A custom-made suit can radiate pretentiousness. But a new custom suit maker aims to change that.
"When a customer goes to be fitted for a custom-made suit, there's this stuffy feeling and pretentiousness around the experience," said McGregor J. Madden, co-founder of Proper Suit. "That pretentiousness has nothing to do with the final product. We wanted to take that away and just make great suits."
Madden and his co-founder Richard Hall partnered up while working for a clothing manufacturer in China about four years ago to form Proper Suit, a custom-made suit business that covers about 12 cities nationally.
Their clients range from Washington, D.C. lawyers to stylish grooms across the country. The company currently has a customer base about 1,000 people deep.
Proper Suit also counts Chicago Fire soccer player Daniel Paladini, Jefferson Smith, who is running for mayor of Portland, and 16 Handles founder Solomon Choi among its clients.
"Eighty percent of our business is word of mouth and through referrals," Hall said. "Once our customers get the product in their hands and feel the difference—it's hard to explain—a lot of suit wearers out there don't understand a good suit until they have one."
So what makes the company different than other custom suit makers?
Proper Suit is a six-man operation of specialized tailors, who each cover a specific region of the country. Clients make an appointment for when the Proper Suit tailor will be in town at a pop-up shop. They reserve a time slot with a $150 deposit.
That $150 eventually is applied toward the purchase of the client's suit. Proper Suit has a range of customization options and materials to choose from. Prices for a suit start at $750 and can run to $1,850. Most of the fabric is imported from Italy and then sent to China, where the suits are made.
The most popular starter colors for suits are navy and charcoal. Customers can expect their duds to arrive in four to six weeks.
Another way Proper Suits stands out from its competition is the company uses a computer-based measurement and template system to design the suites. If you've been measured once, you don't really need to come back again for countless measurements. Just call up Proper Suit, explain what you'd like, or send an email of a photo you've seen as inspiration, and Proper Suit will get to work.
"We don't try to hard sell any of our clients," Madden said. "We don't cold call them. When you come into the office, you're going to have a hour conversation with our fitting specialist, who knows the type of suits that look good on you, and can talk about your needs. You'll also enjoy shooting the breeze for an hour with us."
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