Her Majesty’s Secret Service agent codenamed 007 fights terrorists, narcissistic lunatics, and femme fatales, all while looking great in a two-button Tom Ford suit. During the day, the ever-so brooding billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne prefers a two-button Giorgio Armani suit while at night, changes into an armored bat suit. For CEO Andrew Park, however, fighting the injustices of human and sex trafficking requires a whole new different suit, a custom-tailored Urbane + Gallant Suit.
Park and his team joined forces to produce Urbane + Gallant, a fashionable, ethical, and eco-friendly menswear company! And when you purchase a suit and other U + G products, proceeds will go to help organizations like CAST LA, that provide rescue shelters and educational training for trafficking survivors. It’s a new way for men to take a stand and to empower those whose dignity were taken away.
So how exactly does the 21-year-old Park come up with the idea of bringing suits into the mix and forever changing the perception of masculinity in a generation pumped up to do good? “I knew that I had to grab the attention of the men,” Park says, “And present them with this mission to be the solution to the problem that we created.” And apparently looking dashingly good while doing good.
CG: Do you remember your first suit? What was it like? Who got it for you? I’m assuming you got your first suit as a kid.
Andrew Park: My first suit was a $200 suit from Mervyn’s and my mom got it for me. It was a black suit with a subtle purple pinstripe. I wore it to my first winter formal in high school. (Laughs) It fit. But it didn’t have the tailoring to get the look most guys want these days.
CG: And what about as an adult. What was the first suit you bought for yourself?
Andrew Park: It was a $375 suit from Indochino. Charcoal grey, made to measure.
CG: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Andrew Park: (Laughs) Never in a million years did I think I would be working on my own company. I grew up in a pastor’s home, so I grew up talking about Jesus over the dinner table. And when I got to USC, I naturally went towards the finance route because it was a more guaranteed career path and my parents were comfortable with that.
CG: So the whole pastor thing never came up? Pastors wear suits too…well, some churches who are all about their congregants wearing their Sunday Best rather than wearing casual clothing to church.
Andrew Park: (Laughs) Well, I never felt called to be a pastor early on and even while at USC, but you never know. God can always call me out of business and into ministry.
CG: So…3-piece suit or 2-piece suit?
Andrew Park: Oh man, good question. Hmmm, I’m going to say 3-piece suit. I like the look of the 3-piece suit, but I save it for the occasions where I really want to pop out above all the other guys. Honestly though, I wear 2-piece the most often.
CG: So when’s an occasion for times like that? Weddings? Graduation parties? Speeches?
Andrew Park: Occasions that tend to be a little more upscale. So a wedding that may be more “high roller.” (Laughs) I don’t have too many of those. [Also,] if the occasion is pretty formal as well.
CG: And buttons? 3 buttons, 2 buttons, or 1 button [suits]?
Andrew Park: I really like the 2 button [suits].
CG: Why did you [originally] name your company Gallant Suits? And of all the pieces of clothing, why suits? (Note: Gallant Suits has transitioned to the a new name: Urbane + Gallant)
Andrew Park: I wanted the company name to paint a picture of masculinity that most men may have forgotten about today and “gallant” was the perfect word for it. A gallant man is a young man of fashion, a man who is courageous and fights for the freedom and protection of others, and a man who respects women. Why the suit? When I learned that the global sex trade is driven by a demand that is fed by the men, I knew that I had to grab the attention of the men and present them with this mission to be the solution to the problem that we created. Knowing that men are mission-driven, I needed a symbol that could naturally unite all the men around the world to this mission of ending human trafficking. The suit was perfect for it because it’s already been inculcated into our society as a symbol of masculinity. We would just send a new message with the suit.
CG: So what’s up with manhood today? Or rather, what’s the current state of manhood? Where is at? Where is it going? Where should it go?
Andrew Park: People today are confused about masculinity. But at the heart of this confusion is a deep rooted selfishness that is only concerned about one’s own interests. This can be expressed in two ways: chauvinism or passivity. Both proclivities are selfish, while one tends to be more aggressive than the other. Because of chauvinism we have statistics like 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted (maybe even a higher % on college campuses) and because of passivity, there are now 1 in 3 children in America growing up with out a father in the home (US Census Bureau) as men are skirting away from ever taking responsibility.
CG: So masculinity is also about taking responsibility and taking action…action for good.
Andrew Park: Yes, and that’s where we need to see men moving towards. Instead of men running from responsibility for themselves and for others, we need to point men towards taking responsibility. At the same time, society needs to provide for men an opportunity to take responsibility and that’s what U+G is doing giving men an opportunity to take responsibility for a problem that all men at some point perpetuated and to do good from that.
