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.
A clothing titan in the making, J. Hilburn has found a devoted following by offering an unbeatable combination of convenience and selection. Rather than asking that customers be measured by its staff, Hilburn has trained over 2,000 "Style Consultants" around the U.S. and empowered them to meet with clients, who find them through an easy-to-use search engine. What this means for shoppers is that a local expert will swing by at your convenience to get measurements and have a conversation about potential styles. The process is delightfully personal and – presumably due to that fact – yields excellent results. It doesn't hurt that Hilburn suits come in a variety of high-quality Italian fabrics.
Hilburn's patterns also demand a bit of recognition. Though the swatches may not boast the snazziness or reflective quality on offer at SuitSupply, the patterns achieve a rare feat: They are fun without being over the top. A variety of subtle plaids, pinstripes, and thicker wools allow men to look as though they're wearing a truly unique suit without looking like they're wearing a suit that is unique for a reason. The brand's formal wear, particularly the midnight blue tuxedo, is definitely worth a look if you're ready to get serious.
Cost: Suits cost around $800, but, once you see the quality of these clothes, you'll probably end up spending more.
Convenience: Hilburn is the company to beat when it comes to convenience, but it doesn't have consultants absolutely everywhere – just almost everywhere. If you live in South Dakota, you may be out of luck.