Around DC

Believe it or not, Washington, DC has become a destination for professional men’s clothing in recent years, from  high-profile retailers Bonobos and Dutch-based Suit Supply (and the HMX Group’s regrettably short-lived Streets of Georgetown) to custom tailors Michael Andrews Bespoke and Alton Lane.  Add to that home-grown talent from the likes of Hugh & Crye, VM Clothiers and Lost Boys, and you have an emerging community catering to modern professional men.  This new energy builds on a rich history of style in the District, including tailors and retail professionals such as Geoffrey Lewis who have been in the business for decades and who are also well-worth getting to know better, as Modern Fellows intends to do over time.

3 Steps to Finding a Good Local Tailor

Posted by on Nov 4, 2015 in Advice & Resources, Around DC, Custom tailoring, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

3 Steps to Finding a Good Local Tailor

You don’t think much about a tailor until you need one. When that moment comes, it can be a little anxiety-inducing.  Can the dry cleaner down the street do it? Would it be better to search Yelp reviews and blog posts for a dedicated tailor? How do I know if they are ripping me off?  At least, these are some of the concerns that have swirled around my head from time to time as I thought about where to take that custom suit jacket whose sleeves were too long, that tie that needed to be shortened, or those pants that needed to be let out. I have never frequented the tailor as much as I have in the three years that Modern Fellows has existed.  For most of that time, those trips to the tailor produced some anxiety — about craftsmanship, knowledge of the garments they were hacking up, their bedside manner, their proximity to home or work and turnaround time. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way — 1. Don’t trust the local dry cleaner: While dry cleaners are capable of sewing buttons or raising or lowering a hem, most are not experts in men’s suiting.  If you need a jacket’s sleeves raised or lowered, the seat of your pants taken out, or anything more complicated like reconstructing the shoulders or length of a jacket, find a dedicated tailor who has experience with men’s clothing. 2. Think convenience: This took me a long time to appreciate. I identified a great tailor — Stephen the Tailor — in Foggy Bottom in downtown Washington, DC.  I’m a creature of habit, and they did a good job, so I went with what I knew.  Trouble was their location is just far enough from work and home to be inconvenient.  The lack of proximity made me less likely to use the tailor and persist with slightly ill-fitting clothing. 3. Get comfortable with one: Try a few, but stick with one. There is scale to sticking with one tailor.  He or she gets to know you, so you don’t have to constantly repeat your preferences.  You may earn a loyalty discount. So who do I use? Last year, a new shop opened in Tenleytown in Northwest Washington, DC.  Tucked between high-end restaurant Matisse and Pete’s Apizza on Wisconsin Avenue, Louice Custom Tailors, run by Master Tailor James Jang, has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood. (See Louice Custom Tailors Yelp reviews here.) James has been in the business for four decades and sells his own line of custom suits and shirts, which are tailored in South Korea. Is he the cheapest? No, but you get what you pay for.  Also, while his prices may not be rock bottom, he occasionally handles small jobs — a pants hem here, shortening a tie there — for free (and, in some cases, while you wait). He also has the expertise to...

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Review: The Knot Standard Custom Suit Experience in Washington, DC

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Around DC, Custom tailoring, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

