Giorgio Cuellar looks at life through rose-colored glasses. Literally. His tinted specs are part of his signature look, completed by his curly hair and most noticeably, his bold, custom-made suits. He dresses in colors that reflect his mood.
“That’s just how I live my life; I go through phases. I’ll listen to an album I like nonstop for a few weeks, then I’ll switch it up to something else,” Giorgio says. “With suits, I went through royal blue, black, red, navy, and I’m going back to black right now.”
Giorgio’s independent mindset drives most of his business and creative decisions. Growing up in Plano, he struggled to fit in with his peers. Instead of trying to conform to their standards, he flaunted his own style in bold clothes of his own design. Meanwhile, during an internship with local musicians, he unknowingly kick-started his fashion career creating custom clothes with spray paint and screenprinting.
Today, Giorgio has graduated to European fabrics, but he still maintains a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He and his business partner, Ronnie Green, founded their menswear company, Giorgio Verdi, in May 2017, and together they’ve built a brand with a global footprint. Their goal is to create one-of-a-kind suits that let the wearers look and feel their best.
“I didn’t fit in for the longest time, but I’ve really transformed that into a strength,” Giorgio says. “I care a lot about my clients, and I put them first. I’m done trying to fit in or impress the general public.”
His appreciation for quality clothing was ingrained in him as a child, as he watched his father care for his own suits that he’d worn for more than 30 years. But it was a mission trip for the Mormon Church that led him to Naples, Italy, in 2011 that would change his life forever. One day, he found himself in an old tailoring shop, talking with the owner, Antonio Rossi, for more than six hours. Giorgio walked out with an invitation to return to learn the suit-making business.
“Maybe it was fate or God’s plan, but finding that tailoring shop changed my life,” Giorgio says.
He returned to Naples in 2013 and began his studies under Antonio, a 30-year veteran in the industry. After strenuous training, Giorgio was ready to start out on his own. He built his business the way a chef would a Michelin star restaurant. He only used the finest ingredients, English or Italian fabrics, and limited offerings. He didn’t want a high-volume of suits going out the door, instead he chose to focus on creating high-end, quality suits.
“Made in Italy means a lot these days. Italy as a country cares about quality and well-made items,” Giorgio says. “Sometimes that means moving at a slower pace to acquire a personal touch.”
His shop in Naples, Italy, is the complete opposite of most stores in the U.S. It’s intimate with a cigar lounge vibe and wood paneling on the walls. It can hold no more than 10 people.
“Italian clients are more hands-on than the ones I have here in the States. Here, guys will let me pick what I think is best for them,” Giorgio says. “In Italy I’ll narrow it down but clients love to look through and feel each fabric. They’re a lot more patient that way, they never get a suit rushed, and it feels more like a love story than a business transaction.”
As the demand for his suits grows, Giorgio continues to stay involved in the creative process, but he’s brought on new employees. Among them is his mentor, Antonio, who was forced to close his shop in 2016, and now works for Giorgio as a jacket maker. “It’s really special to be able to give back and be there for him,” Giorgio says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
“My favorite part is feeling the fabric take form in my hands,” Giorgio says.
Yet, his biggest role now involves maintaining relationships with new clients. When he first started out, he turned to social media to acquire his first clients—newly-drafted Dallas Cowboys players. He flew to Dallas from Italy to measure and make suits for a handful of rookies that year, including Lewis Neal.
“Lewis Neal came in for his fitting during his rookie camp and brought some teammates with him. He was my first NFL player and I was somewhat intimidated. I’m a big guy but they make me look tiny.” Giorgio says. “Now, we both look up to each other: he’s only 23 but he’s playing pro football and he’s a very successful entrepreneur. It feels good to have someone who’s so smart look to me when it comes to his style. I teach him a thing or two about menswear and he teaches me a few things about stocks and foreign exchange.”
From there, his celebrity roster continued to grow. He recently made his third suit for FC Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta, and the midfielder gave Giorgio the creative freedom he’d always craved, which resulted in a vibrant brown and blue windowpane suit. He dressed country music star Russell Dickerson for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, and he recently fitted Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his groomsmen for his September wedding.
Giorgio hopes that the young stars and athletes wearing his suits inspire a new generation to not only look their best but to be comfortable in their own skin.
“Unlike other brands, when we make our suits, we don’t put our name in them,” says Giorgio. “The suit was made for them only, it shouldn’t have anyone else’s name on it.”
While success is sweet for Giorgio, he looks forward every year for the time he’s able to spend in his hometown, and not just so he can fulfill his Whataburger cravings. He hopes to settle down and create a home for both himself and his business in Plano.
“We don’t want to grow too big and lose that handmade, Italian feeling,” Giorgio says. “We hope to create a boutique here locally that encompasses our Italian showroom. Plano has always felt like home.”
For more about Giorgio and his company Giorgio Verdi, click here.