Today, I’m going to take a quick break from Fashion Week coverage to post an interview with Alan Au of Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8″ and Under. Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8″ and Under is a clothing store in Los Angeles that specializes in designing and tailoring clothes for shorter men. Jimmy Au’s has outfitted celebrities like Mark Wahlberg and Al Pacino. Last week, I had a chance to interview Alan Au who is designer & store owner Jimmy Au’s son. Alan Au currently acts as client relations manager for Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8″ and Under. The interview features everything from a glimpse into Alan’s typical day, to a description of the Jimmy Au store, to a funny first time customer anecdote. Check out the interview below!
DLP (de la Pen): As client relations manager, give de la Pen Pennies a glimpse of what you do at Jimmy Au’s and what a typical business day for you is like?
AA (Alan Au): A typical day includes checking my email in the morning before I even leave for the store/office because some of our business communication is done on East Coast time. Once at work, I check the news in all categories (tv, film, music, stage, politics, sports, etc.) to see what’s going on and if any short men are involved. I then check for any wardrobe work we have with current television shows we provide clothing on. I spend my day prepping future events, following up on clothing production, writing for our monthly newsletter, updating our website, communicating with customers and doing interviews such as yours. If the store gets busy enough that my manager needs me to get on the floor and sell, I then put everything down and help out on the floor. It seems no two days are alike and every week is different. There is always a new surprise every day.
DLP: Tell me about the suits and clothing found in Jimmy Au’s? Where does it come from?
AA: The Jimmy Au collection includes both tailored clothing and sportswear. The collection is a combination of clothing designed by Jimmy Au specifically for shorter men and items we have sought out to have made in short sizes where only regular sizes are available to consumers. For example, premium casual jackets from Kroon are found in some of the finest shops across the U.S. including all Nordstroms in regular sizes; we are the only store in the nation to have them manufacture their jackets in a short size.
The entire collection is dedicated to men 5’8″ or shorter; as is the store. In the case of suits and sportcoats, we have two size scales for men. Clients will find short sizes for men 5’5″ to 5’8″ and extra short sizes for men under 5’5″. Sizes start from a 34 chest all the way up to a 50 chest. The coats are trimmer and designed with a shorter proportion already in mind. Our dress shirts are also designed trimmer and more proportioned for shorter men with the option of 31″, 32″ and 33″ sleeves. Neck sizes start at a 14 and reach up to a 19 neck. Dress pants come in both short and extra short rises for comfort and proportion from a 28 waist to a 46 waist. All of our neckties are narrower widths with shorter lengths.
Our sportswear collection is very unique in breadth and depth. While most regular sizes begin at a medium, we begin our short sizes at an extra small. A typical double extra large is designed for someone 6’1″ or taller. Our double extra large is proportioned for a man at 5’8″. Our sportswear collection is also specifically designed and developed for shorter men. Our collection includes leather jackets in both casual and dress styles, cotton jackets, short rise premium denim jeans and casual pants, evening and daytime sport shirts, casual shirts like polos and camp shirts, short rise shorts and sweaters.
Lastly we offer dress and casual shoes in smaller sizes. Our collection starts at a size 8 and goes all the way down to a size 5. The shoes we carry are not stocked in those sizes elsewhere so that’s why we carry them. Our clothing is made all over the world from Europe to South America to Asia and to Canada. We seek out the finest fabrics including 2ply Egyptian cottons, Supima cottons, cashmeres, Italian wools from mills like Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Reda, Barberis, Trabaldo Togna and many others. We carry many of the same fabrics you will find at Prada, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, DKNY and Sean John.
The collection is designed and fabric chosen with a shorter man in mind. Both details and fabric patterns are often vertical with proportion being the key. A pattern that may look great on a 5’10” man may look ridiculously large on a smaller or shorter man. We choose are details and fabrics carefully to enhance and increase a man’s height; not make him look shorter or smaller.
DLP: Who designs/tailors the clothing found at Jimmy Au? (If this was answered in question #2 you can skip)
AA: Jimmy Au designs most of the clothing in the store and also develops short sizes with desirable manufacturers willing to make our sizes. There are times when we may find a particular item that looks like it would translate well for a shorter man even though the regular size won’t work. We work with manufacturers to try to make a short size version of that item.
DLP: What are some of the latest Hollywood trends that the Jimmy Au customer (i.e., a shorter man) can wear and still look good in?
AA: Many of the current trends favor shorter men. Right now cropped jackets are still popular and trim and fitted clothing are all over the place. Skinny lapels are great as are low rise jeans and pants. Shirts are very trim and are great on shorter men. As are skinny ties. As the trend reverts back to looser and baggier looks, shorter and smaller men will have fewer options and will need a place like ours very soon. Small checks and plaids are acceptable, but shorter men should avoid large plaids that are starting to become popular. Another trend making a showing are larger lapels, don’t do that.
