A Modern Heritage Brand That Combines Elegant Design With a Fun and Playful Attitude & Flair

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A Q&A with Brandon Snower, Le Alfré’s Founder & CEO

Le Alfré (@le.alfre) is changing the old-school ways of men’s luxury clothing while still embracing its traditions. Call it old-school meets new-school: from their styles, to their craftsmanship, to their sustainability, lifestyle and swagger, they are creating “A Modern Heritage” for today’s generation, built by people cut from the same cloth.

Hi Brandon, tell us a little about your background.

When I was thinking about my career, I did what most guys did – or what most guys wanted to do after college – finance. Growing up as a kid, you see the movies, you see the glitz, glamor, and prestige about “being a businessman”, and I wanted that. And not only was it finance, it was finance in New York, the mecca of money.

I landed a job on Wall Street working as an investment banking analyst and immediately hit the ground running. No 9-5. It was more like 9 to whenever they tell you to stop (which felt like never). There I was helping to advise some of the world’s largest companies ($100+ billion) on their financial assets and valuations. It was finance non-stop.

What first got you interested in menswear and what inspired you to start Le Alfré?

From afar and subconsciously, I’ve always been surrounded by menswear, design & clothing. Ever since I was a kid my mom would always dress me well. To her, a man should always be “elegant”. Whether that’s through the colors, patterns, or fit, my clothes were always simple and elegant, but with a fun and stylish flair. Not too stuffy or not too dull. It was a balance that made it different. It was instilled in me at a very young age that you should always look presentable and dress for the occasion. A first impression is important, and it starts with what you’re wearing. So if you dress well, people will view you in high regard.

I started the idea of Le Alfré two years ago when I was 23 years old. As a young adult living in New York I was surrounded by so many brands that I never knew existed. So many different styles, vibes, and communities. It was everywhere. But after living in New York for a year none really suited my style and taste of a less formal wear that also happened to be really cool, modern and fun. I wanted something that combined the traditions and elegance of high quality European craftsmanship with a playful attitude. I was still seeing the same clothes from the same classic menswear brands that I grew up with as a kid. The same basic color Oxford Button-Down Shirts, the same basic khaki pants, the same basic t-shirts, etc.

It felt too old-fashioned and out of touch. Too commercial and too standard. So I decided to take a stab at it and do it in a way I thought menswear should be.

What’s the philosophy behind the brand and the products?

Our philosophy behind Le Alfré is to create a new vibe and aesthetic in the realm of traditional menswear. We are a modern heritage brand that combines elegant design with a fun and playful attitude and flair. It is important to us that we always incorporate culture in every aspect of our brand and let this be the foundation where we can build a community that resonates with it.

We want to build a community and culture that extends beyond fashion, and in order to do that you have to actually go out there and do it – whether that’s partnering with other brands, people, companies that meet the same vibe and aesthetic we are creating.

How do you approach design at Le Alfré and where do you find inspiration for new products?

Our approach to design is very casual. While traditional menswear brands have historically been very formal, we operate differently. Our products aren’t designed with the intention that you’ll wear them at your 9am business meeting like a lot of other traditional menswear brands. We create and design in a way so that you can wear something to the bars with your friends while still being the best dressed. Our garments are made for a certain fun and classy lifestyle. Hinge dates (or a real date lol), drinking coronas on the beach, hitting Mykonos with your college buddies.

Our fabrics, design and style should be a lifestyle rather than something you wear because you have to for your job. We always ask, “How can we take something that guys wear on a regular basis and innovate it enough (through fabrics, colors, patterns and design) where it’s fun, casual and cool while still being elegant enough to wear at a Michelin star restaurant.” The term “playful elegance” is what we describe our approach to design and our approach to our brand. Incorporating culture of what we as men enjoy and think is cool into our company.

Our inspiration for new products comes through what we enjoy and have enjoyed as being regular dudes living life. Whether that’s through movies, tv shows, sports, music, alcohol, current events, slang and lingo, or just our experiences being guys living in this world. We take all of it and incorporate it to our brand because that’s what we like as men. Again, it’s so casual because it’s already a part of our lives. It’s the basic stuff that people overlook or say, “that’s not fashion, how can you include that?”

To us it’s more than fashion. It’s a vibe and culture.

