When Kevin Reardon joined the staff of Franco’s Fine Clothier in the 1980s, the company was already established as one of the finest menswear retailers in town. Founder Franco Ambrogi opened the first store in 1972 after learning the art of tailoring as a boy in post-war Italy, and the business has since expanded to two locations in the area with dozens of employees. A proudly family-run operation — Reardon is Ambrogi’s son-in-law — Franco’s is still known as one of the best places to find high-end, well-tailored menswear in Richmond. Here’s what Reardon had to say about the shop and obtaining that perfect tuxedo fit.
Bride: Tell us about your background in the menswear industry. How did you get to where you are today?
Kevin Reardon: I have been with Franco’s full-time for 25 years. This is a family business that I joined after a couple of years of working for a local bank. My brother-in-law, Mark Ambrogi, and I assumed the role of owners about three years ago.
Bride: What is your role at Franco’s, and how do you help customers pick out their tuxes?
KR: As a co-owner, I’m specifically responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Lakeside Avenue store, among other duties. Mark and I do the buying for the store, so we’re on the lookout for items we think will appeal to our customers. Specifically, I, along with all our sales associates, help customers pick out what is best for them as far as fit and style options.
Bride: Can you describe your typical customer at Franco’s?
KR: We have a diverse customer base, especially in the last 10 years since we opened the Short Pump store. We have been getting younger customers in the last few years at both stores and are able to satisfy multiple generations. The common denominator is, young or mature man, they want to look put-together, and most importantly, the clothes should fit properly.
Bride: What can customers expect of a fitting with you or someone from Franco’s?
KR: Whatever we sell in our store, the customer can be assured that we are going to properly fit the garment. We pay attention to details that many overlook that can make a real difference in the fit, feel and look of the garment. We have a fully staffed tailor shop that can do the basic operations such as shortening sleeves and hemming bottoms, but also complicated functions such as lowering collars, recutting pants and more things that many stores today cannot or will not perform.
Bride: Do you have any “do’s and don’ts” to share when it comes to shopping for a tuxedo?
KR: I would just say that a customer should take into consideration if they need to stay traditional or if they want to purchase a more [in trend] garment, although tuxedos don’t usually get too “out there.”
Bride: What are some trends in tuxedos and men’s formalwear you’ve noticed lately?
KR: As with suits and sport coats, the trim fit is very much in fashion. We also have done quite a few wedding parties dressed in suits, especially trim-fitting suits that will give the guys in the wedding party an item in their wardrobe that they can use as they start their professional careers.
Bride: What about accessories — what’s popular right now?
KR: Patterned socks, especially ones a little on the wild side, sell very well right now. Bright, bold patterns. Pocket squares continue to be big, and bowties are selling really well. We sell a lot of hats and caps, especially in the fall, and many of those are to the young men. We also have the traditional fedoras and dress hats.
Bride: What are some special considerations men should make when dressing for special occasions in the colder months?
KR: Fall is a great time to take advantage of the fabrics of the season. Put away your regular blazer and sport a nice cashmere blazer, especially for special occasions. Invest in a nice fall jacket with a pair of flannel slacks. By wearing some seasonal clothing, you give your garments a rest, and that in turn will lengthen the life span of the wardrobe.