It makes sense that one of the biggest and most fashionable cities in the world would have a number of bespoke options for the stylish man - the only trouble with New York custom fashion tailors is narrowing down your choices. However, if price is not too much of a concern, you can get absolutely anything you want and you know it will fit to perfection.
Finding New York Custom Fashion Tailors
Back in the day, the challenge was finding ready-to-wear shops. Even little boys had their clothes made at the tailors, and tailoring was a busy and respectable profession. These days, it's certainly still respectable, but instead of being the common thing, it's high end. A custom fashion tailor is not the same thing as the tailor at your dry cleaners, who is great for doing the hems on your trousers or replacing a zipper. When you're talking about having dress shirts and silk suits made for you by hand, that's something else again.
Searching for the Perfect Tailor
You can look for New York custom fashion tailors, or you can look for bespoke tailors. "Bespoke" is a slightly old-fashioned term for custom-made clothing, more common in Britain than America, but still used here, especially by some of the most high-end tailors.
One top-rated bespoke tailor is Duncan Quinn in Nolita (there is also a store in West Hollywood). He does put the "high" in high-end, as his suits start at around $3,500 and go up from there, but they are exquisite and there is nothing he doesn't know about the history of men's suits and styling. You take part in the design, choosing the fabric (only the best), lining and cut, and they work with you so that what you end up with is flattering in both look and fit, as well as comfortable. They consider a bespoke suit to be a combination of art and science, and an opportunity for the wearer to either reflect his personality through his suit, or hide it, as he wishes. Moreover, depending on his busy schedule, a customer doesn't have to go down to the store himself for measurements or fittings - he can arrange for the tailor to come to him.
In the Lower East Side, there is Michael Andrews Bespoke. His prices are lower than Duncan Quinn's and some happy customers who have done comparison shopping swear that his work is finer. Obviously, it's all a matter of personal taste, but people are thrilled with the fabric selections, hand tailoring and artistry, as well as the customer service.
Customers also rave about Alexander West in TriBeCa. This is strictly for shirts and cufflinks, and some happy wearers have sworn they'll never go back to mass production shirts again. You select your fabric from swatches and receive plenty of advice as to what will suit you. Then you try on shirts from samples and once you're pleased, you can order one or a dozen, as you like and can afford. He will also come to see you if you can't make it to the shop.
This being New York, custom fashion tailors who specialize in a retro style can also be found, although you may have to compete with stage costumers to get what you want. Nevertheless, if you're in the East Village, head over to DL Cerney on 7th Street for retro-styled suits and shirts. Most of what's on offer is pre-made, although they design and sew it themselves. However, you can arrange to have a suit or shirt cut specifically to your figure as well.
The Addictive Power of Custom
Sure, it costs more than what you'll spend at the basic chain shop, but custom-made clothes will look and feel better, so that you might not want to wear anything else. They should also last longer, especially if you keep them well. You'll find that you don't need a lot of clothes, you just need a few well-made items that look great and are very much just yours.