From a young age Stefon Du Pont has had a love of fashion. But over the years he was continually disappointed in the local selection of menswear.
As a result, the 28-year-old created his own menswear company – Andre Bernard’s The Gentleman’s Place TT – which sells international, formal and casual, high-end menswear from Turkey, Italy, and the US. Andre Bernard is his pseudonym for the fashion house.
There he provides two- and three-piece suits, tuxedos, blazers, polo shirts, jeans, shoes, and men’s accessories including brands such as Kenneth Cole Reactions, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren.
“Attaining high-end clothing in the Caribbean has been a problem for most men. If it is of good quality, then the prices are exorbitant and if we want reasonably priced suits, we always have to compromise quality. That’s why a lot of persons don’t enjoy their overall shopping experience. We are here to change that system.”
The company was officially started in June 2020 on the social media platform, Instagram. Clients would contact the company on social media through direct message or email. They would indicate the colours they were looking for and Du Pont would send them pictures of different options. The clients would then choose one and let him know their size. If the item was not in stock, he would order it and when it arrived, the client would meet one of his tailors for a fitting.
However, on January 8, Du Pont launched a physical space – a consultation office – at 59 Eastern Main Road, Arouca. He staged his first fashion show virtually a week later on January 16.
“Because there was such a great demand and a lot more clients are flooding in, we created a consultation office. I think in TT we associate legitimacy with a physical space and we wanted to reassure customers that we are here to provide a proper, legitimate service.”
He said The Gentleman’s Place was not a walk-in store but a clothing experience. Clients could make an appointment for a consultation at his office where they would discuss colour, the right type of suit for the occasion, design, material and size.
Designs include solid, plaid, windowpane, slim fit, classic, modern fit, single or double breasted while the materials include wool, velvet, linen, techno-stretch and more. Also, sizes start from small to XXL.
The suit is then ordered, and a fitting is arranged with a professional tailor when the suit arrives so as to make alterations to give a perfect fit.
The Gentleman’s Place also gives grooming and dressing advice including styling tips on how to use a pocket square, the type of tie that matches the body size, and the best shoes for a particular suit. It also encourages colour blocking and the use of patterns while maintaining a classic look.
Du Pont told Sunday Newsday as a pre-teen his parents regularly took him to events where formal wear was mandatory. That developed into a love for formal wear and an interest in designs, patterns, quality material and proper fit.
When he started shopping for himself, the suits he bought never lasted very long because of the inferior quality material. For example, the colours faded quickly, the material tore easily, and buttons popped off.
However, he did his best with what was available and eventually people started calling him “dapper” or “GQ.”
At that point, he did not want to wear what everyone else had. It would annoy him when he went to an event and two or three other people would have on the same shirt since there were certain brands most people bought due to the lack of variety available locally.
He started doing his own research and when he travelled he purchased suits for himself. Soon, friends began asking him to shop for them.
“When I came home and wore the suits, a lot of people would ask, ‘Where did you get that suit, tie, shirt? It made me realise we really do have a problem locally and it wasn’t just an issue for me. That propelled me to find suits to provide the variety that the European and American brands offer.”
His friends always appreciated his choices and that gave him the confidence to expand to providing men’s wear to the general public. So, he founded Andre Bernard’s The Gentleman’s Place TT.
“2020 was a year of uncertainty but we took this step during the pandemic to really make our mark in the clothing industry. The amazing thing is it was propelled a lot faster than we thought with micro-weddings and engagements happening and the general public going back out to work slowly. People were using it as an opportunity to update their wardrobes so when everybody is able to go back out to work in full force, they would have new and fresh clothes to head out with.”
From the beginning, the majority of his clients were grooms and groomsmen. He, therefore, reached out to a luxury event planner and designer company – The Luxury Umbrella Agency – for a partnership where The Gentlemen’s Place would be their preferred recommendation for its grooms and he would recommend the agency to his grooms.
Du Pont works full time and was nervous about starting his own business. However, he had conversations with friends, family, and social media influencers who all encouraged him to do it. He did and was surprised and delighted by the response.
“The only way to attempt a business is just to do it. We could procrastinate as long as we want but to see the outcome and get the benefits you need to start. I wish I did it earlier. I would recommend that people not be afraid and just go for your dreams.”