TAILOR MADE MAN
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE: Legendary Louis Copeland tells Alan O'Keeffe about what it takes to keep looking good
HE'S dressed everyone from politicians to movie stars since taking over the century-old family business, so the doyen of men's tailoring, Louis Copeland, has good reason for feeling very pleased indeed.
The dapper Dub was dressed in a striped navy suit when he welcomed the Herald to his Capel Street store. A measuring tape hung around his neck like a priest might wear a stole.
"If you want to be taken seriously, you have to look well," said the 65-year-old grandfather.
He settled into a chair and spoke about what he does to make Irish men look their best.
"Blue is the colour at the moment. And blue is a colour that suits the Irish complexion much better than grey. Grey can make some Irishmen look pasty," he said.
'Louis Copeland and Sons' was recently named 'Menswear Independent Retailer of the Year 2014 for UK and Ireland.'
The accolade comes from global fashion industry publication Drapers.
As the city's best known tailor, he has run his tape measure over many celebrities, broadcasters, pundits, politicians and businessmen down through the decades.
When pressed for names, he remarked: "We made a blazer for President Clinton some years ago. They sent his measurements from The White House. It was bottle green. Wool. We did it ourselves."
Another ultra-cool customer was James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan. Louis was happy to help him look his best when holding his shaken, not stirred, martini.
But the international star who most impresses Mr Copeland's critical eye these days is Mr George Clooney.
"He's always understated. And classic," he said.
Which famous person he would most like to make a suit for? The master tailor replied: "Obama. He's got a great figure."
Louis is head of a dynasty that started in Ireland more than a century ago when his Jewish grandfather arrived from Lithuania to start a new life.
The immigrant tailor married a Catholic girl and plied his trade in Dublin. His son Louis founded the menswear business which was later passed down to Louis and his brother Adrian.
A member of the fourth generation, Louis's son Louis Junior (38), travelled to the Drapers Independent Awards ceremony in London last month.
As well as the family business winning the top overall award, young Louis also picked up the 'Best Store Design' for the UK and Ireland won by their outlet in Dundrum Town Centre where Louis Jnr is in charge.
In awarding Louis Copeland and Sons the supreme accolade, the judges declared: "No one else comes anywhere close."
When it comes to prices of suits and menswear in the six Copeland shops in Ireland, he makes no apology for the prices of top quality garments.
"If you buy cheap, you buy twice," he quipped.
His ready-to-wear suits cost from €300 to €1,000 each while suits of worsted fabric that are made to measure cost between €900 and €1,200 each.
The Louis Copeland label suits are designed by his tailors and the company sources its own fabrics. They are made in workshops and factories in Portugal and Spain.
Top labels sold in the stores include the Italian brands Canali, Brioni and others. He believes the Italians are the best in the world for men's fashions.
"The Italians look after themselves. If you go to Italy you can see the style on the people walking along the streets. They look well all the time," he said.
He is glad to see the return of spenders to his shops in Ireland. The economic crash meant far fewer people could afford top-of-the-range suits and his business suffered a 50pc drop in sales. But they are on their way back up as money begins to circulate.
Pin-stripes suits had really fallen out of favour in the crash because of their association with bankers.
At the moment, men's suit fashions are seeing neater and slightly shorter jackets and narrow trousers as exemplified by Dermot O'Leary on X-Factor. The big clothes manufacturers "all tend to follow each other", he said.
"It goes in 10-year cycles. We're not back to double-breasted yet," he said.
He believes the key to looking good in a suit is picking the right size. There are many different body types and he sees a lot of ill-fitting suits on the streets of the city.
"I believe that if you are well dressed, you will feel good.
"If you want to be taken seriously, you have to look well. In business, a suit can be like a suit of armour. Confidence inspires success," he said.
Louis appears to be a contented patriarch in the family business. As well as Louis Jnr being involved, his daughter Rachel (30) is also in the family business.
Louis's brother Adrian is based at the Pembroke Street branch and Adrian's son Adrian junior is also a member of the business.
The Louis Copeland Tailoring Academy in Strand Street has five or six students.
Louis, who has four grandchildren, said the business has 60 employees. But he still likes to spend his time with customers in the Capel Street store .
"If I wasn't in the rag trade, I'd like to have been a hotel manager. Or maybe a head waiter in a restaurant. Basically, I'm a people person," he said.
And what does he think of the Guinness TV advert with all those men strutting around dressed up to the nines with their flashy accessories?
"It's fantastic," he beamed, "I loved it. It's all good for business."