“We try to redefine elegance — taking what is colloquially classic and giving it a modern brush,” says Louis Ialenti, co-owner of men’s international tailor The Cloakroom.
Canadian born Louis was “chasing the sun” in Australia while studying for his Masters degree in Business when he met Cloakroom founder Andrew Byrne. “He started the business in a tiny room 11 years ago and I met him three years in,” explains Louis. “I got on board, started consulting and eventually joined as a partner. There was definitely a brand when I came in, but it was still in its infancy.” The Cloakroom in Brisbane’s CBD formerly resembled a colloquial tailor — “Think heritage, red sofas and scotch,” says Louis. “It’s a cheaper way to put a store together. But about four years ago we decided to switch the script completely — what would those 1950s stores look like today? Not trying to reference the past but instead evolve it.”
Appearance is not the only aspect of The Cloakroom that Louis has helped to evolve. “Tailoring is one of the few remaining fields where what you put into the product and the price you charge are heavily correlated,” he explains. “We realised that you can call yourself made to measure or bespoke but inevitably you can’t offer the full gambit of what that word means at $1200.”
Louis describes The Cloakroom as made to measure. “For us, pure made to measure is where you can contort proportionality in your pattern. It’s the angulation of everything; it’s making sure things are sewn a certain way for a particular body frame. It’s making sure the sleeve head is not only put on at the correct angulation for your arm but twisted with the right angulation of how you stand.”
A man of many trades, Louis attended law school while partnering with the tailor. He now manages work as a solicitor with his directing position. “There are a lot of similarities between working on the shop floor and being client facing [in law] — people who come into a store like this are looking for an outcome.” The outcome, according to Louis, is a world-class product. “We own our own pattern, we talk in millimetres, not inches; we source at the top of the pyramid and educate ourselves to the best degree.”
The most rewarding part of the process? “Where I’ll bump into a client and I can see my product on them,” he says. “Say it’s a Friday or Saturday night and they’ve decided to wear that garment on a night out because it’s a special event — that for me is really cool.”
As well as having stores in Montreal and Tokyo, The Cloakroom has adjacent bars in Montreal and Brisbane — both sporting “made to measure cocktails” rather than set menus. A new store is currently under construction in Melbourne.
The secret to building a successful brand, in Louis’s opinion, is time. “Getting in the game, shaking hands and meeting people. We haven’t fallen upon our producers because we got a deal — it’s because they’re the best we’ve ever seen so we have to offer that to our clients.”
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