What’s your backstory?
I started tailoring by the time I was 14 years old. A family friend was supposed to introduce me to a tailor but never did. Naturally, I got impatient and decided to walk there and introduce myself to this “tailor” (I didn’t even know what a tailor was). My stomach was turning and my palms were sweating the whole time I was walking over, which ended up being 1.6 miles. Once I got to his shop, I simply greeted the tailor and said, “Hello, my name is Oscar Torres. I am 14 years old and I know nothing about tailoring but I would love for you to teach me.” He stared at me and replied, “Listen son, you won’t be a millionaire working in this trade, but you won’t die hungry. If that’s enough for you, I’ll take you in, if not, then that’s cool too.” The level of honesty he had towards me and my future sparked an eagerness and desire I’ll never forget. I agreed to his terms and I started the following day.
By the time I had graduated high school I had been his apprentice for three years, so with that experience under my belt getting a job was pretty easy. I worked for a clothier for a short while, 11 months to be exact, but unfortunately it was very sales-y and not really what I thought it would be and in short was just a true let down. I left and went back into tailoring for another year or so for a bespoke tailor. He polished what I had already learned with the first tailor and taught me some other tricks. I was eventually laid off which really put me in the dumps.
Fortunately, my tax returns came a little while after and I was able to use the funds to make my business cards and buy my first industrial sewing machine which I actually had to build myself. I walked through an outlet mall by my house and handed out my cards to every store that sold suits or other menswear but getting my foot in the door was harder than anticipated. They all said no except J. Crew and Hugo Boss, but the manager at Hugo agreed to hold my cards and let me do some alterations for him. After that leap of faith from Hugo Boss, Los Torres Tailors finally started to gain some traction and my business was born.
What made you decide to choose this career path?
As a kid, I was obsessed with Legos. They were by far my favorite toys growing up. They sparked a level of creativity that reading never did for me. Haha. As I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be able to take nothing and make something. I liked being able to take certain pieces and build either a car, or a house, or a plane.
As soon as I started tailoring, I knew it was for me because it had not only a certain level of creativity, but also contained elements of discipline. You can only alter clothing so much before you end up pulling the fabric too much or distorting the drape and shape of the garment. That sort of discipline was something I really needed, and the tailors that trained me needed a lot of patience helping me get there.
Once I got into bespoke, my eyes opened up entirely. Not only was I fixing finished garments, I was creating them! The ability to draft patterns, select cloth, imagine how the cloth would drape and what garment to make… literally the whole process was – and is- a dream come true to me. I simply love tailoring. I love it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t really have any “funny” stories, but there is a story that sticks out. There was a suit that I was fixing for a client and the cloth was super dry. So when I was stretching the bottom to do the hems, the fabric ripped! I ended up having to go back to the store my client bought it from and buy the same suit to replace the pants. I ended up breaking even but it definitely sucked.
What do you think makes your company/personal brand stand out?
Just like most tailor houses, we have our own house style and our own experience. We also cater to the wants and desires of our clientele instead of the needs. Our style is an updated elegance. We love suiting and classic menswear so of course we do offer that “look”, but nowadays not many people have to wear suits to work, especially during this pandemic.
Therefore we offer casual clothing like chinos, denim, casual shirts, sport jackets, etc and updated the style for everyday people who want to wear elegant clothing. We cut our garments with a fuller chest, longer coat, pants with a wider thigh, higher rise, and a narrow bottom. Our company might cater to the finer clothing but we try our best to make sure there’s at least some aspect of it that can appeal to anyone who has an interest in tailoring.
What’s a quote that you live by?
The one that sticks out in my head at the moment is “Humility has nothing to do with weakness and everything to do with strength.” This quote is really just one that I made up but it was inspired by a gentleman that I studied a lot by the name of Jordan B. Peterson. The topic of humility and leadership are very important to me and I could write essays all day long about it. At the end of the day it takes a bigger man to admit his shortcomings than one who does everything in his power to hide them.