Franklin Samuels, pictured above, and his business partner Irv Wright created The Gentleman’s Closet to provide high-quality fashion for men.. (Courtesy photo)

By Tonaé Lee

Baltimore is getting a fresh face on menswear this month! 

The Gentlemen’s Closet is a men’s clothing boutique that was created to cater the modern man who is searching for something unique and trendy. Their mission is to make a positive impact on this planet one shoe-one suit or tuxedo at a time. 

The most important thing is giving back to our community which is the foundation for strong families. We are in the business of creating happy moments and memories while providing outstanding customer service” said Franklin Samuels, the store’s owner. 

Proving a polished and upscale feel to the city, The Gentleman’s Closet is your new go-to for high fashion men’s pieces. 

With their soft opening right around the corner, Irv Wright and Franklin Samuels are putting the finishing touches on their new showroom. I was able to sit down with Samuels and ask a few questions ahead of their opening.

What was the inspiration behind  The Gentleman’s Closet?

Franklin Samuels (FS): The name Gentlemen’s Closet summarizes what every man should have in his closet, but we wanted to add a sense of caring and knowledge along the way. Men collect a lot of things throughout the years in their closets but don’t take the time to see what is inside their closets. I do remember going to my father’s closet when I was a young man and how fascinated I was by seeing my father’s sense of style and how he put clothes together, so I started asking my father if I could wear his clothes.

The inspiration for the business and brand “Liam Michael” was inspired by diverse fashion styles experienced while growing up in Colon, Panama, and the time spent in the Air Force while living overseas. The business is also inspired by a blend of quality, style and comfort for the modern man. We have a huge passion for men’s shoes and received a lot of compliments on the street about our shoes, so I told myself “why not me?” Why not create a business in which I could use my creativity while inspiring the next generation of Afro-Latinos and minorities. We have a culture that is deep in traditions and has a great sense of style. Why not put my vision out there while giving back to our communities?

Why Baltimore?

FS: To be honest, the name of our in-house brand “Liam Michael” is the name of and the concept was “created” originally in Baltimore, so we decided to set some of the original footprints in Baltimore as we feel connected with the people, culture, creativity and what everything Baltimore has to offer.

How will your business change the environment surrounding menswear in the city?

(FS): We see a lot of potential in Baltimore, at least 20% of our customers are coming from the area. We want to be where customers want us to be, and we believe Baltimore is a gem that is getting ready to explode in multiple ways. We want to be part of that change while integrating ourselves with the community, culture, and fashion.

How is The Gentleman’s Closet experience different from other menswear brands?

(FS): We take great pride in attention to details. What is most fascinating about our store, is that we can pretty much change any component of our in-house suits and tuxedos and make it your way in about 20-25 business days. We are moving into a business where customers want to express themselves but the options are limited. We have over 450 tuxedos and suits and it is a beautiful thing when you walk into our store and can pretty much do it your way, it is like walking into a candy store but using the ‘just in time” concept. That is the direction our business is heading and that is what our customers want!

When creating, would you say you aim for more “fashion” or “functionality” in your pieces?

(FS): Fashion comes and goes, but styles last forever. We aim to create happy moments and memories.

What is your favorite piece in the showroom right now?

(FS): Well, I am fascinated with our shoe line (Liam Michael shoes) as we can change the color of any of our purple and black soles to the 16 available patina colors we currently offer. We believe the shoe can make or break the outfit as you can wear a very expensive suit or tuxedo but if the shoe doesn’t complement the outfit, game over. 

If you could see any celebrity in the brand, who would it be and why?

(FS): Great question! I think Maxwell, Teddy Pendergrass or Marvin Gaye would be perfect, their music is powerful and timeless which is a great representation of our brand.

What advice do you have for those who want to elevate their style?

(FS): Find what works for you and be comfortable in your own skin. If you want to change your style, our advice is to visit an establishment on multiple occasions you feel is reputable, watch the staff and see how they interact with their customers. You may have to step out of your comfort zone, but once you get comfortable trying new things, it’ll be easier to start elevating your personal style.

When it comes to menswear, what are your favorite trends right now?

(FS): We are currently playing with a lot of different colors and patterns. We are seeing a huge push with suits that have wide peak lapels along with lapels on the vest. As far are tuxedos, we are pushing a lot of jacquard fabric styles and Liam Michael purple soles.

When is the official opening of your Baltimore showroom?

(FS): We are forecasting Tuesday, December 21, 2021 as our official opening, Baltimore are you ready? We are excited to be part of that great community!

Are you all ready for the new The Gentleman’s Closet showroom? I know I am! Be sure to follow them at Instagram: t_gentlemenscloset, Twitter:  @the_gentscloset, Facebook:  @tgentsclcloset (The Gentlemen’s Closet). The new showroom location is 217 N. Charles St.. Baltimore, Md. 21202. 

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