Coss Marte wants a go well with. He lately misplaced an amazing quantity of weight, after which there’s the half the place the previous self-professed drug kingpin was lately launched from jail. So Marte doesn’t simply want a go well with. He wants a new go well with, a pleasant go well with, a go well with that matches him. A grab-his-second-chance go well with.

It’s spring 2013, only a couple months after he completed a second stint in jail, and Marte has possibly $50 to his identify. He has a set of Jordans that he’ll ultimately promote for round 15 grand, however for now he’s trawling Instances Sq. inquiring at each retailer a couple of retail or minimum-wage job that received’t materialize. He has an interview with Goodwill Industries for “a little-paid internship job,” he tells me.

After his first stint, Marte says he was “smug” and “skeptical about plenty of nonprofit applications.” However now he’s working with The Fortune Society, a program that helps former inmates navigate the post-prison transition, which referred him to satisfy with one other group known as Profession Gear, a longtime nonprofit that may, amongst different issues, assist get him right into a go well with for that interview.

There, on Wall Avenue, Marte meets a ”quick, Spanish, bald man with glasses,” says Marte. “He really did jail time himself, and we had been relating and speaking about jail stuff.” This man, Marte says, was placed on God’s inexperienced Earth to place folks in fits. “Instantly he was like, ‘I do know what goes first.’ He has an eye fixed; he’s good at this,” Marte explains.

So onto Marte’s newly slim body goes a charcoal grey Idea go well with. After eight years of jail jumpsuits, it suits completely. “It was very tight-fitted—it was simply good for my physique,” says Marte. The quick Spanish dude (his identify escapes Marte) then proceeds to provide a brief lesson in dressing 101. “I assumed I knew the way to gown,” says Marte. However that day he realized to measure how a shirt ought to match on the neck by inserting his finger between the collar, which buttons to cinch on a jacket, and the way to completely place a tie. Possibly it was the go well with, the arrogance it introduced, each or neither, however Marte received the internship, which later become a full-time gig.

If his identify sounds acquainted, it is perhaps since you’ve seen Coss Marte in articles from The New York Instances, CNN, NPR, The Guardian, Attract, and a number of others who informed the story of a former inmate who based a prison-inspired exercise enterprise. Marte began his enterprise, ConBody, with the assistance of accomplice Michael Rothman, whom Profession Gear assigned to be Marte’s mentor in 2013.

The Idea go well with remained Marte’s favourite till the pants ripped a couple of months in the past. “As soon as I put it on in that dressing room and he mounted it up for me,” says Marte, “I used to be simply myself within the mirror figuring out, That is the most effective.”


Marte’s is a rare case. There’s a cause so many prestigious publications gravitated towards him: This occurs occasionally. The possibilities of going from former inmate to health CEO are microscopic—however they’re not a lot increased than the chances of a former inmate merely efficiently reintegrating into society. Seventy-seven % of launched prisoners are arrested once more inside a five-year span, in line with the Brookings Establishment.

Profession Gear is devoted to serving to folks like Marte change that statistic. Like many different applications, Profession Gear helps unemployed, previously incarcerated, and homeless males get again on their ft. What units the group aside is that it places fits entrance and middle.

The distinct blue rug on the Profession Gear showroom in New York’s Monetary District seems to be the results of many a Smurf’s sacrifice. Atop sit a number of racks of fits—tags from Males’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Financial institution dangle simply above the ground; one other rack reveals items from Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, Burberry, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Boss. Jack Erwin shoeboxes are stacked on a shelf on the underside of a rack of clothes, they usually tower from the highest of a submitting system till they graze the roof. A round rack of Canali, Armani, and Geoffrey Beene ties stands simply barely off to the facet. After which there’s a whole warehouse of overflow objects within the South Avenue Seaport district. “We try to make it as very like a retail—form of Saks Fifth Avenue go well with store—expertise as it may be,” says Patrice Diaz-Migoyo, Profession Gear’s government director.

Profession Gear was based in 1999 by Gary Discipline. It sprouted out of a private want: Discipline was as soon as a recovering substance abuser who accomplished a job-prep program and solely had $50 to purchase a go well with for interviews. He landed a job. Regardless of—or due to—the blissful ending, Discipline got down to create an answer for these in comparable circumstances.