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.
Astor & Black
An Ohio-based suiting service bent on offering American men the Savile Row experience, Astor & Black deploys "Professional Clothiers" to its customers' homes and offices. These experts – there are currently 92 – go through a remarkably thorough 28-point process to perfect fit then show off a wide variety of fabric swatches. The service is a bit flash and perfect for men who want to add a bit more flavor to their wardrobe, making it a better fit if you're dressing for parties than for the board room. That said, the party had better be next month. Not content to assume its tailors nailed the fit right out of the gate, Astor & Black has its clothiers personally deliver each suit and make absolutely sure everything is in order. If there are any lingering concerns, the company adjusts the information it keeps on file and the clothier brings the suit to a local tailor for adjustment.
Of all the affordable bespoke suiters, Astor & Black provides the most stylish service. If you want to be pampered, this is likely your best option – especially if you get lucky with a great clothier. Given that American office workers traditionally order in more junk food than they do tailors, having one of A & B's efficient professionals swing by your desk might cause a bit of a stir. Then again, maybe that's the point.
Cost: Because A & B offers such a wide range of fabrics, its suits come in a very wide variety of prices. Expect to pay around $800, depending on whether you go with the Zegna.
Convenience: This is a decidedly high-end service and is not well-suited (zing!) to anyone who doesn't live in a major city.