CULTURE

Well-known designer dives into menswear

When does a noted womenswear designer decide to bring men into the fashion process as well? «There was a need in the Greek market, a void, for Greek menswear with a designer’s touch,» says Makis Tselios. A Greek fashion veteran, the designer has a 30-year history in the business. He observes that in keeping with the majority of European cities – exceptions include places like London, for instance – Greece offers low-end and high-end fashion, but fails to cover the middle ground. Makis Tselios Homme is one brand that could fill some of the gaps. This is possible thanks to a good manufacturing partner. Teaming up with Kikis, a well-organized production unit in northern Greece, Tselios was able to finalize a project that required two years of preparation. «Menswear is a painstaking business, especially in terms of tailoring techniques,» says the designer. «To make it productive, competitive and well-priced, it needs a lot of work and attention.» Already in its second season, Makis Tselios Homme items are sold at its first franchise store in Kolonaki, while other stores are scheduled to follow in Thessaloniki and in the Greater Athens area. The line is also available at various select outlets around the country, while the designer is currently in the middle of discussions to take the menswear project all the way to the US West Coast. There is interest in Los Angeles, for instance. «I know what they want in the United States,» says Tselios. «They want quality, practicality and modernity. Now if you add to all that the element of style, then you have a winner. In the case of Europe, however, and particularly in countries such as France, art often wins over practicality.» And what kind of clients are the Greeks? «Greece follows in the footsteps of Italy, as in classicism with modern touches and, of course, quality,» he says. In this new chapter in fashion, the designer is offering color to his local clientele. The current winter collection, for instance, includes daring combinations – for Greek standards – including brown with electric blue as well as red and black. Overall classic looks with designer twists, the collection covers the entire realm: from daywear through to the evening dress: suits, shirts, jumpers but also underwear, ties and other accessories. All pieces – except the underwear, which carries a made-in-Italy label – are produced in Greece, with quality fabrics coming from Spain and Italy. Besides its range and design – there are currently six tuxedo options at the Kolonaki outlet, for instance – Makis Tselios Homme is also multifaceted in terms of sizes and shapes. Tall men will be happy with the Long collection, while others will be accommodated by the Short-Fat line. According to the designer, so far the developing brand’s most successful department is the Slim Line, featuring in-the-moment, close-to-the-body silhouettes. At the Kolonaki franchise, there is also the possibility of certain sur mesure garments – custom-made pieces are also available from the atelier. Born in Ithaca in 1946, Tselios spent his childhood years in Piraeus. At the age of 25, he met Vassilis Kourkoumellis. The two men went on to form an enduring partnership which rocked the local fashion scene in the late 1970s and ’80s. Their label, Billy Bo, became widely known and sold in Greece and also ventured abroad. Highlights from the house of Billy Bo range from the design of Olympic Airways uniforms in 1980 all the way to a high-brow collaboration with American department store giant Neiman Marcus, also in the 1980s. The good days came to a halt with the untimely death of Kourkoumellis in 1987. Apart from his personal grief, Tselios was obliged to rethink his fashion future. Finally, he chose to rename the house using his own signature. Since then, the designer has enjoyed success with womenswear. Beside his atelier confections, partnerships with local manufacturers have produced successful diffusion lines sold both locally and abroad, with all lines defined by their wearability. With the same principle now being applied to the menswear collections, the designer is confident that apart from offering a good product at a good value, the time is right for men to appreciate it. «In the old days, men used to own one or two suits, in gray or blue; they didn’t welcome a lot of changes in their clothing,» says Tselios. «Nowadays they buy clothes more regularly and they follow trends; they are far more up-to-date. The new generation is very important, not only because they buy things but also because they teach their parents how to dress.»