Review: The Knot Standard Custom Suit Experience in Washington, DC

While Knot Standard has already earned a solid reputation as an online custom tailor, the company is building out a network of premium in-person showrooms around the United States. These showrooms, including one in the U Street corridor in Washington, DC, offer an expanded range of men’s suiting options, where staff excel at making you feel comfortable while still helping you branch out. Read on to find out why we think their showrooms provide the quintessential tailoring experience for the digital age. Modern Fellows’ readers receive a 15% discount online for first time customers via this link and code MODERNFELLOWS at checkout. First-time customers can also receive $250 off a blazer or suit in-store by mentioning code MODERNFELLOWS when making an appointment.  Showroom versus online As Modern Fellows noted in a prior article profiling Knot Standard, The company offers two entry points for customers. Online, the company offers made-to-measure suiting via processes similar to competitors such as Black Lapel and Indochino at prices that begin at around $500. In person, where suit prices begin at just under $800, personal stylists offer a more in-depth custom experience, guiding men through measurements, a broader range of fabrics and impressive bespoke details. The goal is the same – to translate your measurements, whether input via a tailor, yourself or an impressive and surprisingly accurate 3D webcam scanner, to a digital pattern – but the experiences are somewhat different. The showroom experience offers several significant benefits that help Knot Standard shine. The first is a professional who can help get your measurements correct, talk to you about your fit and style preferences and introduce you to new wardrobe ideas. Miriam, who heads their Washington, DC effort, is a wiz at explaining the differences between full and half canvas and the interest an Italian shoulder brings to an unstructured blazer. She and her colleagues can also help you branch out from your basic greys and navys, and suggest and explain touches such as a hand-stitched working boutonniere. Second, the showroom offers a significantly expanded selection of fabrics, including a wealth of high-end material. Since they opened the showrooms in the United States, Knot Standard has become one of the biggest consumers of high-end wools from the likes of Loro Piana and Zegna, and the company carries reams of fabrics spanning a variety of price points. At the showroom, style consultants like Miriam are a significant asset. She asked about my workplace, current wardrobe and what I was looking for. But then she pushed me – gently – towards slightly edgier designs on the margins of my comfort zone. Noting that I wear suits almost exclusively, she suggested a blazer, and brought out some plaids and textured solids for me to see.   Once I selected the blazer fabric, she offered a range of options for pants from cotton chinos to silvery wool trousers that offset the navy...

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Behind the Scenes at Trunk Club in DC

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Around DC, Custom tailoring, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

Behind the Scenes at Trunk Club in DC

Menswear styling service Trunk Club has been quietly building out a physical presence across the United States to complement its online subscription offering. Their expansion includes a clubhouse in Washington, DC, where Modern Fellows recently caught up with their team. Founded in 2009 by Bonobos co-founder Brian Spaly and acquired by Nordstrom in the summer of 2014, the company began opening studios with their home base in Chicago. Trunk Club arrived in DC in March 2014, taking up residence on the seventh floor of an unassuming office building at 525 9th Street NW next door to a Shake Shack in Gallery Place. The studio is part office, part warehouse and part fitting room. It houses a small army of Trunk Club’s DC-based stylists while rows of high-end menswear are stacked in a dedicated space in back. For customers, though, the main feature of the studio is a series of fitting and lounge areas designed by select Trunk Club partners. In DC that includes spaces from Billy Reid and Gladson. Allison Smith, director of sales for Trunk Club’s Washington, D.C. Studio, provided a tour and some background on its operations. The process? Make an appointment online via Trunk Club’s website and come in to meet your stylist, who will have hand-picked a series of pieces — everything from button downs, knits and jeans to watches, shoes and off the rack suits — depending on the preferences and price points you convey to your stylist. In addition, the company maintains their own made-to-measure service. Fittings are taken in-house via the same appointment process, and stylists help clients comb through reams of fabric from mills in Italy and the United States. The clothing is then manufacured in Asia and delivered back to the customer in about 6 weeks.  Custom shirts begin at $240, jackets at $960 and suits at $1290. On a daily basis, Trunk Club averages about 25 fittings and consulting sessions with guys. The studio also serves as a gathering place for happy hours, wedding fittings and a slew of assorted characters, including local ball players. (Washington Capitals and Redskins players, Allison said, will come in and reserve these spaces for fittings with teammates and friends.) Trunk Club’s pitch is — essentially — curated quality for busy professionals, and they are willing to bet that busy professionals will pay full retail for the experience. The clothes themselves are more STAG Austin than Nordstrom Rack, and the company takes pride at having a minimal amount of overlapping SKUs with their larger, more mainstream parent. Their website lists brands such as AG, Ben Sherman, Bespoken, Billy Reid, Bonobos, Fidelity, Life/After/Denim, Maximum Henry, Oak Street Bootmakers and Theory as examples of those that you might find in your trunk or at a clubhouse.  Others, like Richmond-based Ledbury in DC and To Boot New York were in-stock at the DC clubhouse. Those brands come at a cost....

