Perhaps love is blind, but local haberdasher Ken’s Man’s Shop made TV grooms look like a million bucks anyway


In episode 8 season three
of Love is Blind, “The Perfect Fit,” dating show contestants descend on Preston Hollow haberdashery Ken’s Man’s Shop to be outfitted for nuptials that might or might not end in marriage. 

“I love the way it fits,” finalist Bartiste Bowden says, as Ken’s owner Kory Helfman slips a jacket over the 25-year-old’s buff shoulders. 

Bowden’s sister asks him how he feels. “I like this!” he replies, admiring himself in the three-way mirror. “No,” she says. “I mean about the wedding.”

The set up

Bowden and the others shopping for the perfect TV-marriage tux are taking part in a Netflix reality show in which contestants meet from individual pods that hide their physical appearance. They spend a few episodes, 10 days real time, “dating,” hoping to fall in mutual love with someone, sight unseen. 

Pairs who connect get engaged and, over the last few episodes, decide at the altar if they will tie the knot. 

Middle episodes are spent in the real world, in this case Dallas, where the couples patronize local businesses. Bowden and his fiance Nancy Rodriguez order matching permanent bracelets, to symbolize their supposedly unbreakable bond, at Oak Cliff’s Mod + Jo. Brennon Lemieux and Alexa Alfia enjoy a romantic dinner at Granada Theater while watching a movie starring themselves. 

While living together and navigating their weird relationships, contestants prepare for a dicey wedding day. 

That’s where Ken’s — operating since the early ’90s at Preston and Royal — comes in. 

When producers called Helfman in spring 2021, he did not think twice about saying yes, because he had worked with them before. 

“Usually, I am not a big fan of doing this kind of thing,” Helfman says. “But if I know the team, and I know that they’re really professional, it makes more sense. I had (outfitted the grooms) for them a few years before on a series called Married at First Sight.”

Though Ken’s air time in Love is Blind totals 10 minutes tops, the contestants and production crew were in the store for two days, not only acquiring menswear but also filming pivotal content.

“First the grooms come in and we meet them, get them measured,” Helfman says. “Then in the afternoon the groomsmen come.”

On day two, the family members and other friends joined. “That’s when you get the scenes of Bartiste (Bowden) talking to his sister or Matt (Bolton) talking to his best friend,” the clothier says.  

Spoilers ahead

In game shows or real life, dressing a groom for the big day involves getting to know his style and personality, Helfman says. 

In doing so, he also gets a feel for  the relationship. Often, the guy’s vibe indicates whether he has a good chance of making it, he says. “You can just tell if someone is in a beautiful strong relationship.” 

Helfman formed his own guesses about what might happen at the reality TV show altar. He had a good feeling about Brennon, for example.

“He’s just down-to-earth, like your friend next door, and he was really gracious and grateful to be there,” Helfman says. “Of all of them, I said this guy is going to say ‘yes’ at the altar.”

He saw something different in Cole Barnett, who did not marry his fiance Zanab Jaffrey. 

“He was really nice and polite, they all were, but I think he was vacillating even in conversations with his friend, and he just seemed maybe emotionally young or maybe inexperienced. Even though I didn’t know her, I felt that one wouldn’t happen.”

While the haberdasher predicted those two, he says Bartiste Bowden’s change of heart in the finale, where he said “I don’t,” surprised him. 

Keeping it real

Helfman also witnessed the families’ concerns about the show and its finalists, their respective children and siblings. 

“We heard conversations about, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ and, ‘You want to do this on live TV? With someone you barely know?’ And, ‘What if you embarrass yourself or us?’” 

Helfman also noted that the male contestants all genuinely liked each other. 

“They really had a great chemistry together. You could see that they spent a lot of time together, and you can already see friendships being formed, maybe long-term friendships at that.”

When the show aired in late 2022, Helfman received countless calls and texts, he says. 

“I was a little surprised how many people were watching Love is Blind. And who was watching,” he says. “Like a football coach in Arkansas texted me that the football team was watching it in the locker room.”

Chris Harrison, former host of pioneering reality romance show The Bachelor, even weighed in with a teasing “stay in your lane” quip, Helfman says. (Harrison is Helfman’s cousin and friend.)

Helfman says his dad, Ken Helfman, who founded Ken’s Man’s Shop in the 1960s, while not too interested in the show, was thrilled to see how great the store looked on TV. 

“I’m happy that we did it, and it gave us a lot of exposure. And it was never in a negative light. That’s my biggest fear with doing anything like this,” Helfman says. “I think that they really did an amazing job of capturing the store, the ambiance, the chemistry we have with clients and the way people come in and shop.”

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