Dmitriy Metsaev of Icon Suit
Our series Talk Shop is a career and style profile featuring personalities from various industries. They are shot on location in Cherry Creek wearing clothing from stores in the area. Culture & Style Editor ANNIE BLOJ interviews the owner of Icon Suit Dmitriy Metsaev. Dmitriy wears clothing from Icon Suit.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CAROLINE MILLER
Annie Bloj: Dmitriy, I had such a great time with you and Tatsu (Ogata) at the photoshoot at your gorgeous custom suiting showroom, Icon Suit, in Cherry Creek North. You both have had such interesting and parallel experiences that have brought you to this point in your life, I can’t wait to learn more about you. You had a very different life before getting into custom suiting, where did you grow up and what discipline did you study?
Dmitriy Metsaev: I moved to Russia from Lithuania, which was a complete culture shock, to study literature and got my degree in the Arts. My first job was a teacher in a secondary school; I taught a class of kids from unfortunate families. It was a very rewarding job to bring the interest of education to my students whose only thought was to skip the class. However, my monthly salary was three and a half dollars a month and exactly at this time the socialist system collapsed and the whole economy was in ruins. I then realized it would be nice to make a bit more money than forty dollars a year so I got my degree in law at the same University. By that time I was already working as a camp counselor in a camp for handicapped people in Texas for two seasons and studied a bit in Northampton (UK) at Nene college for Political and Social Science. The next 13 years were boring - if you can call struggling through the nineties in Russia boring compared to how I perceived what life was like in America. Once I realized that being a lawyer in Russia is no fun, I decided that it was the right time to get my third degree- this time an MBA. I went to Vlerick Business School which was always ranked within the top three business schools in Europe.
AB: You mentioned when we spoke that traveling led you to see the world of tailoring and opportunity for growth within that market. When did you take notice of custom suiting and what impression did it leave on you?
DM: By that time, as a successful lawyer, I was flying to Naples two times a year to order my custom suits. Once I attended a wedding and noticed that I looked way better than the groom. He noticed it too and I offered to exchange suits with him as he was one of my dearest friends and the size-matched. That’s when I realized that the market was lacking good suiting options. This story always reminds me to mention that Icon Suit offers fantastic deals for weddings!
AB: You made a big move when you changed careers, what prompted you to make the leap?
DM: How did the successful lawyer with three degrees including an MBA, from Saint Petersburg, turn into a personal tailor? What led to the crash of my very successful lawyer career? As my pilot friend says - there is never one reason that causes a crash. For me, those reasons included the necessity to fly to Naples every half a year to have my suits made and my interest in the fashion business. I always adored people that managed to take a piece of cloth, make something beautiful and then sell it at a mark-up of twenty times. That combination of reasoning brought me to the crash of my previous career just with a bit of an opposite result - we went up! There are few reasons for that, I think that Icon Suit produces very sartorial suits - handcrafted - we have an option to make the suit by hand and very often people confuse us with major brands like Brunello Cucinelli and Kiton. It takes us sometimes years to train a stylist and person who measures our customers - and customers feel it and then the price is very competitive. It is impossible to get a proper suit for less than a 1000 US Dollars. We know production costs, the price of good fabrics, logistics, property lease and we try to keep the price within this range.
AB: How did you find the industry at first? Were you able to take your previous experience and apply it to your new life?
DM: As you know, every industry has several layers. What I learned from my previous life and what makes Icon Suit so unique is that you can skip enormous expenses in marketing, positioning, content creation, but you can never compromise on the quality of service or the product. But if you cut out the unnecessary expenses you can actually provide a really luxurious product and terrific service for a very reasonable price. I call it “Smart Luxury”, the rule by which I live my life. Who needs that Bentley Bentayga if there is a Range Rover on the market?” Those aren’t my words - the marvelous Jeremy Clarkson said that. By the way, we are the official partner of Range Rover Moscow, every person purchasing a Range Rover gets a gift card from us. We are thinking about bringing the same service to Denver.
AB: You went on to have an amazing career in suiting, conquering the Russian and Eastern European markets. What sparked the inspiration to move the business to America?
DM: Well, the US fashion market is the biggest in the world, it is also the most competitive market. But you know, just like hockey, everybody in the world wants to play in the NHL. The question is if you are qualified enough it means that you are one of the best in the whole universe. Taking into consideration our ultimate success in Denver, Icon Suit has stationed itself as an international and very qualified player and we are ready to move forward. By the way, talking about NHL players, I want to express my deepest gratitude to many NHL players who are our beloved customers.
AB: What attracted you to Denver, a city considered more casual than New York or Chicago?
DM: I like telling the story as if the brightest minds were making the plans for Icon Suit and everything was taken into consideration. We did a lot of specific analysis and based on the information received from various sources, Denver was acknowledged as the best city to start the business in the US. We measured and weighed every single detail except one - no one wears suits in Denver. This is partially true, but I visited Denver quite often and came to understand that this is a very casual city- but I just fell in love with it. You hardly meet this kind of combination of weather, fantastic people and activities in the world. Besides, if you can make it in Denver with custom suiting, it means you can probably sell cashmere winter sport coats in the middle of the Sahara desert.
AB: You have grown an amazing and diverse clientele at your showroom in Cherry Creek North. What would your guests expect to find when entering Icon Suit?
DM: Icon Suit is for everyone, as I said we are in the “Smart Luxury” segment where everyone can enjoy fantastic quality and service at a very reasonable price. Before, custom hand-made clothes were affordable to very few; now it is time for everyone to enjoy this experience. We have revolutionized the approach to shopping. Instead of roaming around shopping malls wasting your time usually not even finding what you want, now you can get into our cozy store, have a few drinks, relax and create your wardrobe within minutes. You can order exactly what you want since Icon Suit makes not only suits but also custom jeans, custom shirts, custom sport coats, custom overcoats, custom chinos, custom ties, custom shoes, and even custom sneakers. Of course, we always encourage you to come to the store with your friends; the shopping experience turns into a party!
AB: Rumor has it that you are starting a business of women's custom suiting to compliment your current business. That is so exciting! What is your inspiration for this new venture?
DM: No comment on that! We have about 100 people already on the waiting list and the trials that we have produced for the female partners of our male customer look amazing. You guys will be the first to know! The only thing I can comment on is that it will be the same approach, smart luxury, fantastic quality and service at reasonable prices. Everything will be custom made.