You may not have realized it yet, but the world is running low on great tailors. Don’t expect to see 100 people each claiming to be a custom tailor standing in the unemployment office. It’s just that there aren’t enough to go around.
While you there might be a handful of tailors just a stone’s throw from your living room window, they’re not all great. While there’s never been more demand for a custom tailor, there aren’t enough great tailors around.
That means when you choose to get work done by a tailor, you need to make sure you’re getting the best. To find the cream of the crop, you first need to know what you’re looking for.
When you’re out in search of a tailor, you’ll need to keep track of five important qualities.
But before we get to that, what do you know about men’s style??
What You Need to Know before You Start Looking
How well do you know men’s style? Do you buy off of the rack or do you ask for suggestions from concierge? Do your friends ask you to shop with them for your good advice?
If you can’t answer these questions confidently, you need to study up on men’s style. Spend some time reading about menswear, the 20th-century history of suit cuts, and what’s in style now. The last thing you want to do is show up to a fashion-forward tailor with an 80s idea of men’s suits.
Your style communicates who you are and what you bring to the table. If you have a type-A personality, your classic style will show that to people. If you’re more of a creative type, small accents can make a simple suit alluring and mysterious.
Know what a tailor can do for you. If you fit well into clothes off the rack, then you’ve got the one in a million body type that the designer imagined for that piece of clothing. Otherwise, you’ll probably need a custom suit tailored.
Once you’ve got an idea of what you hope to get from a tailor, start looking for tailors in your area. Read any reviews you can find on Yelp, Google, Yahoo or your favorite search engine.
After you get your shortlist of who you want to work with, you can start thinking about the qualities that a custom tailor should have.
1. Strong Communication Skills
Every tailor needs to be able to communicate with you. Whether or not they share your native language, they should be easy enough to understand. Most importantly, they need to know what you want.
If it feels like your tailor isn’t interested in serving you the way you want, you might want to consider someone else. Conversely, you need to be flexible in your ideas of what the tailor can do. If you’re asking to make $30 worth of adjustments to a $40 shirt, your tailor should be able to talk you down from the ledge.
They may often be a little rushed but they should also treat your business like it’s worth their time. Don’t mistake efficiency for rudeness. But if you’re not treated like you think you deserve, think about moving on.
Don’t mistake the advice of sales clerks for the expertise of a custom tailor. A knowledgeable tailor should quickly make you confident in their abilities. They will also share with you the limits of their abilities.
Their communication skills should help to boost your confidence in them.
2. What Your Custom Tailor Wants
They should be clear about what they need from you. If you are picking out fabric for a custom suit, they need to be able to put aside time. Your tailor should want you to be satisfied.
Your tailor could always make a mistake or misunderstand you. But their approach to a mistake is very telling of their ability to take feedback. It also tells you how much they appreciate your business.
Your concept of what makes a perfect fit is going to be different than the last person who walked out their door and the next person who walks in. A great tailor knows that your comfort and confidence come first. They should show you they want you to be happy.
Does your tailor ask you questions about what you want? Do they ask you about what kind of work you do? These questions inform what you might be looking for and show the tailor is working to find your perspective.
3. A Tailor Who Understands Fashion
Never assume that your tailor knows about men’s fashion.
Your tailor should be able to understand timeless fashion styles and discern them from trends. If you’re thinking about adding a trendy accent to a classic suit jacket, your tailor should be aware of that.
While a great tailor is an architect of constructing a suit from seemingly thin air, they likely have a different eye than you do. If they come from another culture than yours or another continent entirely, they probably have ideas informed by that region.
If you’re working with an older tailor from East Asia, they might have a very different concept of what works today. Go with classic styles the first time you work with a custom tailor so that you’re sure to walk away happy.
4. Efficiency Is Number One
Great tailors are rare and so their dance card is often full. You might see your tailor ask for a month or more to get your project done.
Of course, you want your garment in your hands ASAP but that’s not always possible. Communicate as clearly as possible what you need so that your custom tailor can respond accurately.
If you’re having a clothing emergency, your tailor will likely accommodate however possible. They know the value of trust and loyalty that can be built that way.
5. Finished Products
Custom tailors who are worth working for should want to show off their work. Likely, they’ll have some recently finished work, a physical or online portfolio or some product that was never picked up.
Ask if you can take a look at what they have. Look closely at the stitching and the shape of any patterns. You’ll be able to see how much care your custom tailor puts into a project.
Choose a Tailor with Confidence
Once you’ve ticked off all the boxes, you should be able to be confident in your selection. Price is obviously going to be a factor, so make sure you ask about it up front. Sticker shock will leave you feeling dissatisfied right off the bat.
If you have any more questions about how to find the perfect custom tailor, contact us today!