For those of you who don’t already know, if you are in the men’s market, and like to look on fleek, the place for either custom clothes or clothes off the rack is McQueens Custom Tailor Shoes & Accessories. The fabrics are sumptuous; the ties are gorgeous, and the shoes in stock are fantastic. The fact is, you can’t get better quality from anywhere in Houston. But, did you know that McQueens is now devoting about 25% of his shop off Almeda in the Third Ward to women’s clothing and accessories?
McQueens Custom Tailor & Santiago Knits
That’s right, women, you are very lucky, because not only can you pick up some fabulous handbags and jewelry that you won’t see on every other woman, the shoes are simply gorgeous, and the clothing is beautiful. But, this article isn’t just about the fact that you can now head over there and find the most fabulous knitwear from LA designer Julio Santiago that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the city.
We were fortunate to sit down with Julio, and we fell in love with this man! Born and raised in Argentina, his warmth and humor draw you to him, but what stood out is the fact that he does things with yarn that is such a small niche you won’t find it anywhere else.
Julio designs knitwear the old-fashioned way, on a loom. Each piece is done without electricity or scissors, and the pieces can be worn in multiple ways. He designs two collections a year, and each collection will have around 20 – 30 pieces. His five knitters sit in his studio and produce the pieces that then go to the boutiques that carry his lines.
Julio learned how to knit when he was in High School after working for his sister, who was knitting and selling her sweaters. He bought himself a used loom and was fascinated by the mechanical aspect and the yarn became geometric and mathematical to him. But, everything he did came out as shapes, and he didn’t know how to make sleeves or bodies, so he decided to take a class.
When he went in to take a class, he at first was told the class was full, as it was full of women, but he insisted it wasn’t, as he saw empty spots, so the teacher put him in the back, away from the windows and he learned. Julio didn’t finish the class, and then took what he learned and translated that education into four designs.
Julio packed those four creations into a suitcase and took the bus into town and took them to every boutique until he made a sale from one boutique. Julio was 18 years old, and that first season he made $3,000, and then the economy crashed in Argentina.
Julio knew he couldn’t stay where he was, so he bought a plane ticket to the United States for $1,000, gave his mother $1,000 and had $1,000. When he got to the U.S., he didn’t speak a word of English, but he did work and learn the language and spent many years working jobs that didn’t satisfy him and weren’t his life path.
At the age of 40, Julio took stock of his life. He made a list of all the jobs he had held his entire life and next to each position he wrote down how they made him feel. The one positive response was knitting. So, he took that as a sign and bought a loom off eBay and after remembering how to put it back together, he started to knit.
With a lot of hard work and research and material sourcing, Julio made 13 designs and once again packed up a suitcase and traveled up the coast to Vancouver. He wasn’t going to stop visiting boutiques until every last knitwear piece was sold. And, for Julio, this was the beginning of Santiago Knits.
Some amazing things about Santiago Knitwear. First, the business has never been funded by an outside source. Julio and his husband, who he met 11 years ago and married two years ago, are the only investors, and he only recently started to sell out of a showroom, preferring to do all the sales himself.
Julio doesn’t follow the trends, and he feels the pressure of each collection being new and fresh. His price points are on point. He sticks to two collections a year, and he loves to play with textures, but never patterns. You can find jewel tones with the customary black and white in his knitwear, and most of his pieces can be worn in more than one way. And, his pieces are gorgeous.
Not only is Julio adorable, but his designs also are stunning, and we highly suggest you make your way over to McQueens Custom Tailor quick to pick up some of his fabulous knits, we can tell you McQueens Custom Tailor won’t be holding onto his merchandise for long, it’s just that special!