Local atelier to sell suits internationally
September 21, 2014
(Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 21--Recent University of Mary Washington alums Abbas Haider and Rob Davis are turning their Fredericksburg-based atelier Aspetto Custom Clothiers into an international name in clothing.
Haider and Davis have had a busy time since graduating from UMW two years ago. They opened their first storefront in 2013, then opened a headquarters off U.S. 17 and a shop in Old Town Alexandria.
And, just this month, they've signed a contract with high-end international shopping website Gilt and will soon be selling off-the-rack merchandise around the world.
Online sales will help them get into such sought-after markets as Tokyo and Europe.
Haider, 24, was a serial entrepreneur throughout high school and college. He started his first company, an import/export firm called Ships N Ports, during his senior year of high school in Fairfax. It focused on cotton products from India and Pakistan.
He began working at Men's Wearhouse at age 16 to support his business. The job gave Haider insight into the business of men's formal attire.
Early in his UMW education he started importing suits from China in large fashion markets, but wasn't taken seriously because of his age.
He changed the focus of Aspetto, an Italian word meaning "appearance" or "looks," during his last year of college. He decided to offer customizable suits rather than pre-made ones.
Haider and Davis teamed up in an international marketing class during their senior year. It was there that they hatched the idea for Aspetto's subsidiary, American Armor Attire, which offers ballistic-wear, and fleshed out the potential of Aspetto.
There's not a typical day at Aspetto. Davis has been working on expanding their reach to the Middle East. Last week he was in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates doing fittings.
And Haider might be in their Alexandria location in the morning, before hopping a train to New York for meetings and returning that same evening for an Aspetto function.
"Aspetto is going to be a household name for quality," Haider said.
He and Davis attribute their success to being open-minded and willing to work harder than others in an industry that has remained stagnant for years.
Part of that strategy has been to diversify their company.
Beside high-end menswear, Aspetto offers its own line of ballistic wear. Aspetto bills it as America's first bullet-resistant clothing line.
That branch of the company creates tactical gear for law enforcement personnel, the military and people seeking bullet-resistant clothing.
"There's not really anyone like us in America," Davis said.
The novelty of that branch of Aspetto has garnered media attention from New York Daily News and Yahoo, to name a few.
Despite their expansions, Haider and Davis are keeping Fredericksburg as their home base. There are no other custom clothiers between Richmond and Washington, and there is a local demand for what they provide.
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