Where Cars and Clothing Meet, You Find This Mechanic Turned Tailor
Spanning bespoke, made-to-measure, and ready-to-wear collections, Mike-Paul Neufville’s brand is broad in its scope but focused in its attention to detail. His relaxed, modern aesthetic takes classic silhouettes like suits and chore coats and adapts them for contemporary tastes. The result is a versatile wardrobe of stylish basics and polished showpieces that pretty much any man could feel good about wearing. Following the soft opening of his brand-new studio on Toronto’s waterfront and the recent endorsement of legendary creative director Jim Moore, Neufville took a few minutes to talk about his story, his craft, and the ways forward.
How did you get started in fashion design?
I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. I didn’t come from a long line of fashion professionals, and I didn’t have that from-birth fascination around fashion—it came to me later in life, and I just started to think a little bit deeper about it. I’ve always had a creative bent, but my first career was working on cars as a mechanic. After I moved to Toronto in 2009, I got a job at Harry Rosen, and I fell in love with the products that I got to experience on a daily basis. From that point, I started educating myself on the brands I liked and learned about what made them tick.
How did your work as a mechanic prepare you to be a custom tailor?
In the first week of my mechanic job, I made a huge mistake, and it humbled me quickly. I learned how important it was to focus on the details, and I think that experience really helped me become who I am today.
Why did you choose to start Mike-Paul Atelier?
Every time that I thought deeply about it, I kept coming back to the idea of having my own brand. I saw an awesome opportunity to relate to a certain type of customer, someone who was a lot like myself. At that point I realized it was my destiny, and I just kind of started working in that direction.
What pieces that you’ve made are you most proud of and why?
This forest-green suit for Dalmar Abuzeid. He was a friend before he was a client, and he needed something special to wear to the Canadian Screen Awards, where his project Anne With an E was up for an award. It was one of the first pieces that I got to make, and it’s still one of my favourites to this day. I’m also really excited about what I’m doing with bespoke casual wear, like fall-winter jackets in familiar materials modernized in different silhouettes.
How did you connect with GQ creative director Jim Moore?
I met Jim Moore at a book signing just days before the lockdown. The book was a collection of Jim’s work in GQ over the years, and I’ve been reading GQ for a long time so obviously I wanted to buy it and have him sign it. He talked about being from Minnesota and coming to New York City in the ’70s and making a name for himself, so when I get up to meet him and have him sign the book, I said to him, “Hey man, I really connected with the story you told about being from a small town and just starting out. That’s how I feel.” And just like that it was the beginning of a relationship.
What kind of advice has he given you so far?
The advice he gives me is priceless. It’s like taking a master class, but it’s all taken from real life scenarios, and the characters in the stories are all my heroes in fashion design. So it’s a little bit of a surreal situation for me right now. One of the main things that I’m learning from him so far is to trust myself, which is a new concept I’m really starting lean into.
What are your plans for Mike-Paul Atelier moving forward?
We’re going to continue to grow our bespoke handmade program, and we have a lot of really exciting things ahead of us with the introduction of Collection, which is our made-to-measure product, as well as the new ready-to-wear Essentials collection. This is where our focus is going to be because I think this type of product—easy, versatile, stylish pieces that can transition from casual to dressy—is what people are really looking for after this hard time we’ve all been through. I have also secured a beautiful studio space on the Toronto waterfront which will serve as the headquarters for all things Mike-Paul Atelier moving forward. It’s an exciting time, for sure.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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