Her menswear enterprise fits her

Walk into Barakat Bespoke, and it is easy to change into simply as fascinated — nay, enamored — of the showroom as with the lads’s customized clothes purveyed there.

An industrial look is comfortably married to pure glamour right here. A excessive ceiling. Exposed-brick and padded-leather sections of wall. Track lighting whose centerpiece is a bouquet of hanging, single mild bulbs of various lengths. Even the wealthy brown picket entrance door is a customized piece you would not see simply anyplace.

Men’s suiting items and equipment grasp neatly from racks; giant sure books associated to the tailoring craft adorn cabinets. Twin mannequins show swimsuit coats in progress. In the again of the principle room, dark-gray draperies function an accent for a easy gunmetal wall displaying a cluster of black-and-white images. In entrance of the picture wall is a cushty sitting space, full with a compact bar laden with bottles of libations most well-liked by discriminating gents.

All these parts mix to make a becoming background for Jenanne Filat, a fifth-generation tailor specializing in males’s suiting.

“I enjoy meeting new people,” she says. “I enjoy making them look good. And yeah, just being in the store around the clients is motivation enough for me. I love coming here daily.”

Filat’s appointment-only enterprise has drawn athletes, politicians and a few celebrities amongst its clientele — not that she’s going to name-drop or brag.

“I try to be as humble as possible,” she says. “I’m very, very, very thankful for the clientele I have. I’m very thankful for everyone that walks through that door. Whether they are a celebrity, politician, a regular person — everyone will get the same treatment from us. And I think that’s what really sets us apart, honestly, as well. … My client that spends $1,000 will get the same treatment as my client that spends $15,000.”

However, Filat shouldn’t be modest in terms of the products and companies she affords.

“I’ll go head to head with any luxury brand. We by far surpass anyone on the market — and we guarantee it, too.”

Custom suiting is Barakat Bespoke’s specialty. Filat fashions informal fits, dressy fits, tuxedos — “any kind of suiting, any kind of trousers, shirts. The possibilities are endless with us. And if anyone needs anything that is nontraditional, we can help them with that as well.”

Filat additionally supplies the equipment — the shirts, the ties, the hankies, the cuff hyperlinks, even the sun shades, working with what she refers to as “small, artisanal brands.” She’s additionally suited up girls. And she goes even additional, styling a few of her purchasers … particularly the busy ones who want it most.

“It’s just very unique nowadays to find someone that specializes in their craft,” says Derrell Hartwick, president and chief govt officer of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce in addition to a shopper and pal of Filat’s.

“When you go and meet with Jenanne … I mean, she’s your best friend. She’s your custom tailor. She’s everything. And it’s just such a great experience that you go there. Every time is different, because every suit is different, unique. She’s got just the exact style that you want — anything.”

Does he have a favourite Barakat Bespoke swimsuit? “Yeah, my favorite suit is my next suit. … I love them all for different reasons.”

Needless to say, attire bearing the Barakat Bespoke label is not chain-store priced. The common start line of a swimsuit is $995.

But, Filat factors out, “when you come in here, you have to keep an open mind of not to shop price. If you’re shopping price, it’s going to be overwhelming. You have to consider that you’re shopping value.”

And outfitting a purchasers shouldn’t be a fast course of. It takes a minimal of six to eight weeks to current a shopper with a Barakat Bespoke creation.

But that shopper could be assured that, even though her vigorous schedule often includes abroad journey, Filat is hands-on from starting to finish of every order.


Filat got here by all of this truthfully.

She was born in Jacksonville, the one youngster of her mom, Fawziya Barakat and her father, the late tailor Nafez Filat, proprietor of The Stitching Post. Living in North Little Rock most of her life, Filat comes from a “long legacy in the family” of fabric retailers and tailors courting to 1893 Jerusalem.

A photograph of Nafez Filat in Chicago prominently adorns a shelf over twin tie racks within the retailer.

