We asked Mariano García Forcada, Director and Designer of Protocolo
, flat out, “doesn’t protocol stipulate that nothing else should take attention away from the bride?” “But a well-dressed groom makes a bride shine even brighter,” he responded. If there’s anyone that knows about style and distinction, it’s Mariano. As a member of the fourth generation of a family whose tradition in the textile industry dates back to 1908, he has spearheaded the internationalization of this company that focuses on providing men’s fashion for ceremonies and formal events. After the recent grand opening of their first store in Colombia, he spoke to us about trends, growth and digitalization. All of this is veiled within the context of their silver anniversary… and they steadfastly raise their glasses with all eyes set on celebrating their fiftieth!
-When and why did you decide to specialize in formalwear for men?
-Twenty-five years ago there were no stores that specialized exclusively in dressing grooms and groomsmen. We had a multi-brand store, Tenorio, in the city of Zaragoza. We sold so many groom’s suits there that we came up with the idea of opening the first Protocolo store, dedicated exclusively to dressing men at their milestone moments and events, including their weddings.
-How are you celebrating your 25th anniversary?
-We’ve programmed a series of activities that add a little something extra with regard to our Novios de Protocolo Cava, all of which fit neatly under our celebratory concept of “25 years of keeping the pace with wedding tradition.” We’ve already shown an advance of the 2017 collection at the Madrid Fashion Show and we’re getting ready to present a total look to our international clients and franchises at Barcelona Bridal Week.
Plus, we’ve just opened a store in Medellín, Colombia. In Mexico we’ll be setting up commemorative exhibit of these last 25 years in the very near future.
And, as a result of the experience and knowledge we’ve gained over all these years, we’re preparing a “protocol tool for knowing what to wear.” They’re tutorial videos where we explain everything from how to tie a bowtie to what sorts of events call for morning coats, tuxedos or white-tie attire.
-Any digitalization plans…?
-Of course. In today’s market we have to be in touch with our customers. We’re on all the social media channels and we have a blog at www.elprotocolodelsabervestir.com
We’ll begin selling accessories online before the summer.
-Protocolo presents one collection a year. How many lines are in the catalog?
-We have one line for formal occasions that’s made up of our full evening dress range and the different types of morning coats, that run the gamut from the most classic styles, with pinstripes, to the English version which is slightly shorter and has matching trousers. As for our tuxedo line, we offer the classic version with shawl collars, or more colorful styles that have peaked lapels, in addition to a variety that are made in velvet. Lastly, our most up-to-date line of suits includes styles that have varying lengths made of fabrics in black, hues of blue or grey, with prints and assorted silhouettes.
We also offer suit ensembles that match to perfection with our range of accessories, including shirts, shoes, ties, waistcoats, ascots, cufflinks...
-You’ve pivoted your approach to provide a total look for grooms and their groomsmen, but you also dress pages, ring bearers and other male members of the wedding party.
-The pages are our junior grooms. We design morning coats and suits for them that match the groom’s. For other wedding party members, we have a full collection of morning coats and suits in special fabrics and designs.
-How many do you produce a year?
-Right now our production is at roughly 5,000 suits per collection. Add to that all of the accessories and bespoke suits.
-What fabrics and materials do you work with?
-Wool and silk, pure wools, mixtures of wool and viscose, wool and polyester…. Each suit and style is identified by its fabric. When we go through the samples, the first thing we look for is design, quality and lastly, price. We can state for the record that we work with the best fabric manufacturers.
The shoes are always leather and patent leather.
-What are the latest trends in formal attire?
-Right now morning jackets have been using the same fabric for the frock coat as well as the trousers and they cover a full range of greys and blues, not just black; plus they come in different lengths and styles. Tuxedos are being made with draped and special occasion fabrics, and blazers that come in colors like blue and black are preferred. Suits are being made in skinny silhouettes with printed fabrics and contrasting colors, blue being the favorite.
-Where does Protocolo have a presence? Which markets?
-In the Latin American market, in Mexico, we have our flagship store on Avenida Presidente Masaryk de Colonia Polanco in Mexico City and three ‘stores within a store’ in the Salón Inglés of the Palacio de Hierro department store chain. In Colombia we’ve just opened a franchise in Medellín and we’re set to open another in Bogota before the end of the year. We also sell in Brazil through multi-brand stores.
In Europe we have multi-brand points of sale in France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where we also have our own stores, four franchises and corner shops at El Corte Inglés.
In all they amount to 62 points of sale. Our current export rate is 15% and our goal is to raise that to 40% over the next two years.
- And where do you see the potential for growth?
-Latin America is our main target market. And we’re currently stepping up our game in European countries like France, the Benelux region and Germany with help from our team of distribution agents.
Headquarters: C/Efedra 9, Naves C35 y C36. 50720, La Cartuja Baja, Zaragoza.
Markets: Mexico, Colombia and Europe.
Points of sale: 62.
Annual production: 5,000 suits plus bespoke services and accessories.
Export rate: 15%.
Trade shows: Barcelona Bridal Week and Intermoda (Mexico).