|“Texans have independence, and they know how to put themselves together.” –Allen Tucker
photography by Elizabeth Lavin; hair & makeup by Laurie Schakosky/The Campbell Agency
Occupation: Chairman and CEO of Manuel Exclusive
Hometown: Born in Williamson, West Virginia, but raised in Mineral Wells, Texas
Current residence: Plano
Dallas is fashionable because … Texans have independence, and they know how to put themselves together.
Favorite place to shop in Dallas: Neiman Marcus
Why fashion? My mother made my clothes growing up because we were poor. She wanted us to look nice and be somebody someday. She taught me how to dress and that first impressions are important. I had a lot of style as a kid, and I got good at it. I worked at Rich’s [in Atlanta] in college and went into the buyers training program. I had a natural talent for spotting what would sell.
Why Dallas? It’s a nice city that’s accessible and affordable. I’m a Texas boy, and I don’t want to go back to New York again. It’s a tough place to live.
Tell us about Manuel Exclusive: My wife Kelly introduced me to Manuel Cuevas Sr. about a year ago. He has an incredible story. He came across the border of Mexico and brought something to America. In addition to designing cowboy couture for 52 years with a client list that includes Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, the Rolling Stones, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Madonna, and many more, he has given back to America (for making his dreams come true) by making 50 detailed jackets over the course of 16 years to represent each state in the nation.
There is nostalgia with the line, handmade quality with opulence, inspired by American heritage. We have teamed up with Manuel Sr. and Manuel Jr. to make a ready-to-wear line that is wearable on the streets (not just costume) but still maintains high quality and handmade detail. We are giving the public a chance to buy a part of history by incorporating a bit of heritage in every design. The result will be hip, cool, fun pieces that appeal to a wide variety. For example, the button detail from Mick Jagger’s jacket can be seen in several pieces of the fall collection, as well as an updated version of Dwight Yoakam’s jeans, all of which were originally designed by Manuel Sr.
What’s your secret to success? Integrity, honesty, and passion. Take a concept and make it a reality. Go through the ups and downs and believe.
What’s your vision for Dallas fashion and the market? I hope we will be instrumental in helping it change. Bring fashion designers back to Dallas and help people believe they can reach their goals from Dallas. They don’t have to go to New York.