“My father immigrated here from Palestine in 1968,” his daughter says. “He actually went to Chicago first, and he ended up moving to Little Rock in the … early to mid ’70s after visiting his brother here. He liked it, so he ended up moving [his] shop to North Little Rock first, and then he ended up in downtown Little Rock on Seventh Street in the late ’70s.

“So I grew up round, in fact, the tailoring, and I spent a number of time in his retailer, in his house. And I sort of picked up some stuff.”

Filat’s family constantly tried to discourage her from going into the tailoring business.

“Because they immigrated from abroad, they felt they had been pressured to work on this business, mainly,” she says. “They had no different selection. They did not have a number of alternative for schooling … . My father, when he got here, he had lower than $100 with him. He constructed on that, and it was a really, very, very huge wrestle for him. So I imagine that they simply related this [business] with the wrestle.

“When they came here, it was for a better life, and they wanted me to get educated.”

Filat did get her schooling; the 1994 North Little Rock High School graduate went on to review Arabic and Middle Eastern research at Harvard for a 12 months, and in 2010, graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the place she majored in political science and minored in worldwide research. Yet, she was drawn to the household enterprise.

This, she says, “was difficult in the beginning” for her father.”But then he saw what I was doing with everything.” Just earlier than he handed away in March 2019, father and daughter had a speak about her enterprise. “He was very, very proud of the entire operation.”

Filat desires to take the household legacy to the following stage, she says, and the suitings had been a begin.

“My father dropped out of school [during] middle school to do this. He was young when he started; he apprenticed for a long time. So it’s an art. … And I feel that this needs to continue. Of course, I work very, very hard to continue that legacy for him as well. It’s very important. It’s more than just a retail space. It’s more than just suitings. There’s a history here. … This is me.

“There’s not a single piece, or something I do with any design work, that does not … have a narrative,” Filat says. “It all the time includes one thing from my childhood, particularly with our street-wear line. Every single piece of clothes has its personal story. And we wish all people that wears it to proceed their very own story in it.”

According to its website history, the Barakat Bespoke name goes back those five generations, but the current store made its debut in 2014.


The store was actually begun on behalf of her boyfriend at the time, Filat says. “He wanted one thing to do. He was in finance. He had simply misplaced his job … . So we opened this. I branded [it]; I helped with it. I did every thing so he would be capable to have an area, as a result of he stated, ‘I do not need to work for anybody anymore.’

“When we opened it, I was supposed to help somewhat, but I wasn’t supposed to be immersed in it. I was stepping away at that point from some of this stuff.” But precisely every week after the shop’s opening, “he totally up and left without saying anything. So I was stuck here with the store, with all the debt.”

People see the shop now, and her present success, she continues, however they do not know “the struggle that I had to go through — emotionally, mentally — getting everything together. And I was a single mom at the time, too. I turned it around, and I made it happen, but it was not easy at all. And I mean it was very nontraditional, the way I handled the business.”

The enterprise has, or course, advanced a bit through the years, Filat says. Menswear is her space of experience, however the retailer didn’t do as a lot customized clothes in its early days; it began out extra ready-to-wear. But Filat can say that a few of her purchasers date again to the shop’s opening.

“All of my clients have become very close friends of mine as well. They helped sustain the business; they helped me through the tough times.”

The retailer has not executed a lot conventional promoting; within the early days, there have been a number of walk-ins, Filat remembers. She did get on social media, posting day by day. And enterprise has been so good that Filat has switched to taking referral purchasers solely, though her staff take new clients. Other “advertising” for Filat has come by way of her appearances at such occasions as Arab Fashion Week.

Gina Radke, an writer, speaker and enterprise chief, first met Filat in 2018 when she made customized fits for Radke’s husband. A number of years into their friendship, Radke invested in Souq, Filat’s personal luxurious street-wear line, which she launched in 2018.

Radke additionally went on to rent Filat as her stylist. She lauds Filat’s eye for vogue, which is “undeniable.”

“It’s her pure determination to make her way in men’s fashion that I find the most admirable,” Radke provides about Filat, noting that earlier than the most important native galas, “there will be tons of her clients in her store just so she can tie their bow ties for them. Her eye for detail and customer service are unmatched.

