Many shops in the area offer custom clothing to achieve the perfect fit.
By Theodora Malison-Webb
Millennial weddings are making headlines, with vibrant young couples reinventing the proverbial wheel on tradition. From their social media hashtags and decadent dessert tables, it’s safe to say these weddings are introducing a number of unexpected trends. While suit and tuxedo rentals are still popular, tailored, made-to-order suits and dress shirts are becoming more widespread among today’s groom.
David Ferron is no stranger to the art of a tailored shirt—his various accolades and years of experience with fashion moguls like Nicole Miller and Tomas Maier have given him the knowledge and appreciation of made-to-fit clothing. His shop, Unionville Saddle, which is nestled in Kennett Square, Pa.’s historic district, specializes in men’s (and women’s) custom-made shirts. Ask Ferron “why custom,” and he’ll answer in great length.
“Retailers aren’t addressing the fit issues for their clientele,” he says. “Anything you buy off the rack you still have to get tailored, and even then those places still don’t get the boxiness out of clothing.”
“All of my current customers’ measurements are kept on file after the first appointment,” Ferron continues, explaining his method. “There’s a convenience factor for clients. I have a very relaxed approach with my clients and help to give them the perfect fit without compromising anywhere on the shirt.”
Ill-fitting shirts are an all-too common problem for men. They are often too billowy in the waist or too snug around the collar.
“I have clients who have differences in the lengths of their arms, or they need a larger collar size that doesn’t require a larger shirt,” he adds. “Investing in a custom made-to-measure shirt can make all of the difference in how a shirt will look and fit. The biggest issue men have in finding a shirt is finding a shirt that fits in both the neck and the chest properly, which you generally won’t find in retail. If I purchased a shirt based solely on my collar size, it would be huge everywhere else.”
James Buchakjian, president of Sagets Formal Wear in Drexel Hill, Pa., attests to witnessing similar experiences with men’s shirts. He boils it down to quality.
“The quality of a men’s tailored shirt is second to none to the box stores which are pushing their product to 900-plus stores. A lot of the times they can’t invest in updating all 900 locations on a certain product. I know that one particular shirt or suit isn’t necessarily going to work for everyone. A store might have the merchandise, but not the training on proper fitting.”
According to Buchakjian, the average man will avoid “trim fit” garments due to the nature of its exclusionary name. In his 35 years of business, Buchakjian has earned a stellar reputation among the community for his all-inclusive, made-to-order sizing. Eagles football center Jason Kelce, along with brother Travis Kelce, are among Buchakjian’s clientele. The custom wedding shirts and suits he designed for both men are representative of his workmanship.
“I prefer the word ‘fitted’ because larger men won’t look at something labeled ‘trim fit,’ and it’s hurting companies in terms of their marketing,” he says. “Fitted has an entirely different meaning, and is intended to fit any size man comfortably and properly.”
The shirt also needs to be the right length. Are they going to wear the shirt tucked or untucked? Are his shoulders broad or do they have a slope? “These are all factors that go into making sure a shirt is fitted and sized properly,” says Ferron.
Wright & Simon, a men’s clothing shop in downtown Wilmington, has been in business for more than 80 years. Owner Leonard Simon offers made-to-measure shirts (oftentimes at a special rate during the months of April and October). “Online and retail shopping are not the way to go. You not only want it to look right, but you want it to feel right. You want to be able to touch the fabric and feel the quality,” says Simon.
The design options are endless, too. Grooms not only have a say in the fabric, but also the collar and cuff style.
Pricing usually begins at an average of $145 per dress shirt. A meticulous process goes into the production of each individual garment, with a series of 25 or more measurements taken from chest, neck circumference, shoulder width, length of each arm and waistline.
“You might be spending a little more money on a custom shirt, but the longevity on them is much better over a rental or large store retail,” Ferron states. “And if you ever want or need another one made, you can call us up and we’ll have another one made in only 30 days.”
Buchakjian says the benefits are all in the experience.
“We’re finding more and more men are fashion conscious—especially the millennials, and they’re turning the corner on the custom experience,” he says. “I’m not only designing their shirt, but I’m pampering them and educating them all at the same time.”
This experience for Buchakjian’s clients also includes a concierge service, where Buchakjian and his team spend two hours exclusively assisting the groom and groomsmen with their tuxedos, posing for photos, pinning the boutonnieres and providing on-site emergency alterations if needed.
“I’m proud of my work and want that to show in my clients,” he says. “Your clients are the final product of your work—they have to ultimately be comfortable with how they look and feel, and I have to be comfortable sending them out the door.”
“A custom piece can offer a lot in terms of quality and style, but can offer an emotional element, too,” adds Ferron. “A custom piece can elevate your whole mood. When something fits you right, it can boost your confidence and change your whole perspective.”