Meet the 18-year-old Mississippi entrepreneur who is revolutionizing menswear
Published 9:37 am Saturday, June 10, 2023
By Jimmy Durham
Meet Chandler Rios, the 18-year-old entrepreneur revolutionizing menswear with his innovative Oxford company, Blue Thread Project.
As the owner and operator, Rios goes beyond creating perfectly fitting custom suits – he ensures that each piece reflects the wearer’s unique personality.
With his exceptional talent, Rios has been turning heads across the nation. Recently, his remarkable work caught the attention of the Auburn University football team and coaches, leading to an agreement to provide the team’s players with bespoke suits.
For over a year now at the Blue Thread Project’s brick and mortar location on Old Taylor Road, Rios has been quietly working to supply high quality customized menswear.
Menswear that is more than just another suit to go into a closet and be forgotten, but suits that give a glimpse of insight into the person wearing his clothes, is Rios’ aim.
“I’m a storyteller more than anything,” said Rios. “I want people to see the suit, and because it has the personality of the wearer so apparent, they will be compelled to start a conversation with the suit wearer.”
Chandler said his suit story began by watching his father, Nathaniel Rios, who worked at JoS. A. Bank Clothiers. “I would watch my dad work and see how patient and precise he was.”
At the age of 14, Rios’ father took him under his wing and began teaching him how to properly measure accurately. It can take up to 30 different measurements for one suit depending on a style.
When JoS A. Bank closed, Nathaniel saw an opportunity.
“I saw something might be missing in the market, but I didn’t come to Oxford to establish a business and money, “ said Nathaniel, pastor of Wellspring Community Church. “I took this to Chandler and he responded really positively.”
“I really thought it was a great idea and I wanted to run with it, “ Chandler agreed. “We’ve been so fortunate.“
Blue Thread Project takes its name from Numbers 15:38: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue.”
Chandler says the thing that makes his business different from others in the industry is the priority he places on getting to know his clients. He wants each customer to “to feel like a million bucks,” he said.
It’s the reason why Blue Thread Project hand delivers each suit to ensure what they term a Perfect First Fit (PFF).
Rios doesn’t do what he does alone. He works with two off site tailors who work from the measurements he takes and customizes per the customer’s directions. Chandler is also supported by his four brothers and mother.
Blue Thread Project schedules one-on-one consultation to get started. It’s during that consultation that Rios makes the precise measurements needed all the while talking with the client about their preferences such as cut, color, fabric, buttons, coat lining. Rios says he tries to get a feel for who each customer is because when the day is done, they will have a conversation starter suite.
Once the measurements are made and the customer makes personal decisions on customizations such as embroidering names and messages and symbols on the suit if requested.
Nathaniel Rios credits Coach Hugh Freeze, with whom he had been acquainted with for 12 years, with recognizing the talent in Chandler and putting them in touch with the Auburn Tigers team.
“That is why relationships are so important to me. I work hard to build them and sustain them,”
Future plans for Rios? “My brothers and I were home-schooled, so I’m excited to go study business at Ole Miss.”
When asked where he sees Blue Thread Project going forward, Rios paused to consider, then said, “I would like to see franchises in the future. It’s a model I think other young men could easily adopt and they can have their own Blue Thread Project. My friends have already been calling asking me how they could open a suit company, too.”