Vendor Spotlight: Atelier by Ensemble Style
This month we interviewed the lovely Lauren Larsen, fashion expert and founder of Ensemble Style, a men’s style service, from a woman’s perspective. We sat down with Lauren to learn more about her most recent venture – helping grooms look their best on their wedding day.
JR: Tell us about your business. How did you get started in the fashion industry?
LL: Ensemble Style, my personal styling business, started with the desire to help men dress better, and to simplify the shopping process. I noticed while working downtown Calgary that there were a lot of guys who, to put it nicely, could look better! I know that men hate shopping, but I was certain that they still wanted to look good. I started Ensemble to help men create a simple, versatile, and effortless wardrobe.
Atelier began because of the frustrations I had finding suiting for my personal styling clients, either off-the-rack or custom, it seemed like everything we tried was a letdown. Alongside my tailor, who has been in the industry for many years, we curated a selection of high-quality Italian and English wools, and now have 15 Master Tailors that work with us to hand-cut and hand-make the suiting for our clients.
The difference is in the attention to detail. Each client is measured and fitted by me and only me, and they don’t leave with the suit until I deem it perfect. I truly have the best people on my team, and not only do we all love what we do, we all really, really care about our clients. Honestly, that makes all the difference. From the pattern, to the cut, to the sewing of the suit itself, to fittings and alterations, I have the best of the best working with me, and not a single corner is ever cut.
JR: What is your favourite thing about being involved in the wedding industry?
LL: I love working with couples to create well-fitting, unique and timeless looks. There is nothing better than getting a card, or a text, or a photo of the wedding, with a kind message like, “this was honestly the only time in my life I felt handsome” or, “the suit was perfect,” or “I’ve never had anything make me feel this good.” It’s this type of feedback that makes my job so special. I always feel honoured to be trusted with such a special and important day – it never gets old.
JR: How do you stay up to date with suit trends? Is there anything new and interesting for spring/summer 2019?
LL: One of the best things about suiting is how technical it is. Trends in menswear don’t change as quickly as they do in womenswear, and for the most part, men don’t want to look trendy in their suits. They’re investing money in a piece of clothing that is meant to last years, and if I encourage them to follow a trend, it is likely that their perfectly fitted, Italian wool suit, is going to go out of style within a couple of seasons. We focus more on timelessness, perfect tailoring and classic fabrics.
That said, I’ve had some grooms request something different and so we’ve been exploring deep greens, burgundies and patterns recently. I think that if we still focus on timelessness, even a deep green suit can be worn for years to come.
JR: What are your favourite/best-selling pieces for grooms?
LL: You can’t go wrong with a classic navy or grey suit. I always tell my clients that if they have just a single suit in their wardrobe, it should be navy blue or charcoal grey. They can wear it a million times, and because it’s so versatile, it can be interchanged with a variety of shirts and ties, and no one will ever expect they are wearing the same suit over and over.
For ties, I try to complement, not match, the rest of the wedding colours (bridesmaids, florals, etc.). I find it very “prom 2006” when the groomsmen match the bridesmaids and do my best to convince my clients to avoid that at all cost! I typically go with brown shoes, but if it’s a more formal event, or if any sort of black (suit or tie) is used, then we go with black shoes.
JR: What is the most challenging and rewarding part of your business?
LL: The two biggest challenges are tight deadlines and when people gain or lose weight. When a suit is perfectly cut to a person’s body, and then he goes on a crazy fitness kick or diet, it really affects the fit and we end up reconstructing things.
Having super tight deadlines is also a big stressor. One time I created a suit in just seven days. I literally received the delivery, went straight to my client’s house, did a fitting and he headed directly to the event he needed it for! It was stressful but so exciting to see how well it fit, and how happy he was with the outcome.
The most rewarding part of my work is watching the faces of my clients when they look in the mirror and see their suit for the first time. I recently had a guy smiling from ear-to-ear because he had so many bad custom experiences in the past, and he was shocked at the way the suit looked and felt. Last summer I had a female client, featured on the news, who wanted to wear a custom suit to her wedding. After visiting every made-to-measure suiting place, she was turned down and told they only dress men. She came to me and we made her the suit of her dreams. That was very, very rewarding!
JR: Tell us something interesting about yourself!
LL: I have the cutest little boy in the world, who I’m fortunate to spend a lot of time with. He keeps me almost as busy as my three businesses – Ensemble Style, Atelier and my newest project, Maide the Label. I’m also oddly intuitive and in tune with people’s energy. When I walk into a meeting or a group of friends, I can usually tell if someone is feeling off, or if something isn’t right. I’ve also been able to sense when someone is pregnant (one time before they knew it themselves). Sometimes I think I’m a witch, and I’m totally cool with that.
JR: Where can we best find you?
Thank you Lauren for sharing your story and allowing us to get to know you more,