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Trading Snow Boots and Parkas for Oxfords and Unlined Blazers

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Around DC, Custom tailoring, Entrepreneurs | 0 comments

Trading Snow Boots and Parkas for Oxfords and Unlined Blazers

The calendar says spring and it is finally starting to feel like it. Time to trade heavy winter jackets and functional snow boots for new shoes and clothes. Here is what Modern Fellows is looking forward to as the weather brightens. The thing about winter is the weather often necessitates function over form. Who in their right mind would put on an unlined, patch pocket blazer (above) courtesy of Knot Standard’s new DC showroom when the thermometer is hovering around the freezing mark? Who wants to wear this amazing new pair of oxfords from the Left Shoe Company when the ground is caked with salt and pocked with slushy puddles?   Now that spring has sprung, it’s easy to warm to new collections from the likes of Black Lapel, which just published a new lookbook to coincide with the release of a dapper spring/summer 2015 line that includes the blue windowpane suit with shadow check pictured above. And to Unsimply Stitched, whose President Alex Hendeles recently released a bright and cheery new line of socks for the season, including a series of interesting layered polka dot selections pictured below, which he sent along to Modern Fellows to try. Forget New Year’s resolutions. My spring resolution is to turn out some new clothes and kicks that prize form as much as function — and to write about the experiences. This post is part of a series in collaboration with Details’ new social media hub, #Mydetails. Disclosure: Modern Fellows has received merchandise at no cost from Black Lapel, Knot Standard, the Left Shoe Company and Unsimply...

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Getting to Know the New Knot Standard

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Around DC, Custom tailoring, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 1 comment

Getting to Know the New Knot Standard

Knot Standard feels like a classic tailor updated for the digital age. After evolving several times since it began five years ago, founders John Ballay and Matt Mueller seem to have found their groove, offering a seamless experience and quality product online and across an expanding series of showrooms scattered throughout the United States and Dubai. Modern Fellows’ readers receive a 15% discount online for first time customers via this link and code MODERNFELLOWS at checkout. First-time customers can also receive $250 off a blazer or suit in-store by mentioning code MODERN FELLOWS when making an appointment.  The company offers two entry points for customers. Online, the company offers made-to-measure suiting via processes similar to competitors such as Black Lapel and Indochino at prices that begin at around $500. In person, where suit prices begin at just under $800, personal stylists offer a more in-depth custom experience, guiding men through measurements, a broader range of fabrics and impressive bespoke details. Given their recent journey, Knot Standard seems poised to take up the mantle dropped by Astor and Black when it went under – a reputation for quality fabrics and great fit stylists at a reasonable though by no means rock bottom prices. About Knot Standard Co-founded by entrepreneurs John and Matt, pictured above during an interview on ABC News’ Real Biz, Knot Standard began in Dubai, where both men were living at the time.  John was selling custom cowboy boots while Matt was running a medical technology operation for a major U.S. university. The two took their made-to-measure suiting concept internationally in 2012, and went through several iterations before settling on their current model.  Those early years resulted in some growing pains, which are still evident today on customer review sites like Yelp. The two have since changed their approach – now offering a simplified online custom ordering experience and a more comprehensive in-person option for those living near their network of showrooms while prioritizing stellar customer service for both – and their tailoring process. Knot Standard also offers what it calls Knot Standard Private – a business-to-business play that makes dapper uniforms that coordinate that looks similar but where each piece isn’t exactly the same.  They’re outfitting sports teams, hotels and private clubs with suits, belts, ties and cufllinks.  “It’s wildly successful,” Matt offered, “It’s the new letter jacket” for colleges. Ordering online at Knotstandard.com The website is the introduction to the company for most of Knot Standard’s customers.  “We take a guy who is used to buying Brooks Brothers and show him the same or better fabrics and something that fits way better,” says Matt. Online, the process is straightforward for the customer but is souped up under the hood with unique technology that aims to help get the fit as close as possible to perfect. You can enter your measurements manually or via their unique...