“She all the time appears to discover a manner when there isn’t a manner. She believes in serving to others carry themselves up. And she strives to all the time honor her father’s legacy.”


Filat sources the best fabrics to outfit her clients with.

“Everything is all pure that we stock. Sustainable,” she says. She names her favorite company for fabric sourcing — Italy’s Vitale Barberis Canonico, dating to 1663. “They produce a few of the finest materials that I’ve seen.”

Each client is different, so she and her people make it their first priority to talk to their clients — “see what they’re making an attempt to perform, what their objectives are, after which we additionally work with them on that and base it round them.”

Filat notes that her younger clients want something “tremendous tight and tailor-made,” whereas her traditional clients still prefer suitings that are less so. But even among the younger ones, that preference may well be changing somewhat.

“The menswear business … will see a shift often each 10 to 12 years, a significant shift within the fashion, and we’re going by way of that shift proper now,” she says. “The previous 10 to 12 years have been very tight and tailor-made suitings, and now the shift goes to a looser lower. Double-breasted is coming again in. And we’re seeing much more colour on the runways proper now” — muted versions of traditionally bright colors. Another notable trend she mentions: mixing suiting looks with casual and street-wear. (The Little Rock market, however, is more conservative than in, say, Miami or New York, so the suiting-street-wear mix isn’t as strong here, she adds.)

These days, Filat also gives her attention to Souq. The eldest of her two sons, 21-year-old Neemo Hankir, is co-creative director. (Her younger son, Noah Hankir, is a senior at North Little Rock High.) The line has garnered a lot of international attention.

“We have gotten requests for it, and we’re in talks with a few of the greatest shops on the earth,” Filat says. Souq has also made the runways of Arab Fashion Week. “My heritage is essential the place I come from, so … every thing is sourced, created and handmade within the Middle East.”


When not creating wonderfully tailored clothing pieces, what does Filat like to do?

“There’s nothing [else]. That’s all my life,” she says. “Literally, I’m all the time creating; it is what I do. I adore it. I breathe it. It’s my total life. I’m so impressed by structure, by different folks, by art work, and there is nothing that I have a look at that does not convert to one thing, into my design world in my head. … Even when I’m on trip, I’m all the time on the lookout for one thing. I’m all the time looking out to see if there’s something we will incorporate into any of our designs.

“It really does not feel like work, and I’m so thankful that I get to do this on a daily basis.”

Jayce Thompson of Little Rock, a wardrobe specialist who works alongside Filat on the retailer, sees day by day proof of this.

“Jenanne is one of the most knowledgeable people I know, especially when it comes to the world of luxury, style and fashion,” he says. “She will not be outworked, as her tenacious spirit won’t allow her to be.

“Whether it is caring for the folks she loves most, or working by way of the nuances of being a enterprise proprietor, Jenanne goes to go the additional mile to ensure everyone seems to be handled with love and equity. That’s simply who she is at her core.”

Filat’s goals for the future include expanding the Souq brand extensively, as well as expanding Barakat Bespoke into other territories.

“Lots of people are available in they usually’re like, ‘Oh my God, you have to inform your story. You’ve received a captivating story.’ … In the Middle East, they do a number of storytelling, in fact. … Everyone shares their tales and that sort of relationship you may solely create by way of face-to-face expertise. And that is a vital a part of this enterprise.”

At times, she sounds like a motivational speaker, something everyone tells her she should be.

“I do that not for me. I do it for my folks. Honestly, I do it for each Middle Eastern lady that will not assume that she will do it, that has the concern, is instructed that she’s not ready to do that. I do it for each single a type of women. And it may be executed. And I encourage them to exit and simply dwell fearlessly — take an opportunity, fearlessly. That’s the factor. My father was fearless. I do not forget that each day. And he was very encouraging and motivating as nicely.”

    Jenanne Filat of Barakat Bespoke in her River Market retailer on 07/01/2022 for High Profile Cover (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins(

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