Smooth Like That offers fine threads, fashion guidance

Smooth Like That owner James Singleton, right, and fashion consultant Henry Smith display a suit. — ABDUL R. SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

As the owner of Smooth Like That, James Singleton focuses on helping men look their best.

Whether they are seeking footwear, a suit for a formal occasion, or a hat to complement their look, many fashion conscious men are turning to Smooth Like That for their gear.

The men’s clothing store, at 5705 North Broad St., offers a vast selection of dress shirts, slacks, suits, neckties, vests, cufflinks, shoes and hats. The shop specializes in carrying a range of clothing that can outfit toddlers to men who wear 6X.

Smooth Like That carries a mixture of suit offerings that range from Sean John to Giorgio, and features a large selection of Stacy Adams footwear.

Singleton enjoys helping his customers navigate the world of men’s fashion.

“I’m a people person. I like to talk to people and I like to try to give them advice on the type of fashion that’s out,” said the North Philadelphia native. “This is in my blood. This is the gift that God gave me.”

Singleton’s interest in fashion began at age 17 when he started working for a men’s store named Leo’s in North Philadelphia. What started out as an after-school part-time job would evolve into a 20-year career at Leo’s. During his time at Leo’s, Singleton honed skills in merchandise buying, tailoring and management. By 2000, Singleton was ready to venture out and he opened Smooth Like That at Germantown and Chelten Avenues.

He’s come a long way from the days when he first launched the shop.

“It was a small store, but I built it up. I worked the whole store by myself before I hired anybody. I couldn’t afford to,” Singleton recalled.

“I had to sell, I had to buy. I had to be my own tailor.”

In 2004, he opened the doors to a second location in the busy Broad and Olney corridor.

Throughout his years as a businessman, Singleton has been proud of having an impact on the lives of young men.

At a time when many young men embrace the popular style of wearing pants worn way below the waist, Singleton offers advice to his young clients about the proper way to wear their clothes.

“I come from the old era where when we went to school, we went to school dressed. We wore slacks and shoes,” he said.

When young men come in seeking a suit for prom season, Singleton seizes the opportunity to give them pertinent advice on how to dress appropriately.

“I really like working with the young kids, because they have no direction on how to dress to go on an interview,” said Singleton.

“Some of them don’t have that role model at home to show them what a man is supposed to dress like.”

In addition to offering fashion tips, Singleton has employed young men from the community.

“I try to give back what I have received. When I first started out I was a young man in the 11th grade and somebody gave me a chance,” he says.

“I really enjoy helping our young generation get themselves together. I try to let them know that there are things that you can do besides just being on the corner slinging drugs and things like that.”

After 12 years of outfitting men, Singleton is considering expanding the shop’s offerings to include more women’s fashions. He currently carries jackets for ladies, however, customers have been requesting women’s clothing.

Like other small business owners, Singleton has had to weather the economic storm of the last two years, but he’s starting to see an uptick in business.

“This year, for some reason, it seems like things are turning back around,” he said, noting that this quarter he’s faring better than he did during the last two years.

Now he’s gearing up for prom and wedding season — a time when the store traditionally sees an surge in customers.

The ability to retain repeat customers has held the store in good stead.

“If you help a person, they are not going to forget about you — and that’s what I do,” says Singleton.

For the last three years, Alfred Savage has been one of the store’s repeat customers.

He and his wife Sharon appreciate the quality of menswear that Smooth Like That has to offer.

“I like the way I’m treated. They’re very professional,” Savage said during a recent visit to the shop.

 

Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or ajones@phillytrib.com.

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