Jacomo Hakim has lofty ambitions.
“I want to be the Steve Jobs of custom clothes,” he said.
While his brainchild may never be as big as Apple, he’s definitely making some noise in the custom apparel field.
Hakim, 26, is the founder and president of BookATailor, a custom tailoring concept that employs a fleet of Smart cars — a “mobile showroom” that drives around heavily populated urban areas hawking custom suits, sport coats, shirts and overcoats.
Since it was founded in 2012, BookATailor has grown into a $22 million business with a dozen cars in New York alone, as well as others in Beverly Hills, Miami, Washington and Austin, Tex.
The company also has 15 showrooms nationwide with plans to expand to 40 by the end of this year. Nine showrooms are company-owned and the rest are franchised. The business has a 90 percent retention rate, according to Hakim.
“This is the jackpot business,” he said, pointing to his custom-designed car parked outside Bryant Park in Manhattan at lunch time with a half mannequin perched on the roof and fabric boxes pouring out of the hatchback. The car attracts the attention — and iPhone photos — of passersby, some of whom stop to pick up a postcard explaining the concept.
The way it works is that Hakim or one of his sales reps takes 13 measurements of a customer on an iPad, the guy picks out his fabric, lining and all the other desired features, swipes his credit card and four weeks later the suit is delivered.
The suits, which start at $449, are manufactured at the company’s factory in Bangkok. Two shirts retail for $99, four shirts for $179 and a suit and two shirts are $499. “We’re vertically integrated so we can offer these prices,” he said. A suit from super 140s fabrics cost $150 more and the company recently expanded into high-end Loro Piana and Zegna fabrics.
While there are several online custom clothing firms including Indochino, The Knot Standard and Black Lapel, and Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer operates zTailors, a mobile tailoring service, the Smart car concept is new.
Before coming up with this concept, Hakim had no experience in the apparel industry and had been a DJ during college. When his father, a telecom entrepreneur, suggested he find a job, he started working with a factory in Bangkok to manufacture private-label suits for specialty stores. But after orders were late or were not completed correctly, Hakim decided he needed more control. So they purchased a different factory in the same city and started BookATailor from his father’s office in Great Neck, N.Y., he said.
The first few years, he stuck to custom suit making from the showrooms, but eight months ago came up with the smart car idea. “My overhead on this car is $125 a month,” he said.
The franchise model is also becoming popular. He said a franchisee buys a territory and a car and the goal is to bring in sales of $1 million a year, with $250,000 of profit.
Hakim’s most recent addition is women’s wear, which he said is an offering that is very limited in the custom clothing world.
He is also building a custom app similar to Uber, so customers can know where the cars are at any given time and can request a drive-by. He expects that to be live by next month.
Hakim is hoping the momentum continues to build.
“There’s no reason I can’t have thousands of stores,” he said.