Visiting the tailor can be a bit intimidating. He sizes you up sartorially when you walk through the door and literally a few minutes later – an awfully intimate process given the unfamiliar surroundings. Haberdashers have long tried to settle customers' nerves with drink, but many men (read: American men) still retreat to the department store and the comfort of boxy, off-the-rack suits. That problem is being solved by a group of new-school sellers of an old-school service: on-demand tailoring. These companies take the time and stress out of bespoke suiting by making house and office calls, empowering men to measure themselves, and altering store-bought suits into more flattering silhouettes. In each case, the investment – in terms of time and money – is remarkably low given the on-trend dividends. That's reason enough to cancel your annual appointment with that Hong Kong-based tailor who swings through town once a year to empty your wallet.
The suits offered by these companies vary from the flashy to the extremely conservative, but each company offers to create a more complimentary product and to make the whole process pleasant – if not enjoyable. And having fun with it is part of the high-end suiting process; it has been since the first British trader stumbled down Savile Row with a highball in hand.
Here are the best of the new breed.
The gang at Alton Lane knows how to make you feel as though you are spending a million bucks without demanding the cash. These stylish lads will ply you with southern hospitality – the founders met at the University of Virginia – and righteous whiskey as you pour over thousands of fabric samples in their finely appointed showrooms in New York; Washington, D.C.; Boston; and Dallas (opening soon.) Like Arden Reed, Alton Lane's tailors will take a digital scan of your body, building a sort of perverted topographical map. Then, just to make sure, they'll double check the computer data by hand. Always thorough, they will help you wade through all the options you could ever want before they send your order to the tailor in Hong Kong.
While suits made of Super100 fabrics run for a little under $600, we recommend upgrading to a finer Black Label weave. The extra money will seem like an investment in a few years time, when the suit looks as good as new. And no, Alton Lane doesn't do double-breasted coats. If you ask, the brand's turned-out employees will offer you nothing but a wan smile.
Unlike most of the other suit makers in this roundup, Alton Lane does not send out tailors. That said, once they have your scan on file, the process of getting a suit is as simple as updating your information – informing the brand that you've been working out or enjoying a few too many beers.
Cost: Suits range from $595 to more than $10,000. We recommend starting closer to the bottom of that expansive range.
Convenience: Visiting Alton Lane's stores is more pleasurable than convenient since the process can take a little time. The tailors' thoroughness is worth it though, especially if you are visiting from out of town. This suit is unlikely to need adjusments.