You’re a relatively new brand: how has Le Alfré evolved over time and how do you see it in the future?

I think we’re evolving by having more opportunities to try different things and really innovate in a way that traditional menswear has lacked for a very long time. Whether that’s through new collections and products, our collaborations, people we work with, or opportunities that arise, we believe that we will continue to become a cultural presence that extends beyond clothing. Something that brings a new identity and aesthetic to classic menswear. We want to see our brand leading the way as the new standard for traditional menswear that’s fun and cool.

What have been the biggest challenges that you had to face during Le Alfré’s entrepreneurial journey?

The biggest challenge is just not knowing what you don’t know while doing it on your own. I know it might seem obvious, but after I left investment banking and started the company I didn’t even know where to begin. Schools or big corporations don’t teach you how to start a company, and since this was my first time, I had to just figure it out. From the actual technical aspects of clothing design like creating the pattern, to the supply chain and manufacturing aspects of finding suppliers to create the clothes, to the operational components of building a website and marketing, to the legal structure of incorporating the company and filing trademarks, etc.

Anything you possibly imagine, I googled it. “What is a supplier?” “What is the middle on a shirt where the buttons are called?” “What software do I use?” “Where are clothes made?”. It wasn’t clear what I should be doing, but you learn along the way by trying and failing. From that comes a bigger challenge internally of, “Can I actually do this?” You start to doubt yourself and your abilities because you are making mistakes everyday. That’s something that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about or realize how difficult it is to persevere and tell yourself, “Hey I got this” when at the time it’s far from it haha.

Where does Le Alfré manufacture its products and what is the relationship between you and the brand’s suppliers?

All of our products are made in Europe. The fabrics, buttons, labels, and our factories are all located in Portugal. Portugal is an amazing place where their textiles are not only some of the best in the world, but also their attention to detail, craftsmanship, and care for what they make is as well. That’s something that is and will always be extremely important to us. Our fabric mill produces some of Europe’s best shirting fabrics and our shirtmaker is the oldest in Portugal, producing the finest men’s shirts since 1946.

Our relationships with our suppliers and manufacturers are outstanding and I am really proud of that. It’s something that I deeply care about. The way I interact with my suppliers and manufacturers is how I would anyone else. Like a friend. And I think they like that breath of fresh air since they’re always working with bigger and “more corporate” companies that might have a very traditional approach to business. I’m 25 years old. I’m a very casual and fun guy so that’s how I interact with them. I have their numbers. I can text or call them whenever, but I’m very respectful of their time and they appreciate that. I let them be a part of the process.

A few weeks ago I told Carlos – the owner’s son at our shirt factory – we need a new shirt. I remember him saying that he’s always been interested in designing so I asked him to design a style for me. I doubt any other company would let him do that. But why not. It’s fun and it would be cool to see what he comes up with! That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not one-sided. And it will never be. And I think that’s why we’re able to work with some of the best in the world because our approach and relationship with them are very different.

How much do you think sustainability is important in today’s fashion industry and how does it fit with your vision?

We are fully conscious and committed to building a sustainable and socially responsible world. As we mentioned before, we are a community and culture that wants to set an example of elegance. And elegance is more than simply the clothes that you wear, it’s the way you live your life and how you conduct yourself as well as interact and treat others around you.

For this reason, we actively find ways to promote sustainable thinking and actions. Whether that’s limiting the number of steps involved in our production process to reduce carbon footprint. Whether that’s working with suppliers and factories that pay their employees fair wages, have clean and safe working environments, and work the standard 40 hours a week. Whether that’s reusing leftover fabrics to make a new product so that it is not thrown away. Whether that’s treating everyone we interact with with respect and attention. Whether it’s partnering with a charity platform that donates a portion of our revenue to a charity of your choice. Whether it’s following responsible marketing practices via providing accurate information about our products, suppliers, and partners.

To us, it’s not just about creating clothes that use “Oeko-tex certified fabrics” (which we do by the way), it’s the entire approach of sustainability.

What public figure (recording artist, film star…), past or present, do you feel best represents the overall style of the brand?

Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hardy, Robert De Niro and Leo DiCaprio.

Name the best movie to go with your brand.

Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Leave us with a motto that the company will always believe in.

“A modern heritage of good vibes and playful elegance.”

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