dollar I charge them and personally see every client."
Rouleau has won numerous awards and even dressed the Prince of Monaco. What is the secret to his success? "I think it is a work in progress," Rouleau says modestly. "It's been a 21 year learning curve but I feel there is always room for improvement. I like the fact that we're a small company because it's all about the service we provide. I have access to the finest clothing in the world. I think we do things nobody else does. We are looking for a client for life, not just a one shot deal."
The company saw a 22 percent increase in sales in 2008 from the previous year. "If you go to a department store, chances are you will get a sales person who is not educated on how clothes are made," he said. "Sales people sell clothing. I am experienced in making clothing. I know how buttonholes should be made. For us, it"s like a package deal, like a 24-hour stylist. I look at a person and take everything about them into consideration from their height, and weight to their personality and make clothes that are flattering. I always tell people fashion goes out of style but style never goes out of fashion."
The price for a custom made suit by Rouleau starts at $1,900.
For more information, visit www.alanrouleau.comor call (617) 424-SUIT (7848).
For LxM Kellie K. Speed