Javier Toledo is responsible for making sure actors look the part – the Spaniard supplies the international film industry with costumes, uniforms and all kinds of accessories.
He was expecting more glamour, Javier Toledo admits, thinking back to the start of his time in charge of Peris Costumes. After all, he had acquired a company with undeniable charm – particularly when compared to the corporations where he had spent several decades working in management. Thanks to Peris Costumes, stars of well-known film productions and series such as The Crown, Bridgerton, Money Heist and Babylon Berlin are able to truly shine onscreen. “Costumes often play as important a role as the actors themselves,” says Toledo. And he should know: hundreds of series and film productions have benefitted from the huge costume collection belonging to Peris Costumes.
The company was founded in Valencia in 1856. When Toledo took over the reins with the help of a group of investors in 2013, he fulfilled a long-held dream of becoming an entrepreneur and being his own boss. But at the time, Spain was still emerging from the financial crisis and the company was struggling, so it seemed virtually impossible to get access to credit. They were “tough years”, he says. He hit on the right formula when he began making the company more flexible and international, but the real breakthrough didn’t come until the advent of platforms and streaming services such as Netflix, Toledo explains. “The digital providers are always hungry for new productions, there’s always something being filmed somewhere in the world. Each film production requires large numbers of costumes – and we are highly flexible with a strong international presence.”
“The interplay between innovation and tradition is crucial for success in my industry”
For the past five years, the company has been growing, and recently moved into a building measuring 16,000 square metres. It’s a far cry from the small warehouse in Madrid where they started out. All in all, the company now has over 25,000 square metres of storage space in which to house its collection of clothing and accessories, which numbers between six and six-and-a-half million items. “It’s a challenge to keep track of,” Toledo admits. “The interplay between innovation and tradition is crucial for success in this industry,” he explains. His 13 original members of staff continue to form part of a workforce that now numbers more than 200. Shoemakers and tailors create made-to-measure pieces just as they would have done a century ago, ensuring the highest levels of quality. Peris Costumes is also able to provide large quantities quickly – it is the global film industry’s biggest manufacturer of uniforms, for example. “People don’t realise that film sets often need hundreds of uniforms.”
Toledo’s aptitude for conducting business internationally is partly thanks to his education at the French School in Madrid, where his parents sent him. “Being brought up bilingually opens up different perspectives,” he says. The business is a family affair, with his son Alejandro working for Peris Costumes in Portugal. “Within the industry, we’ve put the pandemic behind us and it’s all systems go once again,” Toledo is pleased to report. It was a different story back in 2020 though: the company might have been forced to close if it weren’t for Toledo managing to adapt quickly to the new situation. “We started making face masks,” Toledo explains. Mobilising all possible resources, the company was able to produce 650,000 masks, which were donated to hospitals, nursing homes and the military. Toledo was even able to draw on the Peris Costumes collection: the protective clothing from the TV series Chernobyl, which at the time was in storage in Madrid, was supplied to hospitals. It was a strange coming together of fiction and reality at Peris Costumes, with Toledo himself writing the script as it were. He is proud of these initiatives, but the most important thing is that things are now getting back to normal, he emphasises.
Toledo is looking forward to those special moments: he finds it particularly rewarding when people from the industry congratulate him for his contribution to a project. “I don’t want to name-drop, but it is quite an honour to receive praise from some really famous actors,” he says. These are the moments where Toledo experiences the glamour that he had hoped for back when he began his journey with Peris Costumes.
About Javier Toledo
The former corporate manager masterminded the international breakthrough of Peris Costumes, founded in Valencia in 1856. The company is represented in eleven countries, including Germany. In the first half of 2021 alone, Toledo’s company supplied the costumes for more than 350 film productions. Toledo, 61, was born in Madrid to French parents. He is married and has a son.
This article first appeared in WERTE #24, the client magazine of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management.