Sebastian Keitel’s inspiration for his debut fashion line comes from his great-great grandfather Ferdinand de Lesseps, who engineered the construction of the Suez Canal.
Keitel, creative director and founder of DeLesseps, is a recent SMU graduate selling his ready-to-wear Nehru and Mandarin collared shirts. Keitel launched DeLesseps immediately when he graduated in Dec. 2017.
“I saw a lack of Mandarin collared shirts in the market,” Keitel said. “And I’m trying to exploit this niche of bringing back the Shanghai Tang meets J. Peterman style band-collared shirts.”
His shirts are currently at six stores, and on the verge of adding four more.
“Locally, we’re about to launch in Stanley Korshak and Indigo 1745 when they both transition to spring (S/S18) next month,” Keitel said. “I’ve literally talked my way into all of my stores; it takes guts.”
In addition to selling his clothing, Keitel enjoys the traveling aspect of his job. “Just in the last eight days I’ve been in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami. It’s nice not being bound to one location.”
Venturing to these major cities allows Keitel to view and absorb the most popular trends from across the continent.
“As a brand we stand out through our design and attention to detail,” Keitel said. “All of our shirts are hand-made at the highest quality, featuring an 18 stich per inch thread count and our signature turquoise buttonhole stitching and crescent moon logo.”
DeLesseps production manager Sergio Melconian works with Keitel once a month at Ripley Shirt Company in Dallas.
“Many people don’t know there are different grades of shirts and most shirts on the rack are not that great quality even if they are 200 dollars,” Melconian said. “We make Sebastian’s shirts with custom quality usually reserved for made to measure shirts.”
The custom quality of the shirts is what sets them apart from others. For Keitel, high standards run in his family.
“It’s my baby and I’m my own boss, so I can do what I want, when I want,” Keitel said. “However, that can also be a challenge when trying to maintain focus and balance. I need to outsource everything that I’m unable to do – which other than designing, is almost everything.”
Keitel said every day is a learning opportunity.
“SMU influenced me to realize there is always more to learn, and because of this I decided to partake in a prestigious fashion accelerator program which I was accepted into spanning the next 10 months.”
From his perspective the future looks sunny, as he looks forward to future collections of luxury, contemporary resort wear.
“We also have strategic collaborations with swimwear and footwear brands debuting this summer,” Keitel said.