‘It gives me joy to help people to look good’
2007-08-16 14:56:03 -
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In the latest instalment of Metro Eireann’s Meet The Boss, SANDY HAZEL speaks to Ezenwata Izundu, tailor and proprietor of Platinum Stitch in Dublin 

Ezenwata Izundu, originally from Nigeria, came to Ireland via Italy, where he learnt the Italian language and, more importantly, Italian style. “I had been living in Italy for a long time and then friends suggested that Ireland was a good place to live,” he says. “I find the people good here.” 
 
Izundu had trained in tailoring from the age of 13. “My father was a tailor for the [Nigerian] military and I grew up learning how to use the machines, it was a good way to see clothes being made. Before the war he did that and after the war he started his own business. He taught me how to sew. I did a little bit of pattern cutting too so I can cut and stitch.”

When Izundu arrived in Rome, he found that he loved the Italian style – the cloth, the cut and the shoes. “It is a unique way of dressing, particularly for men. I worked in the fashion industry in Rome and Naples and I loved it. There was nothing like that in Ireland when I came here.

“I found that some people would even stop me in the street and ask me where I got some item of clothing, I would tell them ‘Italy’. Whenever any Italians heard me speaking Italian it would also be an issue – ‘Where are you getting your clothes?’ etc. So I realised that this type of style was not readily available in Ireland, or if it was then it was prohibitively expensive at only exclusive shops.”

Using helpful contacts in the fashion industry in Italy, Izundu explored the possibilities of opening an outlet in Dublin, and Platinum Stitch was born. Located at 3 Blessington Street, just off Parnell Square, Platinum Stitch is an oasis of sartorial chic. The shop does not sell mass produced items; it concentrates on one-offs and ‘campions’, which are samples and original designs. Izundu also sources limited editions from fashion markets in Italy and he travels there every month. “At the moment I have good suppliers and sources of quality stock, our collection is unique in Ireland,” says Izundu, who himself wears Moschino and stocks the major Italian names.

“This location is an okay place for a start. There is a valuable shop front presence and I feel there may be an increase in footfall in this area. But I also market our shop so people know where we are and what we have in stock,” says Izundu. “Grafton Street rents are ridiculous. Even here the rent is quite high. The population here in Ireland is still not high enough to warrant these rents. Passers-by will increase with the population increase. I see the market growing but still being limited, which is not optimal for business. As a retailer of designer collections I recognise that school books and mortgages will come before buying a new suit, but there is still a decent market share for me.”

Izundu places adverts in newspapers and magazines, and does see a return on this spend. “I will get queries from customers outside of Dublin as a result of these adverts. It is a good way to raise my profile,” he says. “Sometimes I will build a list of contacts from existing customers if they are willing to leave their details. This way I can let them know of special deals and newly arrived stock. When my new collection comes in each month we get a lot of interest then.”

Izundu finds that although his clients are mainly African and Italian, he is seeing more Irish men coming through the door: “Where before there would be women buying for their boyfriends, now there are guys shopping for themselves. We try to make our customers feel good. If a suit does not fit exactly then we offer an alteration service and use a local tailor. The fit is very important. It gives me joy to help people to look good.” 
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