A clothing executive pays for suits.
Good suits for top CEOS, attorneys and such are the focus of Jim Rieser’s daily work, as vice president of sales for Hunter & Lords, which produces clothing at its Knoxville manufacturing facility.
A few years ago Rieser, a Central Ohio resident, had a brainstorm. He decided to pay for eight veterans to get new suits as they transition back to civilian life with a program he calls Suits for Soldiers.
“I don’t want sponsors,” says Rieser. “It means more to me to come out of my own pocket.”Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
Hunter & Lords is a third-generation, family-owned company whose founder was a Marine colonel and a pilot in the Pacific theater. Now in its fifth cycle, the suits program has been so successful that last year 120 veterans told their stories at the Hunter & Lords website. Only eight were selected to be outfitted. In his spare time, Rieser sifts through the veterans’ stories and makes the difficult selection for suit recipients.
“We forget about these guys,” says Rieser. “This keeps them top of mind for me.”
This year’s winners met to choose fabrics and get measured in September, and they will don their new outfits for the first time on Veteran’s Day.
“The Suits for Soldiers helped boost my confidence in a way which launched me into the job market seeking a more challenging and lucrative position in my field of study,” says Columbus resident John Hargrave, an Army veteran who began working at Battelle as a contractor a year ago and today continues as an employee with benefits. Hargrave is an electromechancial technician finishing his bachelor’s degree via a bridge program between Columbus State and Miami University.
Below, we’ve asked Rieser a few questions about his work and Suits for Soldiers.
You’ve been in the suit business for a long time. What are the trademarks of a really good suit?
Quality fabric [a weave of super 120s or above] and quality construction. Most people can tell the difference from the feel.
Prior to joining Hunter & Lords, you owned your own tailoring company. How did you initially get so interested in men’s clothing?
I like feeling good in proper fitting clothing and the image it allows me to project.
This is the fifth cycle for this endeavor, so have you considered building the program to serve more veterans?
Yes, but I truly enjoy the intimacy of my campaign, and it means more to me paying for the campaign out of my own pocket as opposed to getting a sponsor who might have a different agenda.
Is it difficult to choose winners, given that you had 120 applicants this year?
It is a very difficult task to select only the eight. Their stories of hardship and sacrifice are mind-numbing.
Do you want to share any words of wisdom?
I am blessed to have the loyal clients that I have developed deep relationships with over the years, and I think they truly value my service and guidance. Proper fitting quality clothing does not make the man, but it sure can help in establishing credibility.