Part of the allure at Malcolm Jenkins’ Washington Square showroom is the chance the Eagles safety will take your suit measurements.
He might flip through pinstripe and windowpane fabric swatches with you. If you ask Jenkins’ advice, he’ll help you choose the right lapel, determine the number of buttons on the fitted-to-the-biceps blazer. And he’ll probably talk you into buying a vest -- three-piece suits are all the rage.
And when that stylish $500 to $1,600 purchase is all said and swiped, you and Jenkins might celebrate the style moment with a bourbon cocktail. (That’s Jenkins’ fave.)
Next month, Jenkins, with the help of his business partner Jay Amin, will officially open the 3,000-square-foot Damari Savile -- Damari, for Jenkins’ middle name, and Savile, a nod to London’s bespoke birthplace, Savile Row, in the city of Amin's birth.
The duo let local fashion insiders into their swank, hardwood-floor showroom last Wednesday to take advantage of the city's NFL draft excitement. Already, Damari Savile has received orders from NFL and NBA players.
"Oh, yeah, I'm really interested in getting a suit," said Jenkins' fellow safety Chris Maragos. "And, of course, I want him to take my measurements."
Jenkins' ability to connect with athletes and fashion trendsetters like style blogger Sabir Peele is one of many reasons the 29-year-old is sure his young fashion business will take off.
“We aren’t following rules or trends,” Jenkins told me in an interview minutes before we got a first glimpse at the space. “We are doing what we think looks good in a world where everybody is cookie-cutter.”
It’s not every day that an athlete from a city’s beloved sports team positions himself at the center of a meet-and-greet retail experience. Damari Savile is, however, among the latest examples of how Philadelphia's marketplace is mirroring millennial-heavy cities nationwide where young adults are shopping for purpose over sport.
"Customers expect an experience when they shop,” said Melissa Gonzalez, CEO of Lionesque Group, a retail strategy and consulting company in New York. “Menswear brands are able to connect with guys looking for a curated shopping experience with a made-to-measure approach built on loyalty that focuses on fit."
In this way, Philadelphia, often criticized for not being among fashion’s most cutting edge, is ahead of the curve.
Companies that started with a heavy online presence, like Indochino, MySuit, and Bonobos, are all thriving here alongside off-the-rack millennial favorite SuitSuply. (SuitSupply's success, Amin said, is one of the reasons he decided to go into business with Jenkins.)
At the same time, local entrepreneurs including Ron Wilch, with his eponymous made-to-measure tailoring business; Ontario Armstrong of Armstrong & Wilson, Brian Lipstein of Henry A. Davidsen, and Craig Von Schroeder of Commonwealth Proper are competing with the Neiman Marcuses and Saks Fifth Avenues of the world. Luxury isn't just a label anymore.
But as much as men’s focused approach to shopping is behind the evolving, intimate showroom shopping space, fashion is also a driving force, said Volker Ketteniss, head of menswear at the global trend forecasting company WGSN.
“Tailoring and streetwear aren’t two separate things anymore,” Ketteniss said. "To ignore one is to the detriment of the other."
Jenkins, whose first fashion foray was his New Orleans company Rock Avenue Bowties, agrees.
“I’m not one to stand on too much formality,” Jenkins told me. “But I am all about urging men to add that customized twist.”
That said, making the leap from bow-tie entrepreneur to custom-suit expert -- with no formal fashion training -- does take some help.
Enter 32-year-old Amin.
Amin moved from London to Montgomery County when he was 8 years old with his mother, a biochemist, and father, an entrepreneur with investments overseas.
After graduating from North Penn High School in Lansdale, Amin joined the Navy and in 2010 invested in the Microtel Inn in Bristol, Tenn. (Amin's uncle is a well-known hotelier in the South.)
In 2013, Amin's friend Aleks Musika partnered with designer Davidson Frere and started the Musika Frere custom-suit line. Kevin Hart and Jay Z wear the suits.
“I got a front-row seat, learning the ins and outs of menswear suiting," Amin said. "I was able to learn from a lead fashion designer. I took it in all just by being there."
Two years later, Amin became a partner in Caballero Shoes, a high-end leather shoe company in Miami, where he learned more about the menswear business.
One night in December, when the Eagles beat the New York Giants, Amin, who was friends with Eagles running back Ryan Mathews, met Jenkins in front of the Center City nightclub Rumor.
“I knew that Malcolm had a bow-tie line, and I knew that he was highly involved and interested in fashion, and he knew I had fashion roots," Amin said. "So I asked him if he would be interested in going into business."
Five months later, the duo is enjoying a soft opening. In time, Amin says, he hopes to have a tailor in house for on-site alterations and to expand Damari Savile's ready-to-wear line.
Damari Savile is at 709 Walnut St.