Mel Styles on Monday announced the grand opening of its first physical studio this weekend.
Owner and founder Archie Sudue on Saturday is opening the first Black-owned men’s fashion store in downtown Grand Rapids, at 315 S. Division Ave.
“My goal is to bring elegance and affordable suits to downtown Grand Rapids,” Sudue said. “One of the biggest things is to be able to have a diverse environment where everybody feels free to shop. Instead of renting a suit, here you can own a suit for a similar price.”
Mel Styles originally was slated to open in July, but the COVID-19 crisis forced Sudue to go into “survival mode” after his usually reliable customer base was lost with continuous prom and wedding cancellations.
Sudue said he quickly pivoted to making and selling face masks and selling them out in bundles to the local NAACP and other organizations in Grand Rapids.
The public open house for Mel Styles runs from 3-7 p.m. Saturday. Regular business hours will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sundays by appointment only.
Sudue is a graduate of SpringGR’s fall 2017 class, where he was among the three pitch night winners. He also was a winner at a Start Garden pitch night. Initially an engineering student, he chose to pursue his passion for fashion. This took him to managing the men’s clothing department at Macys and Men’s Warehouse.
“With Archie, he’s extremely skilled,” said Attah Obande, director of dream fulfillment at SpringGR. “He’s obviously got eyes for fashion and is a skilled tailor, but turning those skills into a business is what I believe we helped him with.”
SpringGR is a nonprofit organization helping aspiring entrepreneurs and startups succeed in the business world through a 12-week foundational training program.
“I think the most notable thing to me is having a Black-owned suit store in downtown Grand Rapids,” Obande said. “He’s the only one, and one of the things I think he’s been able to do well — which is part of his success coming out of SpringGR — is he’s really connected with the business ecosystem at large … because of that, I think he’s built some really strong support in opening his store.”
Following his graduation from SpringGR, Sudue has been part of fashion shows all over the country, including in Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York.