Jenanne Filat reaches out to far-flung locales across the globe to create the tailor-made, exquisitely crafted suits offered in her River Market boutique, Barakat Bespoke. It was her Palestinian emigre father’s love of downtown Little Rock that inspired her to open her own doors there in 2014.
Filat grew up surrounded by fashionable fabrics, as her mother’s family were fine cloth merchants, while her father was a trained tailor who left his homeland in 1968 to start a new life in Chicago, When his brother met and married an Arkansas woman nearly a decade later, he visited Little Rock and fell in love with it. He decided to move to the city himself and launch his own tailoring enterprise called the Stitching Post, which lasted for decades on 7th Street, until his retirement.
The exotic name of Filat’s shop comes from her mother’s family name of Barakat, combined with the classic British term for “fabric that’s spoken for.” Carrying on the five-generation family tradition that extends back to 1893 Old Jerusalem, Filat has developed a highly personalized approach to her clientele. The decision to work with them on a one-on-one, appointment-only basis was borne out of necessity in dealing with the COVID pandemic, but has since proven to be key to her success.
“Going to appointments is the best thing we’ve ever done, because you get our undivided attention, and it’s more private so it’s more laid-back in the meeting,” explained Filat. ” Everybody raves about it and loves that we’ve done that.”
While Barakat offers in-house tailoring, the work of creating the suits takes 4 to 12 weeks and involves expert craftsmanship from fabric mills and tailors in Dubai, Jordan and Lebanon as well as Italy. Manufacturers in England and Hong Kong make 95% of the actual suitings. The results range in price from $995 to “the sky’s the limit” – depending on how exquisite and rare the fabrics involved and the level of detail are – with the average suit selling for $1,895. Her clients are happy to pay the price to achieve perfection.
The shop offers four exclusive lines of suits, from its Foundation Collection to the Essential and Classic levels to the “Ultimate Bespoke,” where unique requests like 24K gold and diamonds can be included in the fabric. Barakat also designs suits for groomsmen and their wedding parties in addition to offering personal style consultant services that can help men transform their entire lifestyle and appearance.
“In everything, I like to educate my clients to shop value and not price,” noted Filat. “Our pricing is a little higher than most places, but the value you get and the quality is superior to anything you’ll receive off the rack anywhere. We go over the fabrics – how the fabrics will wear and how they’ll drape on you. We ask several questions so we know the direction to take [the client] in. That one-on-one, personal experience is being lost, especially with the internet these days.
“When my clients put on their suits – when we help them look better and feel better about themselves – they become more confident. Making the client happy makes me happy.”
Photos courtesy of Barakat Bespoke.
Barakat Bespoke is located at 417 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock. Call (501) 952-0719 or visit barakatbespoke.com.