Lexington’s newest downtown fashion house debuts
BY KRISTINA ROSEN
Albert Lukonga created Albert Couture because he values creativity and dressing well. Albert Couture is downtown Lexington’s newest high-end menswear store offering made-to-measure suits, shirts, ties, trousers, and custom shoes.
It’s a crazy time to be launching a business, but timing couldn’t be any better for Lukonga as both Jos. A. Bank locations in Lexington closed in August. Jos A. Bank was the store where Lukonga honed his skills in the industry and built relationships with clientele.
“Everyone thought I was crazy, I didn’t need the job, but I took it,” says Lukonga. He started out as an entry-level sales assistant making $8 an hour. He received no formal training, educated himself as he went, and in less than six months he was promoted to manager.
Lukonga’s vision for Albert Couture came from not being able to afford clothes while growing up in the Congo. Living below poverty in a third world country, he was still taught to iron his clothes even if they had holes, dress properly and always look put together.
He relocated to America in 2006 not knowing a word of English, but he admits that opportunities have come for him because of how well he dresses. People are often surprised to learn of his impoverished upbringing because of the way he walks, talks and dresses. It’s clear he isn’t looking for sympathy. “I could be vulnerable or I can take that energy and change it into what makes me unique and stronger. I think I have something to offer that can motivate a lot of people.”
“People can relate to my story, but I am not convinced they will start a business after hearing it. Whatever it is you want to do in life, I hope my story helps get you started.”
Albert Couture is completely self-funded. Friends and family told Lukonga he was crazy, but he simply responds, “Well I had no choice, I wanted to start now.”
Lukonga continues, “I could wait and one day when I was on this level of financial stability to start my business, but my biggest fear is that tomorrow is not promised. You make peace with that and you don’t live in fear. I think people should embrace fear and live their life as much as they can.”
His biggest goal is to educate Lexington on how to dress, claiming “to bring New York to Kentucky.” He hopes people can come to respect high-end fashion brands in Kentucky like they do bourbon. “Kentucky should not only be known for bourbon and horses, but that we know how to dress well.”
Offering quality products is as important as offering a quality experience; Lukonga helps cater the garments to each individual. “I think it’s something in life you need a professional to execute. I don’t want people to make their own wedding cakes with their own instructions. I want to have you in my showroom, make you a drink, and sit down for an hour to enjoy that personalized time and service. I want to bring that experience back into town.”
Albert Couture was slated to open in February, but the pandemic delayed the showroom from opening its doors until June.
“The best time to plant a tree is not yesterday or tomorrow, it’s today. That’s my motto. I like to travel the road less traveled, I feel like there is more potential. It’s very lonely, but what are you willing to forego today for future gains.”
Albert Couture is located at 110 West Vine St. Suite 507, appointment only.
This article also appears on page 6 of the September 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.
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