When you’re a high-end haberdasher with a Midtown Manhattan showroom directly across Fifth Avenue from Trump Tower, you never know who might walk in your door.
For Manuel Martinez, who leaves his Corporate Boulevard storefront every summer to spend a few weeks drumming up business in the Big Apple, on this year’s visit it was the vice president of the Republic of Ghana, a West African nation on the Atlantic coast.
Martinez, who opened his Martinez Custom Clothier in Baton Rouge 35 years ago next month, says one of his regular New York clients, an African in the banking industry, came to see him during his recent summer trip, and said he needed a special favor.
“I asked him what I could do for him,” says Martinez. “He said, ‘I need you to make me make some clothes as a gift for the vice president of Ghana.’”
Next thing Martinez knew, Ghanian agents were sweeping his showroom for security threats. Then, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and his considerable entourage descended on the showroom so Martinez could measure him.
“He was nice enough but we didn’t really visit,” he says. They were talking business the whole time.”
Martinez is making three custom dress shirts for Bawumia, each with a price tag of some $400, though the banker is picking up the tab.
“If you’re buying a gift for an elected official you can’t buy something cheap,” he says.
Bawumia may be the first African official Martinez has dressed, but he isn’t the most famous of Martinez’s clients. In 2014, the haberdasher made a custom shooting jacket for Donald Trump Jr., who wore it on the cover of a magazine.