CG: So with this name change, there’s also new things incorporating shirts [into your lineup] among other things. How did this collaboration come about [with U+G]?
Andrew Park: Urbane + Gallant… since we wanted to go beyond just suits, [we wanted to] have a name that evokes more of a fashion brand rather than just a suit store.
It came about when I realized I needed someone with fashion experience to really hone down the fashion side of the company. I learned as much as I could, but I was still very limited. I could either put this on hold and go to fashion school or find someone who’s already gone through it all and partner up with him or her. That’s when God amazingly opened up the door to meet Vina, our creative director. She came out of Parsons and worked in high-end fashion in NY and LA for about 6 years. I met her right as she quit her company to start her own . It turned out that she wanted to start a fashion company based on love because she saw how cut throat the industry is AND she had a huge heart to combat human trafficking. She found my vision for Gallant unique because she never heard about targeting the men to get to the root cause of human trafficking.
I met David Choi randomly during my junior year [at USC] at a KCM post-meeting event when he just transferred in from UCSD. I didn’t see him much after that until he heard about what I was doing with Gallant. He’s very entrepreneurial himself and worked on two start ups. He set up a meeting so he could learn more about where I wanted to take Gallant. When he realized it was about getting the men to take responsibility, he was hooked because he saw so much of that issue in his life as well and wanted to be part of that mission. By God’s grace, it turned out that David is well-connected in the athletic world (he rowed for UCSD on a scholarship).
David managed the USC football team for a season and the men’s basketball team for a season and built up solid relationships with athletes who became professional athletes in the NFL and NBA so it was through David I got connected to Kyle Negrete ,the former punter for USC, who recently signed with the Chicago Bears. I had no idea what to expect from the meeting [with Kyle Negrete], but I just shared my passion and vision and Kyle was in.
Both of these guys LOVE Jesus and are solid brothers in Christ. As you can imagine, Kyle brings in lots of credibility and resources that I could only dream of. (Laughs) He started two NPO (The Well’s Project and Autism Tree Project Foundation) and has always made an intentional effort to give back to the community.
CG: Ah, okay. So these men you collaborated also exhibit the qualities of men who take responsibility and action for good.
Andrew Park: Yes, yes, yes! And that’s the most amazing part of it, truly only something God could have orchestrated.
CG: Speaking of God, how does faith play in your [personal] life as well as how you run business?
Andrew Park: In my life, God is really hammering home and disciplining me to see Him as LORD over my life. As I learned at Mars Hill OC’s Men’s Training Day, faith for men means to give Jesus our deepest loyalty and God is really developing that heart in me—where I will go through the thick and thin with God as my leader. With that said, in the context of business, it’s the same thing—just how I am not LORD over my own life, I am not the CEO of this business; God is.
And so I’m learning to intentionally seek out God’s direction and leadership when making decisions for U+G and so in terms of how we’re running U+G, the crux of it all is sacrificial love. How can we make business decisions that will allow us to edify and serve others while also being an excellent business? Meaning, we have to be profitable. An example of this is strategically partnering up with organizations so that our supply chain actually helps survivors of human trafficking. Internally, this has been played out with the four of us starting by just praying for one another and praying over this business and asking our churches and friends and family to pray over this business. The huge caveat is this business cannot love others unless the team is being poured into with Christ’s love daily and that’s why we’ve been making sure everyone’s in community and plugged in at a church.
CG: That’s really refreshing to hear, especially how often times masculinity is paired up with ego. There’s a lot of humility in what you said. And there’s definitely a lot of selfless love and sacrifice in making sure everyone on your team is taken care of faith-wise.
Last question, a fun one: What should men pay attention to when it comes to suits? From color, to fit, to cut, to style, etc.
Andrew Park: It depends on how developed your suit wardrobe is. Chances are, the vast majority of men probably have no suits or 1 really terribly fitting suit. So assuming this is a first suit purchase, it’s good to go with a suit that’s the most versatile so that you can wear to most, if not all events you need to go to with a suit.
That suit is the charcoal grey suit, 2 button. You definitely want it to be tailored, snug sleeves, and torso, and fitted pants for it to make you stand out and look sharp. This suit can be worn to interviews, to cocktail parties, to the office, to weddings—you may be able to squeak by at a more formal part. Just get a bunch of shirts and ties to change up your outfit and most won’t be able to tell you’re wearing the same suit. And also pocket squares.
CG: Darn, you bring up a good point, so I lied and will ask you another question: what’s your favorite way to display the pocket square? That will be the very last. (Laughs)
Andrew Park: (Laughs) I’m a big fan of a clean and sharp look, nothing too fancy and ostentatious. So, I enjoy having my pocket squares a straight slit in the chest pocket.