Lilies Clothing Studio: reprint from Screaming Mouth

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

This blog post reprinted from Screaming Mouth of Los Angeles. He writes, and accurately so imo, about a store and its owner, Bruce Liles, whom I’ve known for nearly 25 years. I’ll vouch for all that is written below especially laughing about the Agave jeans and sons, both are my experiences over the past weekend. Do yourself and your wardrobe budget a favor and meet Bruce Liles. Website here.

“For the holiday weekend, I have made my way to my home town of Raleigh, NC for some quality family time, food, and of course, shopping. This is the first visit since I’ve started this blog, so I made my way around the city looking for stores worth mentioning. Without a doubt, at the top of my list was Liles Clothing Studio.

Having been featured in Robb Report and Esquire’s Big Black Book (2008), Liles is one of Raleigh’s few stores for high-end, quality menswear, and upon entry, you will most likely be greeted by the store’s owner, Bruce Liles. Tall, soft-spoken, polite and extremely knowledgeable, Bruce is not only always dressed to impress, he offers great insight into the business of made-to-measure suits, haberdashery and accessories. Always the gracious host, he answered all of my questions and was even nice enough to pose for the below photo.

Located in North Hills Mall, Liles is the source for bespoke suits with a plethora of first class fabric options from Zegna and Italian powerhouse, Kiton, among others. The personal attention you’ll receive is second to none, and the merchandising is great. After noticing the pocket squares stuffed in wine glasses, Bruce told me, “Usually when you see pocket squares, they’re stacked and you can’t see them. I put them in these glasses and my sales went up.” Fantastic. Most of them are silk, so they can appear wrinkled when you take them out, though he added, “We press them in the back when someone wants to buy one.”

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According to Bruce, his customers are actually getting younger. Figuring it was due to viewers of Mad Men, the second Wall Street movie, etc., he countered with the simple fact “they’re coming to me for custom suits because they can’t find the right fit. There are a lot of people here from larger cities and other countries, from Europe mostly, where they are accustomed to slimmer-fitting suits, and can’t find them in the larger retail houses.” He also said many of his clients are tech start-up and entrepreneurs, which are prevalent here in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Bruce says he will start carrying “several new lines within the next year in order to stay fresh. Like a shark, you have to keep moving to keep breathing. The lines need to be fresh so the client doesn’t get bored, or come in thinking, ‘I already own that.’ ”

The old expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind often times in retail, but as a friend of Bruce’s recently told him, the new expression is “It’s always broke.” I’m not sure that could be more true, especially in today’s marketplace. In my opinion, to stay relevant is to keep the client interested, and always wanting more.

Agave denim is one of the denim lines carried, primarily for Liles’ older client. He feels the younger client steers more towards a more fashion-forward denim line, like Diesel, and I couldn’t agree more. The denim market is so saturated, it’s smart not to fight that beast, and funny enough, Agave is my Dad’s denim line of choice. You could Sell your clothes and consider trying out their line, which could be a little extravagant for you. Previously mentioned Grenson (here) and Barker Black (here) are also a part of the line-up at Liles, along with Psycho Bunny, Duchamp, and Lorenzini.

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Clearly this shop has something for everyone, as you will also see on the website. As I walked around taking photos, I actually thought, “This is somewhere I could bring my Dad, and both of us walk out with something.” If you are in the Raleigh area, make sure you stop by to see Bruce. Perhaps even take your Dad along with you.”