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Not Just Another Tie: 6 Stylish Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Advice & Resources, Around DC, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

Not Just Another Tie: 6 Stylish Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

For a unique, thoughtful present, reach beyond the mall. Modern Fellows offers its 2014 menswear gift guide. 1. Uncover an interesting accessory There are a range of startups poised to help fill a guy’s stocking this year.  Beltology features funky herringbone belts that pair well with jeans; Jay Butler sports crocodile money clips and ostrich billfolds; and the Gentleman’s Gazette shop can set you up with retro-inspired handmade boutonniere silk flowers, collar pins and bars, and grenadine ties. 2. Use a platform to find something personal While online platforms are largely targeted at and frequented by women, there is a growing selection of small batch and customizable gifts for men on sites such as Etsy — where Modern Fellows serves as a tastemaker — and relative newcomer Hatch.  The latter offers a list of customizable gifts for guys from cufflinks to a Personalized Double Edge Safety Razor Set with Shaving Brush, Blades, & Soap. 3. Arrange an online custom experience Suits and shirts can be tough sells for Christmas. Style and fit are personal and often difficult to nail even with the right collar, cuff and suit sizes in hand.  Give the gift of a custom suit or shirt experience by pairing a gift card from online nationwide made-to-measure suiting standout Black Lapel or impressive shirtmaker Proper Cloth with an accessory from their online collections, or try Knot Standard or Proper Suit if they offer fittings in your recipient’s neck of the woods. 4. Hats aren’t just for hipsters Hats are making a comeback, and Goorin Bros. is leading the way. With a nationwide network of hat shops — including one in Washington, DC — gift-givers can find everything from a fedora to more subtle flat caps and knit hats — all made in the USA. 5. A necktie, but not any necktie Some guys actually like getting ties.  Skip the Macys sale bin for Sam Hober, whose craftsmen and women can stitch a custom-made necktie from a variety of fabrics and weaves at whatever length and width you choose. Act soon, though, since turnaround takes a few weeks. If you’d prefer to order from a U.S.-based merchant, visit e-commerce newcomer TM Stock. 6. If all else fails, choose a one-stop shop Having trouble deciding? Try browsing a one stop shop like Richmond-based Ledbury or Raleigh-based Lumina Clothing for inspiration — or a gift card. For those in the DMV, Ledbury is hosting its second annual pop up holiday shop in Georgetown.  For retailers with a national brick-and-mortar presence, Nordstrom and Bonobos are good options, or have a look at British-based catalog retailer Boden, which is making a big push into the United States and has expanded its selection of menswear. Want more ideas? See these Modern Fellows guides — 7 Made-in-America gift ideas 5 gift ideas for dad and 5 modern takes on...

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A Review of the PROPERSUIT Made-to-Measure Suit

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Around DC, Custom tailoring, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

A Review of the PROPERSUIT Made-to-Measure Suit

The entrepreneurs behind Chicago-based Proper Suit put a premium on customer service, having evolved their business model from online made-to-measure to an in-person only approach that aims to guarantee a perfect fit and inviting experience.

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DC-Based Boldfoot Socks Launches Via Kickstarter

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Around DC, Entrepreneurs, Made in America, Modern Fellows | 1 comment

DC-Based Boldfoot Socks Launches Via Kickstarter

Modern Fellows caught up with entrepreneur Brad Christmann, who took his Washington, DC-based sock venture Boldfoot live this week and quickly surpassed his initial fundraising target. Brad, a District-area native – he grew up in Silver Spring – has been fine-tuning the concept and construction of his line of colorful men’s socks for the past year and a half.

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Behind Collared Greens’ Refreshing American-Made Menswear Line, a Focus on Sustainability

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Around DC, Entrepreneurs, Made in America, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

Behind Collared Greens’ Refreshing American-Made Menswear Line, a Focus on Sustainability

