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A Men’s Label, Born on Instagram

By Valeriya Safronova

Aleks Musika, left, and Davidson Petit-Frère, founders of Musika Frère, in New York.
 
Sasha Arutyunova
Aleks Musika, left, and Davidson Petit-Frère, founders of Musika Frère, in New York.

Two men — one in Miami, the other in New York, both passionate about suits — stumble upon each other on Instagram. They feel a connection. Mutual respect on social media turns into real-life camaraderie. They meet, they click, they draw up a plan.

A business is born.

That is the origin story of Musika Frère, a label that specialises in custom suits that often come in unusual colours or patterns, and has drawn a clientele that includes Jay Z, Michael B. Jordan, Stephen Curry, Kevin Hart and even Beyoncé.

Its founders, Aleks Musika, 32, and Davidson Petit-Frère, 27, are somewhat famous in their own right: Petit-Frère has over 200,000 followers on Instagram, and Musika more than 178,000.

Sasha ArutyunovaClothing at the Musika Frère store in New York.
Clothing at the Musika Frère store in New York.

“Guys in suits and guys taking pictures of themselves really didn’t happen back then,” Musika said of the period when he and Petit-Frère first started their pages, about five years ago.

Petit-Frère said: “We had a following. We just didn’t have a product.”

The brand they eventually came up with, at a Miami public library in 2013, reflects their particularities and interests. “We take inspiration from the ‘20s, ‘30s, and remix it,” Petit-Frère said. “We call it neoclassical tailoring.”

They obsess over details. “We change our stuff all the time,” Musika said. “To us, a quarter of an inch is like a mile.”

“It came down to a buttonhole with one factory,” he added. “The suits were good, but they wouldn’t do this one buttonhole that we needed. They said it takes too much time. So we left.”

Petit-Frère added, “It’s a small detail, but it’s also a big detail.”

Neither designer comes from a traditional fashion background. Petit-Frère, a native New Yorker, began working in real estate at 18.

“I was wearing polo shirts and pants and square shoes to the office,” he said. “I realised I wasn’t a sharp dresser.” One of his co-workers referred him to his tailor, Badger & Welsh Bespoke, in Manhattan. “As I made more money, I started to buy more suits,” he said, “and I realised my business was getting a big boost from that.”

Petit-Frère sent friends to Badger & Welsh, and he was eventually offered a line of his own, P. Frère, under the company’s umbrella. “In the beginning, I was more of an apprentice,” he said. “I learned about measuring, tailoring, the construction of suits. I learned the lingo and the history.”

Sasha ArutyunovaClothing at the Musika Frère store in New York.
Clothing at the Musika Frère store in New York.

As a boy in Philadelphia, Musika noticed that his father, a teacher, commanded respect by dressing up daily. “From the janitor to the principal, they all addressed him a certain way,” he said. Like his father, Musika became a teacher, but he worked in retail to make extra money to afford the clothes he wanted. His career path took him from a job at an AllSaints store in Miami to the Tom Ford Made to Measure programme.

“My mom used to give me my oldest brother’s clothes to wear,” he said. “Being scarred at a young age from wearing his clothes forced me to be obsessed with fashion.”

Musika and Petit-Frère have no intention of stopping at suits. “We want to do a whole lifestyle brand, à la Ralph Lauren,” Musika said.