DLP: What are some of the items that every Jimmy Au customer (i.e., a shorter man) should own?
AA: A basic Jimmy Au wardrobe includes a black or charcoal suit, a navy pinstripe, a brown or olive suit, a blue blazer and a multicolored sportcoat. He should own a pair of flat front pants in grey, black, taupe (or tan) and navy blue. He should have a couple of white (or ecru) dress shirts, blue dress shirt, lavender dress shirt, and pink dress shirt. Assorted ties to go with his suits and sportcoats. He should own three pairs of jeans; something in a blue, black or charcoal and a brown or tan. He should have several pairs of chinos including khaki, beige (stone), black and navy. He should have a casual jacket in cotton or leather or both. He should have several sport shirts; one dressy for evening, one dressy for day, one casual for evening and one casual for day. short sleeve shirts should include a polo and a camp shirt. A pair of basic short rise walk shorts in khaki or beige and black or navy. His socks should match his pants, so pick accordingly.
Basically a man’s wardrobe needs to have masculine colors like black (or charcoal), navy (or olive), brown (or taupe) and tan (or beige). Accent colors represent choices in personality and lifestyle. Use sparingly for maximum effect. Combinations that are too loud on a shorter man makes one look like a clown. Accents are to be appreciated up close, not to be made fun of from afar.
DLP: I imagine that some men come into Jimmy Au’s embarrassed about their height/size. Can you tell me a funny anecdote about this?
AA: Some local men have taken months walking by the store checking out our window displays and reading the bold letters “For Men 5’8″ and Under” before finally coming in. Men need to accept their height in order to dress taller. Because one wants to look like he belongs in a 40 regular doesn’t mean he should wear it. To look taller a 40 short may be the better option. Men feed their egos in an endless cycle of futility when it comes to buying clothes. Wear the fit, not the size. If a 40 short fits, then by its very proportion you will look taller.
There was once a man who was walking by the store and noticed the words in the window. Not sure if he had read it right, stopped and backed up to read it again. He leaned his head further back to read our store signage mentioning the same thing. Compelled to walk in, he did and asked me “Is Jimmy Au a real person?” I said yes, and pointed to my dad and said “There he is.” He proceeded to walk up to him and said “Finally, a place for me! Where have you been?” and gave him a huge hug. We all laughed afterwards.
Responses from new customers tend to be enthusiastic and happy, if not urgent. Being the only store of our kind left will do that to you. Often times, spouses are even more excited. Especially after seeing their husbands in some new clothes after just the first reveal out of the dressing room. Wives are just giddy with delight seeing their husbands transformed having watched their husbands wearing ill-fitting clothes all of their lives.
DLP: Tell me about Jimmy Au’s (the store) such as how it is set-up?
AA: Our store is a treat to the eyes before you even walk in. When walking by the store, there’s something unusual and comforting about the window displays. Often not caught at first, if at all; some passersby notice the mannequins are not your typical 6’0″ models. Our clothes would never fit on such things. Our mannequins are custom molded and stand only 5’8″. A shorter man can practically see eye to eye with it. An unusual yet satisfying experience
Once in the store, you are welcomed with a retail space scaled down to a comfortable level; from the height of the ceilings to the height of the displays and racks to the height of the seats in the sitting area. Often times, upper racks are too tall. We lower our lower and upper racks for it to be within reach. Free standing racks are at comfortable levels as are our shelves.
Equipped with a dual satellite dish, you’ll never miss a game because of shopping as each flat screen can be on separate channels. While the ladies wait, we also have the women’s channel package with entertainment about fashion, beauty and travel. And for the kids starting to get fidgety, we also carry the entire kids channel package to keep them engaged, too. We do our best to make family shopping easier. Sometimes its hard to get out by yourself.
Often fitting areas are hidden in a corner, our fitting area is front and center. A featured space for men to come out and show off how great they look to all the wives possibly present.
DLP: Overall, what do you want de la Pen Pennies to know about Jimmy Au?
AA: Jimmy Au, my dad, is dedicated to designing and developing a range of fine clothing for shorter men for the work week and for the weekend in both traditional and contemporary styles whether you are rangy or robust. We at Jimmy Au’s are dedicated to providing the best customer service that rival the best Beverly Hills has to offer. No staff in the world will understand your sensitivity and needs like we will. If you want to know what its like to shop with possibilities you need to come in and give us a try. Experience what its like to shop where every item is available in your size and you actually have to choose between items you like instead of settling for whatever you might find in a department store because nothing else fits.
And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.
Check Out Jimmy Au’s Website Here: www.JimmyAus.com