Collared Greens ain’t subtle.  The young company is cranking out a bright and bold line of American-made neck and bow ties, polos, pocket squares, and other takes on classic menswear staples.  It is also on the move, recently transferring its headquarters to up-and-coming fashion destination Richmond and expanding its presence online and through menswear shops nationally and internationally. Their story dates back to 2008, when co-founder Randy Ashton convinced Jeremy Bull and Dalton Grein to move out to Sun Valley, Idaho to start building up his idea for a sustainable menswear brand. “The original idea was to start a clothing company with the purpose of raising money for conservation,” said Jeremy, who spoke to Modern Fellows recently.  “We’re all outdoor minded and wish we could make more of a difference, but when you’re young and of limited means it’s hard to do much.  Collard Greens would be a vehicle for funding conservation efforts.” Jeremy – who graduated from college in 2005, worked on a ranch and then as a financial advisor in Charleston – seems like an unlikely candidate to be selling neckwear and belts. His passion – sustainability and conservation – is evident in the company’s focus on sustainability. “Each year we donate 1 percent of gross revenues to 3 or 4 environmental organizations of our fans choosing,” Jeremy notes. The company also started the CG/24 Conservation Project, to which it devotes an additional 1 percent of profits, and has partnered with a company called Native Energy to help offset their carbon footprint. Photo credit: Collared Greens As for the clothes themselves, “Silk is inherently organic,” Jeremy says, “but the dying process isn’t.” Collared Greens use vegetable-based dies as often as it can in its ties. “We also use recycled materials in our packaging and eliminate plastics where we can in the process,” he notes. “We’re not perfect but we give it an honest effort.” The company’s focus – updated, bright takes on classic American design – is refreshing.  Collared Greens sent over a light blue and pink striped “Carolina” necktie as well as a cozy (both pictured) for the purpose of a review. [The cozy is cradling a delicious Sweet Josie brown ale from Lonerider Beer in Raleigh, North Carolina.] The vibe – cozy and all – is playful, and the tie wears well. The woven silk isn’t heavily treated, and lacks the weird sheen of many department store ties.  It’s nicely textured and, with a blade that measures three inches in width, is not too skinny or fat. Like the suit? It’s from Dragon Inside. Jeremy notes that the company is looking to grow its line methodically by about one new product per season while also expanding the depth and breadth of existing offerings. “We’re big proponents of the idea that slow and steady growth is sustainable growth,” he says. “Particularly...

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Getting to Know Nice Laundry and Their Exceptionally Nice Socks

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in Around DC, Entrepreneurs, Modern Fellows | 0 comments

Getting to Know Nice Laundry and Their Exceptionally Nice Socks

It has been a whirlwind couple of months for Ricky Choi and Phil Moldavski, the Living Social alumni behind the Washington, DC-based menswear staples startup Nice Laundry. Since launching their company on Kickstarter in August 2013, the two have nearly sold out of their initial production run — a lot sooner than they thought — following a strong crowd-funding drive that raised more than three times its target goal. Modern Fellows sat down with Phil and Ricky at Filter coffee in Dupont to discuss their successful Kickstarter campaign, the emergence of direct-to-consumer retail and building brand loyalty for a low-value product. The two arrived with a package of socks – their Dreamer pack — which they provided at no cost. It is nice to see entrepreneurship alive and well in Washington, and even nicer when the product is so strong. Having reviewed a dozen brands of socks over the past several months, Nice Laundry’s offerings are among the strongest combination of looks, comfort and fit around.  The colors are bright but well-balanced, the cotton is medium weight and comfortable, and the socks stay up around mid-calf all day.  All of the pairs they provided are in heavy rotation. What led you to start Nice Laundry? Ricky: The idea was born out of a personal pain point. When I first met Phil at Living Social, I thought, here’s a guy who pays attention to how he dresses. Nice shoes, good pair of jeans and button down shirt. But everyday, he would wear these same white gym socks with his dark shoes and dark jeans. It just didn’t help him achieve the look that he was going for. I’ve always been a big sock guy. When I felt I knew him well enough, I convinced him to buy one pair of colorful, cool socks. He paid twenty-something-dollars for them. He threw them on and got some compliments, and then the next morning, he woke up to that same bleak, white-colored sock drawer. Phil: Then I spent hundreds of dollars and months trying to refresh my whole sock drawer. At some point we looked at each other and said, there has to be a better way of doing this. The margins for socks have been artificially inflated for a long time. We’re seeing a lot of innovation when it comes to eyeglasses with Warby Parker and disposable razors with the Dollar Shave Club. We thought we could do socks better. Nice Laundry emerged with a very successful debut on Kickstarter. Looking back, how would you assess the launch? Ricky: There really is a paradigm shift in how an inventory-based business can launch. Kickstarter essentially acted as a pre-order mechanism and helped us assess demand. It’s awesome for a company like ours. Our target was $30K and we wound up raising about $120,000, so some of that excess helped...

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