Today, the central tension in men’s suiting exists between those who wear a brand and those brave individuals who chose to dress themselves on their own terms.
For many, names like Brioni, Tom Ford, and Turnbull & Asser are absolute badges of quality in a sea of slipshod workmanship and zombie consumerism. And even for the very rich, who could conceivably chose to wear a custom wardrobe, the allure of the big brand remains.
For example, top New York City real estate broker Fredrik Eklund was eager to tell me that he only shops at Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford. Manhattan developer and art collector Michael Shvo is also a Tom Ford man. Fashion industry icon and “Project Runway” host Tim Gunn assured me that his entire closet consists of nothing but Suit Supply designs.
Nothing wrong with any of it, but for the custom suit connoisseur, mass-produced looks simply will not do.
We heard about clients who requested crushed diamonds or platinum woven into the fabric.
“I think that when a customer chooses to go to a tailor it shows that they are a little more conscious or critical about the way they dress. They’re not just seeing a fashion label,” Davide Taub, the head cutter for Savile Row’s Gieves & Hawkes, said. Taub travels to a suite at the Mark Hotel three times a year to meet with his clients in New York. “They come to a tailor because they want a bit more personality or individuality in the way that they dress…These are people who are just a little bit more thoughtful and a little bit more critical in everything.”
Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and putting the design process into the hands of a well-heeled customer can be dangerous. In my reporting, I heard about customer requests for crushed diamonds in a suit’s fabric; platinum woven into jackets; a blood-splatter lining inspired by “American Psycho”; and pinstripes that are actually the customer’s name repeated again and again in Lilliputian stitches.
As with so many things, taste is a troubling wild card. So to guide you in your bespoke suiting decisions, LLNYC has collected for you a group of tailoring holy people. These are our men and women of the cloth.
Address: Bond and Bari, 1001 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1224
Bio: Mignona is one of the few serious female tailors in the game — which is pretty damn cool. She’s allergic to gimmicks, so don’t expect a shop that looks like a Disney World reproduction of a London club. Her office is bare bones, but she delivers a bang for your buck.
Style: Traditional, no-bullshit perfection crafted around an individual’s lifestyle.
Customers: Douglas Durst, Jeff Greene, Bruce Mosler, i.e., the real estate folks that build New York
Address: Alton Lane, 11 West 25th Street
Bio: Hunter left Wall Street to start Alton Lane after becoming disillusioned with the male shopping experience. He wanted to create a tailoring experience that felt masculine and like it was being done from the comfort of one’s home. Did we mention that his investors include top European fabric mills? That means Brioni-quality fabrics for a fraction of the price.
Style: An anti-style as unique as the man — from traditional pleats and cuffs to deconstructed white linen.
Customers: Two living presidents, a Google founder, lawyers, financiers and pro athletes
Address: Mark Hotel, NYC; 1 Savile Row, London
Bio: The head cutter for Gieves & Hawkes, a fashion house in London that boasts a Royal Warrant and is where Alexander McQueen apprenticed. Three times a year, Taub brings his trunk to a suite in the Mark Hotel to commune with his Manhattan clientele.
Style: Design-conscious, open-minded Savile Row tailoring with an emphasis on individualism.
Customers: Arab sheiks, bankers, film stars and thoughtful people
Price: $6,800 and up
Address: 239 Varet Street, Brooklyn
Bio: If you want to go really old school, you’ve got to travel. Greenfield set up his tailoring business in Bushwick more than half a century ago and he never quit Brooklyn. A Holocaust survivor, Greenfield rose to master tailor status by meticulously crafting suits for the best-dressed men in the world.
Style: From costume to contemporary: Greenfield makes suits for period dramas like “The Knick” and “Boardwalk Empire” as easily as those for dapper dons and square politicos.
Customers: Presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Barack Obama; General Colin Powell, actor Paul Newman, Cardinal Edward Egan, Michael Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: $2,000 and up
Address: 420 Madison Avenue
Bio: Born in Sicily, Corvato began working on suits at age seven. After immigrating to New York in 1960, he made suits for Brooks Brothers before opening his own shop. Today, the master tailor is 75 and still creating perfect suits with an Old World sensibility.
Style: A natural shouldered and British silhouette with Italian finishing.
Customers: Gay Talese, Ron Perelman, Frank Stella, David Letterman
Price: Corvato was on vacation in August and unable to confirm his pricing in time for print. However, like all custom work from a master, it’s certainly not cheap.