After 21 years in his San Carlos, CA store, Fredy Joudieh used the pandemic’s shelter-in-place mandate as an excuse to remodel. “We added a wine bar and an espresso bar to serve clients while shopping. We built a state-of-the-art music system into the walls and ceiling and play Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall… Although we’ve been officially shut down here in the Bay Area, working only by appointment, customers tell me they feel like they’re shopping in Rome.”
“And true confession: When I first put the speakers outside the store, I was reprimanded by city officials. But then, families walking by with their children would hear the music and start dancing on the sidewalk. People would stop in and thank us, saying ‘We know the kind of person you are by the music you play.’ So that’s been wonderful!”
Joudieh has worked long and hard to nurture his business over the past two decades. “I graduated in 1984 with a certificate from the Milan Fashion Institute as a fashion consultant and color coordinator. This education helped me better assess customers’ height and weight dimensions to easily determine their size without needing a tape measure.”
Immigrating to the States in 1989 from Lebanon, Joudieh worked in luxury retail for 10 years before deciding to go out on his own. He purchased Turturicci’s Clothing store in San Carlos, remodeled it, and began marketing his own brand. His target demographic is middle-aged fashionable men. Tailored clothing represents 20 percent of his mix (at prices from $750 to $2,650), casualwear is almost 50 percent, and fashion denim, trimmed shirts, and footwear account for 30 percent. Key brands include Lubiam tailored suits, d’Avenza coats and jackets, St. Croix casual shirts and knits, Mattarazi Uomo clothing and outdoor wear, Alberto Jeans, Meyer pants, Alberto Ceramica wrinkle-free pants, Michael Toschi shoes, Gimo’s leathers, Stenstroms, and Eton shirts. Last year he launched his own Sarrtori label suits, sports jackets, casual shirts, and outerwear.
According to Joudieh, current top sellers include modern-fit Alberto Jeans, state-of-the-art handmade St. Croix knits (specifically polos and crewnecks), and exclusive made-to-measure bespoke clothing from Lubiam and Matarazzi Uomo. “Clients select their own fabric and details (hand-stitching, buttonholes), and in four weeks receive exclusive custom apparel with their own signature,” says Joudieh.
“We’re now working diligently on our e-commerce platform to give us more options and presence should a second wave of the virus hit us here in the Bay Area,” he confides. “In the meantime, however, we learn to live with this pandemic, I remain optimistic. Our customers and our vendors have been incredibly supportive.”