In anticipation of the arrival of Michael Andrews Bespoke in the nation’s capital later this month, Modern Fellows spoke to its founder and CEO about Washington’s suit culture, the feel of the new space, and MAB’s typical clients. The official grand opening of their DC showroom at 1604 17th Street NW, between Q and Corcoran, is October 24 though they are already scheduling appointments. And they are throwing a party the evening of October 23.
To follow is a lightly-edited transcript of the conversation with Michael.
Why did you choose DC as your second location?
Washington is a very good market. It has a strong suit culture and a bit of a southern feel. I’m from Atlanta and so I feel comfortable there. It’s also a matter of proximity. We wanted to go to a place that was easily accessible without sacrificing service in New York. It is also easy for our new staff to commute back and forth from DC to NY. Our General Manager for DC has been in training in NY for a month.
What kind of a vibe will the new space have?
We picked a beautiful space on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a former residential brownstone. It is smaller and more intimate than our current space in New York. We’ve really been able to take this space and transform it exactly as we wanted to, which we’ve never been able to do before, which was kind of fun. It has a homey feel that we have tried to embrace in the design. We ripped out the kitchen and converted it to the bar. Our main sales area is this beautiful dining room table with a chandelier hanging over it. There’s a fireplace up there with some warm club chairs. Over on the side of the room there is a big plush velvet sofa. On the 3rd floor is where the tailors’ shop and fitting room will be. We made it out to look like a library. There is a gorgeous fitting room.
How would you describe your clientèle?
Our client on the whole is probably transitioning from high-quality off-the-rack suits. We have a number of clients who wore nicer off-the-rack brands and figured out that if they’re going to spend up to $2,000 for a quality suit, you can get a comparable quality, fully custom garment for that. It’s less guys who are already in more affordable made-to-measure and then moving up the food chain. Our clients tend to be individuals who are already spending for high quality ready-to-wear and they have figured out that they can get the same thing through us.
Are you thinking about growth beyond Washington at this point?
Our growth plans are simply to grow as big and as quickly as we possibly can without sacrificing a single bit of customer service. That could mean twenty locations, or it could mean two. I look forward to the chance to scale this into future locations, but right now our focus is making sure that our clients in DC get the same level of service that our New York clients are getting, and that our New York clients continue to get the same level of quality that they’re used to. We’re not going to sacrifice the level of service that we can deliver in the name of growth.
Photos courtesy of Michael Andrews Bespoke
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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2 thoughts on “Behind Michael Andrews’ Expansion into DC, a Market Opportunity and Southern Roots”
I sought a real tailor for competent alterations, in the Washington DC area. My search using “tailor” as a key word led me to Michael Andrews Bespoke. I was intrigued by the high quality of the website and, as I read, I was further pleased by their straight forward approach to what was offered. The products and prices were made clear. Michael Andrews Bespoke quickly revealed they have the skills to meet one’s style requirements no matter where those requirements fall ranging from Tom Ford to something from this year’s Piti Uomo. Their web site shows right away they are ready to clothe the young upwardly mobile professional. Do not be deterred, I am a comfortably retired gent of a certain age, and, after answering all of my very detailed questions, they created exactly what I wanted. I chose their “Ultimo” which is their top line item – a bespoke offering, although they do a very satisfying MTM. Their Ultimo includes 3 fittings with a try –on mock-up of expendable cloth used to create a personal pattern for me. This process included about 32 individual measurements in my case. When the mock-up was ready I was most impressed with it. Michael Andrews, (the owner who is also an expert at fitting – like an old school cutter) studied it while I was wearing it and chalked it up in a few places. He then explained what his marks meant and that those mark-ups adjusted the pattern from which the tailor would work. We spent about 30 minutes in this fitting. I was absolutely not rushed and all my concerns were addressed with sincerity not condescension. This amount of detailed give and take had not occurred previously in Bangkok, nor Baltimore and sadly not even on Savile Row. About 14 days later I returned for my second fitting. The suit, at that point was almost complete and fit my demanding requirements perfectly. Many (American) men think a suit fits if they can button the jacket and the sleeves and trouser legs are somewhere in the ball park. I think they would want more from a suit, if they knew what to look for. When the suit was completely finished I picked it up and the final try-on was a dream. Michael Andrews “over-delivered”! I felt better in this suit than in any previous bespoke product, including my suit from the ‘Row’. At that visit I ordered two more suits and will order many more after that. The fabric selection is vast, not just for suits but also for odd jackets, trousers, top coats and shirts. The advice and recommendation were top drawer. Michael Andrews is now my go to tailor.
I completely missed this… definitely have to stop by soon. By the way, awesome DC-based style website! It’s nice to see fellow DC-ers representing our city.
And yes, GQ was wrong. DC has stepped it up considerably in the past few years.