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 advise on fabric — he remarked that the fabric on a suit I brought in from Italian suitmaker Lanieri was “very high quality” — and construction.
Most importantly, you walk out confident about the workmanship and with the knowledge that you clothes fit right. Isn’t that the point?
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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