In 1969, Gus Zistas’ passion to become a tailor was ignited by an argument with his mother over a shirt. She had purchased cloth and gave it to a friend. When the shirt came back, Gus wasn’t pleased with the work, and asked his mother to take it back to be fixed. She refused, and he decided right then that he would become the go-to tailor in the area – the best there was. He started training with his aunt, who was a second-generation seamstress, and then with the best master tailor in the area, who told him, “This is not a good trade.”
When Gus asked why, the tailor responded, “If you make even a little mistake, everyone can see it.” And that’s what appealed to Gus – the quest for perfection, and the passion for creating custom fashion that makes customers look and feel their best.
He learned how to design patterns and construct garments. Over time, his skills developed and with them, his reputation for garment making. In no time, his work became sought after, and he began making custom clothes for local officials and dignitaries.
Armed with an expert knowledge of tailoring, Gus and his wife, Margarita, emigrated from Greece to the United States in 1992. For two years, he worked at an upholstery shop, until he had saved enough money to open his own store, the original Brothers Tailors in North Phoenix, now celebrating 25 years.
Getting Down to Business
Gus’ vision was to one day be the destination for custom clothes, but he knew it would take time. In Europe, there was a market for custom-made clothing. In Arizona, that demand would need to be built. Gus and Margarita opened a men’s clothing store in North Phoenix, where they sold ready-to-wear suits that they would fit for their clients. Over the years, the ready-to-wear and alteration business grew, and with it, Brother Tailors’ client list developed. As they continued to educate and outfit their customers, Brothers Tailors evolved into the bespoke tailoring and custom clothing destination for the Valley’s best dressed men.
Today, Gus runs the store with his son Peter, who has worked in the shop for nearly 10 years. “We’re constantly evolving and growing to bring the business up to today’s standards, looking through the windshield rather than the rear view,” says Peter.
Gus is a certified Savile Row Master Tailor and has represented the United States at the World Federation of Master Tailors. Peter is certified as a master clothier through the Custom Tailors and Designers Association, the oldest continuously run trade organization in the United States. While Gus offers his 50 years of experience in tailoring, Peter offers new ideas on trends and fashion.
“Tailors are like fishermen. They won’t tell you their secrets,” explains Peter. “But I’ve learned from a master tailor, and we combine my contemporary ideas with his experience and ‘old world’ tailoring techniques to make our discerning customers feel comfortable while looking impeccable.”
Together, Gus and Peter strive to the offer the best possible experience and clothing for their customers, predicated around Gus’s technical knowledge and skill. Gus personally trains each tailor at Brothers Tailors, and every garment that leaves the store has his genius in its DNA.
Looking to the Future
Even with 25 years under its belt, Brothers Tailors continues to evolve in order to deliver on the promise to create custom clothing that meets the highest standards and the personal, exacting needs of each individual client. With today’s individualized culture, there has been a renewed desire for high-end garments. Whether they’re famous, Insta-famous, boardroom ready, or just an average Joe, people don’t want to look like everyone else. To be able to choose your suit – down to every detail – is extremely appealing.
The foundational principle of Brothers Tailors is the “sartorial image.” Peter explains, “The effort and care you take in your appearance corresponds to the effort and care you’re going to take in the product or service you’re selling. And it’s not just an abstract, or vanity thing. We enable professional gentlemen to bring forth their highest form of self, and we do that through tailoring and high-quality clothing.”
Gus and Peter travel the world to continue learning from the best craftsman, to stay current with trends, and to search for the highest quality fabrics for their clientele. Brothers Tailors can craft a look for any occasion, whether imparting the gravitas necessary for an interview or business setting, finding a classic go-to for the sometime suit wearer, or helping create a unique look for an individual’s personal style profile.
“We can create garments that customers may never have even thought about. When you’re up to date on the latest and the best, it’s always new, exciting.” explains Gus. “This is the reason we travel the world. We find new things, like suits with materials that wear like a shirt, how to wear suits or jackets in different ways. The suit isn’t dying, it’s evolving.”
Building on the foundation is the ability to understand what the customer is looking for, what’s the latest trend, and delivering it. Peter says, “Sometimes men don’t instinctively know how things should fit and feel. And when something is perfectly fitted to them, there’s a certain magic that’s created.”
Ultimately, a good, quality tailor is selling confidence. And that means something different to every individual customer. Gus says, “Confidence for a doctor is different than it is for a lawyer. Confidence for the guy who’s getting married, or the guy whose daughter is getting married. Every situation, every case, every person is different, every single time. Doing a good job means our customer is happy.”
Gus and Peter attribute their longevity in the business to their relationships with customers, skill and passion for tailoring, and quality products that are personal and professional to the highest standards. Peter says, “The meaning of life is finding your passion. The purpose of life is passing it on to someone else. And we understand that wholeheartedly.”