Tailor to the stars, Louis Copeland says he has no ill feelings towards Vaidas Pilibaitis, the homeless man who torched his store and damaged almost half a million euro’s worth of stock.
46 year old, Vaidas Pilibaitis broke in and set fire to the top suit maker’s Pembroke Street back in July 2018. He broke into the stockroom for shelter, but then set fire to the place, while smoking. He smashed the window, before fleeing the shop.
He was identified on CCTV footage. He had also left his rucksack containing his mobile phone at the scene. He told Gardaí that he did not remember the incident.
He was convicted of the crime last week, receiving a two and half year prison sentence.
Copeland called the incident “Devastating”
It meant that Copeland had to dump around €400,000 worth of silk suits as well as other material. He described this ordeal as “devastating”.
Louis Copeland said, “The first we heard about it was a call at 5am in the morning”.
“I remember going into the city, seeing the fire brigade outside the shop and walking in to find the whole shop full of smoke and so much stock damaged”.
He also added, “We were out of business for three or four months, it was just devastating, and we had to throw out all of the stock”.
Despite this, Copeland felt a degree of sympathy for Mr Pilibaitis. He said, “You have to feel sympathy for this poor man”.
He added, “There he was trying keep himself warm on a cold night, and had to do this. Yes, it cost us a lot of stock, but was anybody hurt?”. “No, thankfully”.
Copeland also said, the incident along with events of this past year, have put things into perspective.
“That was a big disaster, but I think what we are living with is a much bigger disaster. It’s much, much worse. Because in this pandemic so many people have lost loved ones, so many people have been sick, so many people have lost their jobs”.
“That makes it much harder to build it back up”.
Like many businesses, Copeland has many employees working from home. Since this, Copeland has seen a growing interest in “swackets”. These are a casual, but also formal combo that he sells on his website for up to €600.
On this deal, Copeland said, “People are working from home and not wearing suits. We’ve had to adapt. That’s why we have changed to casual wear, and it’s opened new doors for us”.
He also added, “We now retail in a different way by doing Zoom calls”.
Online sales have skyrocketed by 300 percent since the start of the pandemic. Copeland even added that he has been investing in new HD cameras to sell to the Irish diaspora worldwide. This includes from the US to Dubai.
Louis joked, “It’s like RTE in here! But you do need those sorts of high-end cameras because people want to be sure of the exact colour and material before they buy online”.