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 most tech-oriented of the affordable bespoke crowd, Arden Reed has taken to the streets in a tailoring truck containing a body scanner. Snappy dressers climb into the black caravan after making an online appointment for the day the service is in town and have their measurements recorded via the large device, which was purchased with Kickstarter funds. Once the numbers are crunched, Arden Reed promises its customers, largely a crowd of young professionals, to ship along form-hugging suits.
Arden Reed does conservative suiting extremely well so the brand is a good choice if you're looking for sharp shoulders, subtle pinstripes, and snazzy touches like red detailing on lapel buttonholes. The label's business model is all about repeat business – keeping customers information on file and making subtle adjustments over time – and the quality of the suits brings business back.
Cost: A businesslike charcoal suit will run you $397. The brand doesn't have many options yet, but everything they've got is great.
Convenience: Until Arden Reed has a larger fleet of tailoring trucks, getting measured will require a bit of planning. We expect (and hope) that it won't be long before these bespoke rigs become a common sight.