My favorite chinos and jeans come from the same person: Peter Manning. Frustrated with the options available for men under 5’8”, Peter launched his own clothing company in March 2012, with the daunting goal of making wardrobe staples that fit well on short men. Given how well my Peter Manning chinos and denim fit on me, I’d say he’s definitely doing something right.
Peter was gracious enough to talk with me at length about his company and fascinating back story—how often do you meet a guy who’s gone from winning a Tony to being an award-winning real estate developer, only to then launch his own clothing line?
I found Peter charming and inspiring, with an infectious passion for pursuing big dreams. Read on for more about tackling the challenges of fit, taking sweatpants to the tailor (yeah, seriously), and sage advice from Peter for anyone wanting to start their own business.
Note: This transcript has been edited for length and comprehension. And it’s STILL a mammoth interview.
Aliotsy: Hi, Peter. Thanks for your time, I appreciate you being willing to chat with me for a little bit.
Peter Manning: Oh, no, happy to do it.
Aliotsy: I’ll just start with my first question. You launched Peter Manning in March 2012 and received press from the New York Times and Esquire. How did Spring 2012 go?
Peter Manning: It went unbelievably well, beyond expectations.
You know, our customer base came from all over the country. We just heard from so many people saying, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been waiting literally my entire life for this. Why has no one done this? Thank you for doing this,” you know, and tons of, “When are you going to make jeans? When are you going to make suits? What about this? What about that?”
So that’s been fun, too, trying to sort of listen to the customer and also try to figure things out and listen to the customer and find out what’s working and find out what’s not, and see what I have to adjust. I mean, we’re a young company, and this company is literally all about the customer. That’s all that matters to me, is making the customer happy and feel great.