If you walk around in Manhattan for four or five hours, how many people do you think you’d pass on the street during that time—a thousand? Tens of thousands? Last Wednesday, in town on business, I passed fewer than ten well-dressed men the whole day. It’s almost enough to make a grown man cry. Which is why I am glad a place like Paul Stuart exists.
I had not planned to linger in the store. As it stood, I was late for an interview, and only had time to grab the fall catalog and use the men’s room. Or at least that’s what I told myself before I went in. On the way back down from the men's room, I noticed Paul Stuart’s brand-new custom shop tucked into a mezzanine. Now for those of you who think I’m confusing it with the made-to-measure department they’ve always had—I’m not. The word ‘custom’ has been tossed around a lot lately in places where it has no right to be used, but that isn’t the case here.
The shop is headed up by Mark Rykken, easily one of the best-dressed men in New York, and for years Alan Flusser’s right arm. And yes, this is true bespoke—unlike the made to measure that usually passes for custom in the United States, each customer receives his own individual paper pattern. The fabrics, mostly English, are sumptuous. The house style (which, having your own pattern, you can obviously make adjustments to), is what I call ‘Savile Row Plus,’ meaning it looks more like golden-age Savile Row than most modern Savile Row does. Instead of blindly following the drunken fashion masses, Mr. Rykken’s discerning eye has clearly picked up only what is best from both modern and classic fashion, and mercilessly discarded the rest. This is swank, girl-getting, aristocratic stuff.
Be prepared for at least three fittings (it’ll be worth it). Also be delightfully prepared for a bill that is likely to be not much more than four grand (for a two-piece suit; price depending on fabric). The reasonable pricing is a good excuse to order a second pair of trousers, which is always advisable when buying bespoke. Unless you’re under thirty, it’s like purchasing a guarantee that the suit will last as long as you do.
The playwright George Kaufman once famously said, “I will always remember the year 1937, because in that year I received a suit from a tailor exactly the way I asked for it.” If what I saw last week was any indication, you can get that feeling at the Paul Stuart Custom Shop year-in and year-out.