Francesco Reale, CEO of ModaMatters Custom Menswear: A Conversation with The Peak Lapel
Who are you and what do you do? Where can people follow your work online?
I’m Francesco Reale; founder & CEO of ModaMatters, a custom menswear brand based out of Philadelphia. People can find out more about us at ModaMatters.com as well as @modamatters on IG and Instagram.
How did you first get into men’s style/clothing/fashion and when did you decide to turn it into something more than just a hobby?
I’ve always been interested in how to be different. Growing up, I wasn’t the most popular or most athletic in my group of friends so clothes were my way to stand out. Then, while I was in the corporate world, I was young for my position, so I dressed well in suits to not seem so young.
The idea for ModaMatters came during a grad school trip to Vietnam. I cold-called a few suppliers while I was there, skipped class to visit one, and they started making clothes for me and then my friends. The rest is history (hopefully).
What is your hair styling routine, if any? What products do you use and why?
Full-disclosure: I’m pretty bad about putting product in my hair during the day, but I tend to use Crew. I fully dry my hair and then put it in pretty quickly by hand. I may be the most low-maintenance fashion-related entrepreneur when it comes to that stuff. If it ever slows down (in a good way), I’m sure I’ll spend more time on it!
What is your EDC (“Every Day Carry”), and why? Where do you keep which items? What do you never leave home without?
I usually carry my Herschel backpack that contains my MacBook, a bunch of documents that I never get around to reading, my iPhone, and headphones/chargers, etc. I’m usually wearing a patch-pocket blazer. I’ve become so spoiled being able to wear them and actually carry things in my pockets. It’s honestly one of the greatest Italian creations ever. I live in my car so there’s usually samples, suit bags, boxes, and anything I’m bringing back and forth from the office. The two most important things I carry are the phone and MacBook. I’m constantly working so I have them close by at all times.
How would you describe your personal style? What is your go-to outfit?
Casual suiting is the best way to describe my style. I’m not super buttoned-up. Usually, I wear a suit, a silk-knit or grenadine solid tie, and wing tips or Chelsea boots. My go-to outfit would be a navy flannel 0909 double breasted blazer, jeans, Chelsea boots, a light oxford, and a silk knit tie.
What is the biggest splurge style item you own and why?
When I was 24, I bought a Louis Vuitton tie in Paris at their flagship store. Insanely expensive, but the most beautiful non-ModaMatters item I own. I even kept the box for a few years. It’s my go-to for big meetings, but I need to create a ModaMatters replacement soon!
What is your favorite style purchase of the last year and why? Least favorite?
My favorite: Gordon Rush Chelsea boots; they are cognac and super comfortable.
Least favorite: I don’t have one. I’m pretty picky with buying my clothes.
What is your morning routine? Nighttime routine?
My morning routine is as follows:
6 AM: Wake Up, Check Emails, a light breakfast and espresso
7 AM: Gym
8:30 AM: Emails, Eat, Shower, commute to our studio office at WeWork
I usually wind down with some TV-binge watching, brush my teeth, and do one last check on emails. Bed. I am bad about unplugging. It’s one of my 2018 resolutions!
What is one style rule you think more guys should be breaking? On the flip side, what is one style mistake you see (even some otherwise well-dressed guys) commonly making?
Break!: “Double Breasted is formal.” A well-fitting, natural shoulder DB suit can be worn with jeans and looks great. Too many men refuse to try it.
Broken: Sizing. Men wear things that are too large or with shoulder pads. If you’re a novice, as a general rule: If you think it’s too big, it definitely is. Go a size down.
What book have you gifted most often?
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I feel like the story mirrors what ModaMatters has gone through a lot. I gift it to everyone on our team.
How often do you read, and what kind of books? What is your overall media consumption like? How do you balance all that while staying productive?
I set a goal to read a book a month and it’s been tough. There is so much going on. I try to keep one weekend night (either Saturday or Sunday) for non-work related activities. Since I turned 30, I have actually spent significantly less money on clothes and more on experiences. I’ll try to take a cooking class or dance class. Other than that, rarely am I not consuming media. I’m usually listening to a podcast (“How I Built This,” “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” or Andy Frisella’s various podcasts). You’re always thinking you can do more, but the key is to breathe because everyone needs a break.
How do you keep yourself productive? What advice would you give to someone who is looking to be more productive?
I keep myself productive by imagining all the people that have given me this opportunity. My parents emigrated here and left family behind to give me this opportunity. My friends all took chances on our products early on and let me make mistakes in the process while still being supportive. Finally, I have an entire team working to make sure this is a success. It’s easy to stay productive when you keep that pressure on you.