Sunday, June 13, 2010

Do Homem™ *

[To Mr. João Mineiro. Because behind big companies there are always big collaborators. Those of you who know San Giorgio know exactly what I’m talking about]

In the showroom. That’s where the suggestions for the next Fall/Winter were. And that’s where these pictures could have been taken. But in the almost 2 hours that I was in Diniz & Cruz I didn’t only hear about coats and ties. I also heard about people. And I met them. From the cleaning ladies to the sales agents. From the warehouse guys to the tailors. From the line responsible to the heirs. I don’t know how many hands I shook, how many times I nodded my head or how many times I smiled. I guess it were the enough times needed for suggesting that these pictures were taken, not near the pieces I'll want to wear next Winter, but in the production floor, near those that give life to this collection. That’s Mr. José Manuel Cruz in the picture. Mr. José Manuel Diniz, his namesake, is missing. The two, along with Mr. Fernando Diniz, founded Diniz & Cruz 38 years ago.

None of them suspects and we must recognize that the number won’t impress anyone, but it was 5 years ago that my relationship with this company started. I was going to have my first real job. The training stage was about to begin and I needed a suit. The rite of passage to a suit and tie in the life of a youngman still using a youth card isn’t always easy and, since I couldn’t avoid it, I was determined to live it in the most pleasant way. I praise my patience at the time since I searched all over town for the perfect suit. There was not a retailer where I didn’t enter, asked, tried or simply snooped around. I realized that a small number of brands absorbs the vast majority of the offer and I came to a simple conclusion: the market has more that just one or two interesting brands. I could easily name you half a dozen. But I’m not here to tell you about what I like or simply tolerate. I’m here to tell you what I like the most, of what are my preferences (I suspect that’s the main advantage of writing to myself).

“That suit is ours”. That was the first thing Mr. Cruz told me when I got near. It hadn’t been difficult for me to do this courtesy and I wasn’t surprised that he noticed. Among the 14 suits and coats that I have in my closet, only 2 are not Do Homem. I had been wanting to visit their factory for quite a while now. You see… I’m not an annoying person, but I’m one of those clients that can be a little bit insistent. In Lourenço & Santos, a store near the old Condes Cinema, I once insisted that the buttons of a coat in the Do Homem new collection had been sewed a centimeter above of what this brand had accustomed me to. The sales assistant thought that I was crazy and politely nodded while trying to convince me otherwise. The man was partly right (I do have a certain level of craziness and my mother is the first one to admit it), so I called the Diniz & Cruz factory telling them what had happened and to provide them my feedback. Marx said that the struggle between the classes was the engine of change. I’m a bit more obstinate and think that what makes things change is the feedback that people receive when it comes to their work. I asked them if I could visit the factory and they told me that I could visit a store in Largo da Graça that belonged to them and that would be the ideal place for my questions and to have an extended sample of the brand. The store is San Giorgio. That's where I found Mr. João, to whom I dedicate this post and Mr. Horácio, the fourth person to appear in this article. San Giorgio recently went through some improvement works and reopened 3 weeks ago, with the same Portuguese pavement entering the store, but with a new enchantment. The truth is that the visit cost me more than I expected but we already know that’s the risk we take when we enter such a store.

The Diniz & Cruz Group has two brands, Do Homem and Dalmata. I won’t talk about that second brand because it’s directed for women and all I know about it are some fancy catalogs. But the first brand is my trademark. And I remember Mr. Cruz looking at me with a provocative look and saying “our coats are probably the best coats in the world”. I laughed and replied that he didn’t have to waste time with me because, for good or bad, I had been convinced long ago. I was delighted to visit the factory, to know the “production line”, “cut area”, the “pressing area” or the warehouse and live the normal day of a production unit of that size. I followed the several stages of the creation process, I saw the future collections and discovered beautiful patterns that are never sold in Portugal because, as I was told, nobody buys them here. Those same patterns are exported to some of the most famous stores in Paris, London or some Italian cities. And I was also pleased to know that “my” brand was reopening another store. Lourenço & Santos (remember the store I mentioned above?), where I would religiously stock on knit ties. I haven’t come back yet, but I’m planning to. Now believe what you want. Tell you about my favorite brand, my favorite store or of the old store that reopened is not just free publicity. This blog is too dear to me for that. This post, I assure you, is nothing but a friendly advise.

* Trademark belonging to Diniz & Cruz Group

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