“We’re not your dad’s suit store.”
That’s how Andrew Parkes describes EPH Apparel, a men’s clothing company he co-founded and operates along with fellow Asper BComm grads Alex Ethans and Maciek Hunek.
For one thing, they don’t have a store – yet. Rather, the boys have made a huge success out of an innovative idea. The notion came to them shortly after graduating in 2008, when all three were hunting for those first five suits every professional man needs. “Nothing fit, or else it was too expensive, or else it looked like something our dads would wear,” laughs Ethans. “There had to be a better solution.”
Parkes had been traveling in Vietnam and saw “tailors on every street” producing high quality suits at a far lower price than he was used to seeing in North America. Upon his return home, he worked with Ethans and Maciek to put their idea into motion. They held their first suit fitting at the Winnipeg Winter Club, and EPH Apparel was born.
“The beauty of EPH is, guys don’t have to try anything on,” explains Ethans. “We take their measurements, walk them through what kind of suit and customized details work best for them, and send the order to our tailors overseas. The suit arrives in about four weeks. It fits perfectly, and it costs less than a suit made to measure here in Winnipeg.”
Most of their customers are young men looking to suit up for a special occasion, but also include a growing number of men who “recognize the importance of style and fit,” says Parkes.
Fittings are often social events, he adds. “A lot of guys are surprised at how fun the process of getting the perfect suit actually is.”
Since 2008, business has expanded to include fittings across the Prairies and Ontario. EPH opened a swank retail location in downtown Winnipeg in spring 2013. But success doesn’t mean the boys have grown too big for their britches. In January 2013, they gave back to the Asper School by sponsoring the Suit Yourself event, a competition that pitted Asper Co-op students against one another to produce the best resume, elevator pitch and job interview. The winners each won a made-to-measure EPH suit and $250 in accessories.
“Our backgrounds and education at the Asper School provided a foundation that we relied on from day one,” says Hunek. “The three of us majored in different business fields, and we continue to draw upon our individual strengths and expertise to achieve success.”