Clothes shopping can be one of those dreaded experiences for men — right up there with prostate exams and visiting the in-laws. But if there were a place where guys could sip whiskey and watch sports, all while getting fitted for a custom suit or buying some new jeans and T-shirts, well, that might just change the game.
Q Clothier and Rye 51 are the retail brands dreamed up by Raja Ratan, the founder and CEO of the Q Fifty One, a Dallas-based company that has stores in the West Village and Preston Center, as well as Houston, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Atlanta.
Q Clothier is the “suiting side” of the store, complete with what Ratan says is the largest fabric library in the country. Custom-fit suits range from $1,095 to $10,000, he says. Custom shirts start at $160.
Rye 51 is the more casual cousin, where shoppers will find denim duds and small-batch styles of polo shirts, pants and shirts produced at family-owned factories in Italy, Spain, Peru and L.A.
The two distinct personalities of the shop are connected by a small whiskey bar, which is complimentary for customers and features brands such as Bullett Rye, Woodford Reserve, Pappy Van Winkle and Fort Worth’s own TX Whiskey.
“A busy guy needs to be catered to today. He’s not real excited to go to the mall,” says Ratan, a UT grad and second-generation haberdasher. “We want to create an atmosphere where a guy can feel relaxed, let his guard down, a place that’s not unlike his living room.”
The first Dallas store opened in 2003. Over the years, it has attracted a who’s who of DFW athletes — everyone from Cowboys legends Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Sean Lee to Texas Rangers ace Cole Hamels and TCU Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson.
“Athletes typically need custom clothing,” says Ratan. “Once you get into that fraternity of guys, it’s huge. They all talk, and you can easily expand that network.” Other athletes he mentioned as clients included Dallas Star Jamie Benn and several of the Dallas Mavericks.
On the Q side, each client gets a personal clothier, who takes their measurements and helps guide them through the fitting process and selecting their favorite styles and fabrics. Custom garments typically take four weeks to be delivered, Ratan says, and there is a tailor shop in the store. For long-term customers, clothiers occasionally will go to their homes or offices if they’re too busy to come into the shop, Ratan added.
The Clearfork store will be situated near the new Neiman Marcus, adding another luxury brick-and-mortar clothing shop in Fort Worth at a time when many are struggling or transitioning their business to online sales.
In that regard, Q Clothier feels like a bit of a throwback. For most of its existence, it didn’t have much of an online presence.
“We were probably the only company of our size on the planet not doing any sales online,” says Ratan. “Our business is so focused on the customer experience, so we didn’t think that it necessarily translated to the web.”
But after opening locations in Oklahoma City and Atlanta in 2016, the company purchased Dallas-based Edition Collective, and has launched online sales for Rye 51 and has seen more than 900 percent revenue growth. In April, Q Clothier will begin offering a service where customers can create their own virtual closet.
“A guy’s closet can be identified, we’ll have his measurements, and if he wants new or different fabrics with those same metrics we can provide that,” says Ratan. “Or if he says, ‘I need six more white shirts,’ we can do that, too.”
Of course, the custom-suit and personal clothier experience is not affordable for every man. Or even most men. But Ratan says being in an open-air mall like Clearfork makes the store more accessible to everyone.
“People certainly wander in (to our Dallas store), and it’s a good chance to educate them more on what we do,” he says. “I know a $1,500 suit isn’t an impulse purchase. But they may come back. Or they may be interested in something less dressy (from Rye 51.)”
As for why he decided to expand his brand to Fort Worth now, Ratan says it’s a growing area with a lot of young professionals. “And it is an under-served market,” he adds. “We don’t feel like there are a ton of options for this (type of shop) in Fort Worth.”