It’s finally here!
I live in Baltimore and about eight years ago, I got in my car and headed south to Washington, DC. I knew why I was going, but wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to go. I didn’t realize until many years later just how significant this trip would be.
I was headed down to DC because a custom clothing company from New York I had read about and heard really great things about was setting up shop in DC and was offering a nice discount for first-time DC clients. This was during the very beginning of He Spoke Style and at a time when I really started to get serious about developing my wardrobe and investing in it. It seemed like a good trip to make.
I parked just off Dupont Circle and walked a few blocks to a small townhouse. I rang the doorbell, was buzzed in, and taken upstairs to the second floor. There, I was greeted by a very elegant room. Dark hardwood floors, slate grey walls, a fireplace, a couch, a few perfectly placed rugs, a single table with four chairs around it, a couple tailor busts elegantly styled, a wet bar, and a hutch stocked with fabric books. Next, a gentleman came in, shook my hand, and we sat down together at the table. This was my first time meeting Mike of Michael Andrews.
My First Michael Andrews Bespoke Suit
Now, remember this was kind of the beginning of me seriously getting into men’s style and actually only my second time doing a custom suit. Which is to say I was not prepared at all. I kind of knew what I wanted, but not really, and when it came to all the details I was just overwhelmed. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that a lot of things, I didn’t even know what they were. So my appointment took a little bit of time-probably more time than Mike was used to spending with a single client who was going to buy one suit and two shirts.
I finally decided on a brown donegal tweed three-piece suit with a notch lapel, flap pockets, suede elbow patches (something I’d wanted since my undergraduate days), a double vent, and side adjusters on the trousers with a two-inch cuff. For shirts, I did a blue micro-stripe and another with a blue and brown double stripe.
I loved that suit when I got it. I got it just in time for the fall/winter season of that year. We featured it many times on the He Spoke Style website, showing its versatility. It’s a suit still in my rotation; the tweed jacket you’ve seen frequently on the channel is the jacket from that suit.
My Custom Suit Journey
Over the years as I continued growing HSS, I had the opportunity to try many different made-to-measure and custom suit programs. Some were really well known, some were online-only, others were small shops-pretty much the gamut of what was available. But, one constant throughout all that time was I always kept coming back to MAB.
The other products were okay, but usually there was something about the product I just couldn’t get past. It would come in too small or short despite a rigorous measuring process. Some of the programs have a complete lack of control over certain things sort of non-negotiable for me, like lapel width or having a cap on how wide you could make the cuff on the trousers.
And then there was the fact a lot of these companies seemed kind of faceless. Maybe they advertised the “personal attention” you’d get, but part of the joy of the sartorial world is the relationships you create with the people responsible for making your clothing. You don’t want the process to be simply transactional. It should be about sharing a passion for style and the craft of tailored clothing. To be honest, the ‘holy grail’ is getting to a point where you can just tell “your guy” what you want and then expect that, with little to no input from you, he knows exactly what that is and you are completely satisfied when the garment is delivered.
That is why MAB was different for me, and it’s one of the reasons I kept going to them so consistently over the years. Michael Andrews was-and still is-a relatively small team of warm, caring, passionate, and just plain nice people. All my favorite suits were from MAB. I’d never experienced such a personal level of customer attention. They’d remember birthdays, anniversaries, and it wasn’t just like some bot sent me an email-Cory and Mike would literally text me to let me know they had remembered.
Because of the synergy and the way our values aligned-caring about quality, caring about the people we connected with-it was about two years ago we started having conversations about partnering in a more meaningful and lasting way.
Michael Andrews has a great product I personally love, but aside from a few regular trunk shows here and there in a handful of cities and the showroom in New York, they only had an in-person experience. That made it very difficult for the people who followed me and He Spoke Style to see what it was all about. To add to it, they were only offering a bespoke garment, which meant the price was higher than I knew many of you were comfortable with.