If current travel restrictions are crimping your custom-suit style because you can’t get over to Savile Row and your favorite London tailors aren’t making stateside trips, don’t despair. The utmost in bespoke clothing is available without you ever having to leave your home.
Frank Shattuck was already the anomaly among tailors: an American steeped in old-school Italian tailoring who “pure bench” makes every cut and stitch of his clothing from shoulder to hem. But since he moved from his New York City location to Henderson, New York, some 300 miles North, he now offers a unique service: bespoke suits with no shop visits.
The fitting process seems deceptively simple. You take chest, waist and hip measurements and e-mail them to Shattuck, along with front and back photographs. He downplays the 30 or so measurements some tailors make, saying “they are just for show.” Shattuck then consults with the customer over the phone. For me, he observed, “Your right shoulder is 3/4" lower. You have balls on your back. See those knobs on your shoulders? I’ll bet all of your collars lift off your neck.” All unerringly correct. Next comes a papyrus pattern and then a muslin version, both mailed to the customer for a try-on. Then arrives the cloth version, for more fittings (subsequent garments take fewer steps).
What that description doesn’t account for is his 27-plus years of experience, his 15 years of apprenticeship under such masters as Raphael Raffaelli, Tonino Christoforo and Frank and Carlo Cesta, from whom he learned the anatomically based Mitchell system. Nor does it indicate the attention your garment gets: he spends days pondering it and then pours himself into construction without shortcuts. A single armhole (his signature high-set one makes you seem to stand erect at all times) may involve 200 stitches.
With bespoke clothing the fabric choices are, of course, endless, and your preferences may be based on color and pattern when you choose from an array of swatches. Shattuck’s take goes deeper: “the cloth is what topsoil is to a farmer.” Not surprisingly, he’s partial to old-school cloths with plenty of structure. That pays off in durability. The Frank Shattuck is meant to last decades. That makes the economics more feasible. After you pay for the fabric, a coat is $4,000, trousers $1,000 and a vest $1,200. Spread out over 20 years, that may seem like a good investment.