Custom Clothier Helps Men Build Their Look
By Colette Linton
SARATOGA SPRINGS—Clothes shopping is more complicated than the conventional retail store lets on. The reality is, is that the range of body types isn’t so easily categorized into small, medium and large and preferences for patterns, colors and comforts are not to be taken for granted.
Dress clothes for work and professional flair are another make and model too, tending to be on the more expensive side and more difficult to fudge the shortcomings of the seams without making the additional trip to a tailor.
“For me and my height, it’s either the clothes are too short and I have to wear them low around the waist,” said Dr. Marc Johnson, a dentist in Saratoga Springs . “Or the sleeves are too short, and so I buy my shirts big.”
Aimee Taylor, clothier and stylist, brings to Saratoga Springs the J. Hillburn brand, a fast growing luxury men’s clothing company. She met with Dr. Johnson to build an order that would suit him with a measure-made product to reflect his tastes, lifestyle and his comfort needs.
“It’s frustrating because instead of buying what you like, you buy what fits,” Dr. Johnson said about his typical shopping experience. “In men’s clothing, we don’t have a lot of fun options: it’s usually blue suit, (and) white shirt.”
“As for dress shirts, yeah, I can find something that fits me, but something that’s tailor-made with colors isn’t going to happen,” he said. “So, it’s (building an order) opened up a lot more options for me.”
When Taylor meets with a potential customer for a consultation, she brings more than just her background in the fashion industry, she comes with swatch samples of the real make of the fabric, ready to take measurements and to discuss all the details of the first fitted shirt, which can be personalized with details including (and not limited to) collar, cuffs, pockets, pleats, patterns, color, stitch (color and type), shirt, suit, jacket and or trousers.
“It appeals to me that the styles and fashions are unique and that the patterns and fabrics are kinds that you can’t get off the shelf,” Dr. Johnson said. “Also, it’s that I can get clothes that fit me and my body instead of getting something and trying to make it fit.”
“There are a lot of men that are not ‘off-the-rack sizes',” Taylor said. “Men, just like women, come in all shapes and sizes and ‘off-the-rack’ just doesn’t necessarily work for everybody,” Taylor said.
Taylor grew up in the fashion industry with her grandfather and his siblings’ manufacturing plant. “As a child I have these fabulous memories of the cutting tables with fabric-layered ties and big patterns and them tracing it with the chalk,” she recalls.
Since then, not the entrepreneurial fire nor the fixation on fabrics ever left her she said. After graduating with a marketing degree from Bentley College in Boston, one of her projects was starting several fabric businesses that were more related to women and building customized purses and pocket books.
“It’s kind of like I’ve already done this,” she said of her expertise in the field of fashion and her confidence in creating a fitting match for her customer.
“With a client, my goal is to help them develop a professional and a social wardrobe that fits their personal style,” she said. “When it’s made for you it’s a completely different feel than an ‘off-the-rack’ shirt and that’s really what the difference is.”
J. Hilburn was founded in 2007 and its product categories include custom shirts, personalized suits and sport coats, made-to-measure trousers, and formalwear.
The ready-to-wear line includes sweaters, polo shirts, outerwear, ties, pocket squares, cuff links, belts, socks and the list goes on.
The custom experience begins with a consultation, when Taylor learns of the client’s preference and takes measurements to help him build the first custom shirt.
That first shirt is selected from hundreds of high-end fabric choices. Once the client has been measured, he can continue to order his custom shirts through in-person meetings or he can build and re-order his shirts online. Custom shirts are delivered in three to four weeks and prices range from $99 to $160.
“So those are the basic choices, but again that’s what really makes it custom and really makes it yours and any shirt that is made to your measurements for you, is going to fit for you,” Taylor said. “And the better it fits, the better it’s going to feel, the more confident you are for the day.”