“Every man — I don’t care who it is — needs at least one good suit in their closet,” Michael Andrews tells me from the personal study in his Noho, Manhattan tailoring studio. He’s wearing a three-piece suit and has his “Bo-Jack” dog — half Boston Terrier, half Jack Russell Terrier — in his lap.
“This idea that you could show up to someone’s wedding in cut-off shorts and flip-flops is, I think, disrespectful.”
Andrews is the founder of an eponymous tailoring studio, Michael Andrews Bespoke, in New York City. Andrews calls himself a “recovering [mergers and acquisitions] lawyer” who wanted to do something different when he opened the studio in 2006.
One of the many things Andrews took away from his time as a lawyer was just how important a suit is. After failing to find exactly the kind of suit he was looking for — a modern slim cut with traditional high-quality fabrics — Andrews decided to create his own service to make one. He moonlighted as a tailor making bespoke garments with a team for a few years before ultimately quitting his job as a lawyer to focus on his business.
“I approach this very much the way I did as an attorney,” Andrews said. “From the time we make the appointment to the time you take your garments home, we’ve executed everything the way we said we were going to do.”
Just as in the legal professional, tailoring requires a certain attention to detail.
“You don’t want to play ‘Where’s Waldo’ with me,” Andrews joked.
The Michael Andrews Bespoke studio is not on a main street. It's tucked into Great Jones Alley, which requires visitors to be buzzed in for access.
The bar is central to the room. Clients are encouraged to grab a drink while they flip through swatches of fabric and rows of buttons that they will choose from to create their bespoke suit.
His shoulders are square, and he's taller than you'd might expect. There's no tape measure draped around his neck or spectacles on his nose.
Of course, Andrews hasn't fit a man in years. The shop now employs about 45 people worldwide, including 15 or 16 in New York and another 30 in the workshop in China where the suits are made. Measuring and alteration is done by staff in New York.
Andrews' clients number around 7,000, according to the founder. Among them are Fortune 500 CEOs, actors and musicians, Wall Street bankers, and those who aspire to be them. Most of these clients are in New York City, but the company travels to both Washington, DC, and the United Arab Emirates to service clients in these destinations a few times a year.
According to Andrews, his company is the largest custom clothier in New York by revenue, based on the amount of luxury cloth they buy from the handful of top-tier providers.
'We move more luxury cloth from this one location than any place in the United States,' Andrews said.
That fee is waived if more than three suits are purchased in the first year. The average two-piece suit runs around $2,500. Different fabrics and customisation options can add up to the tens of thousands. The online collection carries the same prices, minus the pattern fee.
'We get two very very different reactions (to our prices),' Andrews said. 'There are a lot of people who are like, 'Wow that's really expensive,' and there are folks who are accustomed to buying Saville Row, and they're like 'How are you so cheap?''
True bespoke is made by hand with a fully customised and unique pattern made for the individual. Fabrics, linings, buttons, and even stitching can all be selected for a custom, bespoke suit. The same can be chosen for shirts.
A team of four full-time tailors work in New York making minor adjustments to completed suits after the second or third fittings.
This year, Michael Andrews brought on a creative director. Charles Dean will oversee a new fashion-forward collection titled simply 'The Collection.'
The collection is the company's first, and the first time it's suggesting combinations of custom suit features for its clients.
'Our styling was always driven by our clients,' Andrews said. 'We're in the service business. We tended to give our clients what they were asking for without necessarily always putting forward the vision that a designer would each season creating a runway collection that actually moves fashion forward.'
The new collection is a chance to change that, dovetailing with the company opening up an ecommerce business. The ecommerce offerings will not be truly bespoke, but will be as close as is possible through an online store.
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