By Marian Rowley
Menswear entrepreneur Kyle Shiels on fashion entrepreneurship and holiday style.
Across the street from Southern Methodist University, the custom menswear shop Uncommon Man stands out from the rest of the shops on Hillcrest Avenue thanks to its distinctive black façade and the elegant menswear displayed in the front window.
Uncommon Man founder Kyle Shiels specializes in designing classic menswear made from the best European fabrics like French linen and Italian wool. From the signature Railroad overshirt to polos, cashmere drawstring trousers, and suits, he designs nearly everything in the store, and it’s all handcrafted in Italy.
Photos Courtesy of Uncommon Man
But Shiels isn’t just the go-to designer for men who want sophisticated suiting and separates to look sharp for work, job interviews and everyday life. He’s also a businessman who had to make difficult decisions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the success of his business. That’s because his shop was barely a year old when lockdowns began, and his initial focus was custom-fitting business suits.
Marian Rowley: COVID-19 lockdown made everyone forgo their suits and wear loungewear. What effect did this have on Uncommon Man?
Kyle Shiels: Initially the brand was focused on just tailoring, so when COVID happened that essentially shot us in the foot. Before the pandemic, there was always the intention of bringing in casual products. So, what COVID-19 did is that it just fast-tracked our intention to produce knitwear and cashmere. The beauty is that we were able to move like a speedboat rather than a tanker because of the size of Uncommon Man. I am proud that we are still here.
MR: Another effect the pandemic had was that it caused many brands to move to online fittings. Some brands have still kept this option to this day. Was this the case for Uncommon Man?
KS: Yes and no. We have done some virtual fittings, but I like taking it case by case. It ultimately depends on the shape and size of the guy. Also, because of the price point, I usually don’t take personal fittings since there is a level of expectation of quality, construction, and experience. I think in-person fittings offer the best results. At the end of the day, it just comes down to that I want the customer to be happy.
MR: Now that Uncommon Man survived the pandemic, what are the brand’s next steps?
KS: We have plans to expand. Now, we are currently in the middle of working out the next phase of the plan. The hope for me is to open other stores and have them be tight and special. We want to scale and I hope to be in areas that have like-minded brands so, we can pull from those brands’ consumers and shoppers. This industry is such a competitive space and I think that earning other people’s trust is the next avenue.
Find out more about Uncommon Man and shop the fall/winter collections including outerwear, polos, knitwear and trousers at shopuncommonman.com and @shopuncommon.