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The Skinny Suit

“No one listens to my ideas for products y’know?” your uncle says, shaking his head.

“Haha, like what?” you ask as you take a seat and rest your iPad on your lap, anticipating a long story.

“They’re good ideas. Great ideas. They’re money making machines.”

“Like what?” you ask again, showing enthusiasm mostly out of politeness because you’re anticipating a ridiculous idea like the Snuggie but with feet pockets.

“Ever heard of the skinny suit?” he says, nodding slowly with a big smile on his face. The video call freezes long enough for you to notice the tobacco stains on his teeth.

You’re impressed. Even if you don’t like the skinny suit, you know it’s a big thing. But you also know timing is everything. So you try to ask, “when’d you think of the skinny suit?” but he cuts you off mid way with “the 90s! I tol’ my wife to tell’er bro. Y’see they’re both Chinese. I tol’er to tell’em to partner up. They both just laughed in…”

You do the math as he’s talking. Chinese? Why does that matter… Ah, because they must be connected to cheap labor and production. This can help him fuel his idea. You veer back to his soundbites and watch his round, bald head move along to his words through your iPad screen.

“…I used to walk down the street in my skinny suit and people would say, ‘hey brotha! where’d you get that suit?’ And ‘that’s a sharp suit my man!’ And ladies would say, ‘I like your suit handsome.’ And I’d say, ‘it’s great isn’t it? y’know, it ain’t no regular suit.’ They’d nod and say ‘interesting’ and ‘well what is it then?’ and if they’re in groups they’d look at each other and say ‘oh?’ ‘It’s a skinny suit’ I’d tell em. ‘See? It’s skinnier than those regular suits.’ They’d say ‘where’d you get that thing?’ And I’d tell em, ‘I get it from someone in Vietnam. I know people out there.’ And y’know how they respond?” He asked, a wide smirk on his face.

“Who do you know in Vietn?” you ask.

“No!” he interjects. “They’d say ‘great suit!’ And the ladies would say, ‘you’re mighty handsome, what’s your name? But when I tol’ my wife and her bro, they laughed right in my face. ‘Ha ha, the skinny suit’ they’d say. ‘What a crazy idea. You should see yourself in that thing.’”

“Ha ha, that’s not very nice” you almost say, but he jumps in with “Y’know what finally made the skinny suit so popular?”

“The Japanese? They’re quite progressi” you try, but he takes the mic again with "Mad Men. After Mad Men the skinny suit took right off. Zoom. That draper guy went with my idea. The skinny suit. My idea. No one listens I tell ya” he says.

Published 14 Aug 2016

Husam Machlovi

Product Strategy & Design