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.
Much has been written about SuitSupply's racks of stylish duds and hip salesmen, who seem to genuinely enjoy helping men find something a bit more advanced than what they thought they wanted. Measurements and tailoring are done on location – our favorite being the middle of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport – and suits are prepared quickly, making SuitSupply the natural choice for anyone who has to look good at a meeting tomorrow. But one aspect of the brand's model receives less praise than it rightly deserves: The in-store tailors do a great job of altering suits brought in from the street and don't charge exorbitant prices.
This service allows in-the-know dressers to turn off-the-rack suits into tightly tailored statement pieces. Rather than being limited to any one store's selection of fabrics, men are free to peruse department stores, boutiques, and even thrift stores before getting their look sharpened up with narrowed collar, tightened shoulders, and a bit of lower-leg taper – touches that make a profound difference in a suit's first impression. Old suits that get the SuitSupply treatment are entirely reinvigorated.
SuitSupply may not have a crew of wandering tailors, but it is probably the first suit-making chain to offer a high-quality service and it is expanding rapidly. The speed of the service has introduced instant gratification to the field.
Cost: In-store tailors charge by task. Tapering costs $17 while narrowing a suit's shoulders cost $75. On average, men who bring suits in can probably expect to spend a little north of $100. New suits start at around $469.
Convenience: SuitSupply is a great spot for guerilla shoppers – men who like to get in and get out. The brand is also expanding at a dizzying rate. SuitSupply stores have already sprung up in New York; Philadelphia; Washington D.C.; Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Denver; and Seattle – not to mention Beijing and Riga, Latvia.