Tessuto brings European shopping to Somerville

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/7/16

Ernst Michel and his sons, Asheley and Jordon, aren’t dressed like many of the men walking just outside their door at 9-11 W. Main St. in the borough.

The trio, who own and manage Tessuto Menswear, a high-end men’s shop that sells fine European clothing and accessories, can usually be spotted in crisp Italian suits, vibrant patterns and fine leather dress shoes.

The store, which has been at its current location for about 3½ years after moving to the larger location from 33 W. Main St. after 10 years, is one of the only local shops that carries such a collection of high-quality European clothing, most of which is Italian and the rest Swedish, German and French.

“It’s hard to find that kind of quality in a small boutique and even in a big department store, where most of the products are made in Asia,” said Ernst Michel, owner and founder of the store, who manages it alongside Asheley, manager, and Jordon, assistant manager.

Ashley, Jordan and Ernst Michel, owners of Tessuto.  Jenna Intersimone/Staff Photo

Ashley, Jordan and Ernst Michel, owners of Tessuto. Jenna Intersimone/Staff Photo

Some of the brands that Tessuto Menswear carries are Palzileri, Eton, Zanella, Italo Ferretti, Stone Rose and Edward Armah. Michel selects what brands he carries based on what he has discovered his clients want and need throughout the years in a mix of varying fashions.

Michel said, “Our look is trendy but classic. You can wear our merchandise five years from now. It’s not flashy — it all blends in together.”

Clients come to Tessuto Menswear from as far as 20 miles, from towns such as Warren, Morristown and Princeton. Michel said that he has two types of clients — the up-and-coming “contractor, whose business is taking off and he wants to start looking the part and the professionals, the doctors and the lawyers.”

European style is vastly different from that in America and, namely, said Michel, is that Americans are afraid of accessories because they are afraid of what their friends will think, whereas Italian men love bracelets, pocket squares and scarves.

However, he said that he has noticed changes coming about as more men invest in stylish clothing after seeing those around them doing so and seeing the higher-end styles in entertainment.

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Often, Michel said that men don’t know where to get these items they’re interested in adding to their wardrobes since large department stores have huge, scattered collections that can be overwhelming to the average shopper. But at Tessuto Menswear, Ernst, Asheley and Jordon can help them from start to finish.

Plus, the store offers a “welcoming feeling,” similar to that found in Europe, said Michel, equipped with soothing music, a lounging area, fresh flowers, wine, coffee and espresso alongside the family-style business, in which people don’t feel as pressured.

“When people walk into the store, they have their guard up,” said Michel. “But then, you show them it’s not about you selling them something, it’s about you helping them put their wardrobe together.

Ed Rebenack, personal injury lawyer with Rebenack, Aronow and Mascolo and Hillsborough local, has been a customer at Tessuto Menswear for the past six years and has purchased business suits, casual wear and rented tuxedos from the store.

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“Ernst takes an interest in making sure that an outfit fits the occasion,” said Rebenack. “The service is great, the clothes are great and when it comes to personal fashion choices, they are the experts.”

Michel said that Tessuto Menswear has become a part of the community — the trio frequently get invited to weddings, bar mitzvahs and other family events.

“We are not just a store. People will not leave,” said Michel with a laugh.

The store has certainly become a staple in the fabric of Somerville, which Tessuto Menswear has seen through the rough stints as well as today’s much more flourishing times.

Michel said that even when he moved to Bridgewater in the ’90s when Somerville was going through a hard time, he knew it had a lot of potential because of its size and position as the county seat. After needing to expand to a twice-as-large Somerville store, it’s clear that his instincts were correct.

Tessuto's owners know their clients and buy their merchandise accordingly.  Jenna Intersimone/Staff Photo

Tessuto’s owners know their clients and buy their merchandise accordingly. Jenna Intersimone/Staff Photo

“People are often amazed that we are here in Somerville. They say, ‘This store should be on Fifth Avenue,’’’ said Michel. “But this is where I want to be. People know when they come in here that we may not be Italian, but we know what we’re doing.”

Michel said that business has been better than it has for the past few years, and he credits that to the work that the borough is doing in bringing people in for shopping as well as eating. Even in events such as the recent Girls’ Night Out, Michel said that women came into his store and say, “My husband would love this place.”

“What we buy is well-made — the quality is there, you can feel the fabric and see the stitching of the shirt,” said Michel. “It’s like buying a car — you could have a Honda or a Mercedes-Benz, but when you get into the Benz, you say, ‘Oh, I get it now.’”

Tessuto Menswear

Where: 9-11 W. Main St., Somerville

Services: Complimentary, round-the-clock tailoring, tuxedo rental, shopping by appointment, emergency service

Contact: tessutomenswear.com, sales@tessutomenswear.com, 908-725-4000

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