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Entrepreneur TUX FACTOR Single-handedly undercutting an industry increasingly out of touch with the modern man, serial menswear magnate Sebastian Garcia brings a characteristically cutting-edge approach to the art of formal wear. TEX T BY RYAN JARRELL I t’s a question that’s haunted hangers-on, wannabes and economic analysts for generations: What is it, precisely, that separates the successful entrepreneur from the pedestrian proletarian just living for the weekend? What algorithm encapsulates the ingenious spark that has driven such diverse historical worthies as Steve Jobs, Elvis Presley and Tom Ford? In short, what precisely does innovation look like? Although we are perhaps absent of answers, studious members of our citizenry could find no better case study of entrepreneurial prowess than Sebastian Garcia, founder of a number of landmark menswear interests including Miami-based The Lapel Project, premiere menswear store Sartori Amici and My Grooms Room. Bearing a story almost startlingly similar to most of his fellows, Garcia was born in Miami to Cuban emigres and lived what qualifies for our city as a rather typical life. Graduating from the University of Florida with a business degree, he settled into a life selling menswear when an idea hit him, an idea destined to recast the future of not only himself, but of any man in need of elegant eveningwear. “Being on the frontlines of the menswear industry for years, I realized that clients had only two very limiting options — they could purchase a tuxedo, which is literally the most expensive and impractical piece of clothing you can buy, or they could rent one,” he says. “Renting a used tuxedo costs over $200, and I was questioned why someone would want to wear a used garment for some of the 64 most important experiences of their lives. You don’t even wear used clothing to go the gym!” It was in the grips of such cross- examination that The Lapel Project was born, an enterprising accessory line that allows you to transform any suit jacket into a tuxedo with a staggering array of stylish options. Catapulted to the pinnacle of our cultural consciousness with a polished appearance on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank, Garcia is careful not to let such flash-in-the-pan exposure blind him to the patient steps necessary to foster his budding business. “Shark Tank was a godsend, but pioneering a new type of men’s product transcends any notoriety from being on TV,” he says. “Most of all, the show taught me that even with such high-profile opportunities, it’s important to remain humble and committed to a long-term vision.” Perhaps the most fortuitous return on his appearance was a blossoming mentorship with Shark Tank star and successful investor Mark Cuban, whom Garcia cites, along with his own father, as being a massive influence in his life. So what’s next for this fashion-minded mogul? Like any good Miamian, Garcia is ever-endeavoring to provide even more sizzling styles to The Lapel Project roster. “We’re working on new designs that include more exotic and luxurious detailing and materials, along with an expansion of the accessories that complement our lapels,” he says. “And you can also expect to see a few surprises, but we’ll keep those to ourselves for now!”; TheLapelProject.com.