I’m in the West Village, on the corner of Perry Street, in a quaint little store with a front window display filled with plaid suits and an eccentric mix of jewels. Walking in instantly felt as if I’ve stepped into an old film noir, a welcoming sense of familiarity and comfort. Dim mood lighting set the tone as I shifted through the clothing racks filled with men’s pinstripe sport jackets, sharp button-down shirts, and vests of all colors and patterns. Old-fashioned cabinets and a display case filled with decadent jewels and home décor line up as the back cash wrap. Later I learn the jewels are sold as Quiles noticed men often bring their girlfriends or wives while shopping. "They need something to do. I have sisters. They used to love bracelets and earrings," he said. The walls, covered with antique frames, American flags, and men’s ties seem to be existent over a century ago. To much of my surprise, QP & Monty's storefront officially started just three years ago.
And so the story began.
Ignacio Quiles is cleaning up around the store; tidying up the display cases, changing the pieces on the mannequin. It’s 8pm, and he is getting ready to close another day at the store. With a top hat, round specs, scruffy beard, sharp plaid three piece suit, button-down shirt, a snazzy tie and clip, and a classic pair of loafers, his sartorial style matches his personality; bold. Quiles knows exactly what he wants. Maybe it’s the fact that he has gained years of expertise in fashion, having been surrounded by clothing all through his life. Growing up in Spanish Harlem with a mother as a seamstress, he learned to sew at a young age. With previous jobs in designing and grading in New York’s Garment District, he ventured into the food industry, but never lost sight of his goal to own a menswear store. For five years, Quiles juggled the life as a restaurant consultant while selling vintage pieces on the weekends when he realized he could make a living out of it. Eventually, he saved up enough money to start and “take a leap of faith.”
The name, QP & Monty, has a meaning close to Quiles’ heart. Q is for his last intial, P is for his lovely girlfriend and the store’s co-owner, Pamela Moore’s first initial. Monty is the name of their adored rescued dog, who, by the way is currently home eating bananas. “We started as QP & Monty, the original concept of the store was to do vintage and everything. This evolved because I had a passion for menswear. I have always had a passion for menswear. As we were moving forward, the menswear market had become more available,” Quiles said. The evolution to the present day West Village haberdashery started off in a flea markets, pop up shops, and a tiny Brooklyn warehouse. Then for a year, he was featured in an unscripted series, “Failure Club”, which aired on Yahoo. The challenge to build a business in a year was accomplished.
There’s something very real to the way Quiles speaks. His feelings are shown on the heart of his blazer's sleeve. It's honest and raw, starting off is the hardest part. Looking back at when he first sourced merchandise, “I bought them from all over the country. When you get into the business, you realize that you have to be very resourceful. You call people, you contact people. And then going out to ask someone and say hi guys, I’m here. How do you do this?”
At the end of the day, the profit is passion. "You have to be creative, you may have to tell your story over and over, but never giving up is key. I don’t care if you’re 90 years old, you can learn from young people. You can learn from older people. Knowledge doesn’t have an age, it is what it is. People get all caught up in this stuff,” said Quiles. And for him, managing QP & Monty is one job he has in addition to styling, wardrobe consulting, designing the apparel line, Sartorial Pairings, restaurant consulting, as well modeling and television appearances. Now I see the spark in his vision; the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle all match together. But somehow, there are no specific amount of pieces in the box and that’s the beauty of it. Bizarre; just like the half vest.
Note QP & Monty is temporarily closed while a new location is in the works. Appointments are available by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone, 917-524-7305.
Photo Credits: By Andre' D. Wagner of abstractElements.com