Raja Ratan, the founder of menswear brands Q Clothier and Rye 51 at 3699 McKinney Ave., Suite 310 in West Village, has built a career on providing the finest handmade shirts for the fashion-conscious male. Now he is committed to keeping customers looking sharp above the collar.
“My family has been in the tailoring industry for more than 60 years,” Ratan said. “My father has been a custom haberdasher his whole career. I took that family knowledge and expertise and brought it to a street level operation for custom clothing, which wasn’t — at that time — typically done. It was more trunk shows, road shows and people going to people’s homes and offices. So, I started our first retail store, when I was 23, in the West Village where we still are.”
As 20-year tenants, Q Clothier outlasted long time West Village stronghold Mi Cocina, which recently moved down McKinney Avenue.
Ratan, a Dallas native and product of Jesuit and UT, decided to get into his customer’s heads. “From my research before getting into this [men’s grooming] industry, you have the more themed, loud and a little bit lower-end experience that are about $30 and down in price point,” Ratan said. “Then, there is a big jump up to men’s salon pricing which is similar to women’s salon pricing, where haircuts are $60 and up.
“I found there to be a soft spot in that $40 area with a really refined experience, refined atmosphere, great barbers and just a great space.” Talking to his existing clothier customers convinced Ratan that he had a market currently underserved. “Obviously, the demographic we are trying to serve I am in front of on a daily basis.”
Ratan, 43, is in the target audience. He found that he couldn’t get a quality haircut or hot shave in Dallas without being inundated with themed establishments or upsold for grooming packages. He wanted to create an elevated, but approachable hub in his community for men to come get a haircut, shave and have a friendly conversation.
On August 23, Ratan opened Mr. Winston’s, a classic-style four-chair barbershop offering quality haircuts and facial grooming for an approachable price. There are many options for men’s haircuts in Uptown. including those in and around West Village. “We are looking to bring the best atmosphere and believe we have done that with the buildout,” Ratan said. “It’s spectacular. It’s beautiful space and what we consider the best mix of space, experience and price.”
Designed by Dallas’s Foxcroft Studio, the barbershop nods to the traditions of the past with subway tiled walls, walnut wood framed mirrors, Carrara marble and brass fixtures. Leather sofas will provide seating while gentlemen wait for their turn while talking about how they could restore the Cowboys to their former glory.
Haircuts are $40. A straight razor shave is $50. While no longer “two bits,” a shave and a haircut are $80 (320 bits), which makes the combination quite reasonable compared to many men’s styling salons. Other services include beard trims, brow, nose and ear waxing, the head shave (currently in vogue) and the buzz cut (once very much in vogue).
Ratan also created a Mr. Winston’s line of men’s grooming products including a variety of custom scented pomades and hair and beard moisturizers.
Mr. Winston’s is at 3699 McKinney Ave., Suite 311 just in front of the Q Clothier and Rye 51 in-house alterations room. The barbershop touts “a sophisticated atmosphere, amazing barbers, great tunes on the turntable (or a great flick on the TV), and exceptional service.”
They also offer the “Snooze Request” for patrons wanting a quiet respite. “When a customer is booking their appointment either in person or online, we ask them if they want to chitchat, just mellow out or have some friendly banter,” Ratan said. “That was a big pain point for me getting a haircut. You feel like you have to talk even if you don’t want to talk.”
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information and appointments can be made at mrwinstons.com.
As a style professional. Ratan has seen the changing trends in menswear. “The general wearing of suits to work is somewhat gone,” Ratan said, “except for trial attorneys, businessmen and salesmen when their calling card is wearing a suit every day. We are fortunate to have two brands under one roof. Rye 51 is our casual brand with everything for the jeans and T-shirt guy to a little more sophisticated like an Italian soft jacket and five pocket trousers.
“And then two worlds combine really well because the new suit for business meetings or business dinners is a sport coat and jeans. We are well equipped for the guy that wants a custom sports jacket and also pairs it with denim and everything in between. When all of this evolved, we were equipped to handle the way the modern guy dresses.”
Q Clothier is Ratan’s custom line and Rye 51 is ready to wear. “For the last 12 years, we have offered the option of casual and dress. For the first 10 years, we were strictly custom. It has shifted from about 75 percent custom clothing and 25 percent casual clothing to 50/50.”
Despite the meteoric rise of online retailing, Ratan said, “We are very bullish on bricks and mortar. In fact, we just opened our ninth store in Nashville last fall.” They are returning to a “major” push to expand which was tabled during the pandemic. “E-commerce represents about one percent of our business. What we offer cannot be replaced by e-commerce.”
Ratan hopes to expand the Mr. Winston’s concept based on the success of the West Village location.
“We are heavily a clientele business,” which is another reason why Ratan opened Mr. Winston’s. “We offer the best service on earth. We are happy with what we are doing.”
The name Mr. Winston’s evokes thoughts of a barbershop on Main Street in a village. It is the unofficial epicenter of the community, where opinions are as hot as the face towels. Certainly, there was an influential Mr. Winston that played a key role in shaping Ratan.
“Winston is the middle name of my first son,” Ratan said. “I wanted to have a nostalgic feel and I thought the name rang a bell. The shop we built is a nod to old school, traditional barbershops. ‘The neighborhood barbershop redefined’ is one of our taglines. Small spaces, small leather chairs and lots of comradery where people can get together.” The new, old barbershop has been updated, but can still be found in a Village.