Custom-made suits aren't just for the Donald Trumps of this world. Or, uh . . . the Mark Zuckerbergs (if you're reading this on Facebook).
"My typical customers are businessmen, but some construction guys, too," says Salvatore Paterno, owner of Milano Clothiers in Huntington Station. "Believe it or not, they like to dress well, and want quality."
"Made-to-measure is perfect for three types of guys," says Steve Kerman of Marshs in Huntington. "Guys on the go who, once they're measured, can pop in, pick fabrics and leave; guys on the fringe, either very small or big; and the clotheshorse who loves selection."
It's not easy these days to find a decent menswear shop in general (their numbers are dwindling), much less one that will whip up a hand-sewn bespoke suit (made from scratch) or made-to-measure version (using pre-existing patterns with tweaks for customer preferences). No worries - we've done the legwork for you.
Marshs is Long Island's largest men's specialty retailer and a mecca for well-dressed men. You'll find top designer names - Hugo Boss, Gucci, Etro, Brunello Cucinelli, Ferragamo, Brioni and Robert Graham, to name a few - and the sticker shock to go with them. But part of what you pay for here is service. Mitchells, the parent company that owns Marshs (and apparently forbids apostrophes), acquired Woodbury's Thomas Miller Menswear in 2010, taking on their top sales associates, including Miller himself. There's no hard sell, and salesmen seem to know many customers by name. This all makes the custom experience (if you're gonna pop for it) all the nicer. They've got custom suits, shirts and ties by brands such as Coppley (suits start at around $995) to Brioni and Zegna (where costs can soar to $20,000 or more).
Ralph Lauren will no doubt go down in history as one of the "quintessential American" designers, and Long Island is home to several Lauren shops, most of them in the Hamptons. At the Americana Manhasset, gentlemen can find Ralph Lauren Made to Measure, an exclusive service in which customers can select limited-edition luxury fabrics (including vicuna, cashmere blends and worsted wools up to Super 250s - we're talking mighty soft fabric, here) for custom-fit suits and shirts, and Made to Order, a similar program to custom-design ties, shoes and other accessories. Fees for such elite services resemble the GNP of some developing nations . . . or as much as a Mercedes C-Class. But then you figured that.
Stepping through these doors is like jetting to Milano itself. This is one of those Old World places and, we fear, something of a dying breed. You'll find black tile floors, leather chairs, track lighting - and espresso? Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato had his wedding tux custom-made here. There's plenty of custom suit, shirt and tie action. A suit of standard gaberdine may run about $1,400, but Super 120s, Loro Piana and other luxe textiles could hit $5,000. If you opt for off-the-rack, don't expect Hugo Boss or other labels you know, unless you're familiar with high-end Italian brands (like suit-maker Brera Milano; or Dolcepunta, makers of handcrafted, rare and pricey eleven-fold ties). The gents on staff know their stuff and will stay open late, or open early, to accommodate customers who like to shop when nobody's around.
22 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
In the heart of Rockville Centre, just a few doors down from the town's quaint movie theater, sits Bertalia, a modest-size men's store. The long, narrow shop is chock-full of fine men's suiting, knitwear, shirts, shoes, formal wear and a decent selection of denim, including Mavi jeans. Sought-after brands like Zegna, Cole-Haan and Michael Kors are mixed in with lesser-known Italian imports. The shop's best deal may be in its custom shirt service, in which men can pick from a wide variety of fabrics, silhouettes and details like collar shape and cuff style, all for about $115 and up.
384 New York Ave., Huntington
Joseph Wendt - Joey, to his loyal customers - has moved his menswear shop from Cold Spring Harbor to much larger digs in Huntington. You'll find suits and sportswear, jeans, shoes and gift items surrounded by a mix of stately brick, homey plants, autographed football helmets and the occasional bobblehead. The big draw here is the handmade custom line, which is popular with hard-to-fit pro athletes. Wendt has flown cross-country to help outfit players and coaches for the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and others, plus locals such as Giants defensive ends Michael Strahan (now retired) and Justin Tuck, and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Of course, you don't have to be sacking a QB to appreciate the full-cut suits, blazers, shirts and outerwear (made with a variety of Italian and English fabrics), or the Tommy John underwear and Michael Toschi shoes (up to size 16).
Heavy hitters are addicted to this Italian brand, known for its uber-sleek suits and ties, luxe cashmere and other sportswear and, of course, the tongue-twister name (that's "air-men-eh-HEEL-doh" and "ZAYN-yah"). There are only two "EZ" shops in all New York State: One is at 663 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan; the other opened last year at the Americana Manhasset, where the feel is that of a large, airy gentlemen's club, with natural wood, stone and plush brown velvet sofas. You'll find the full line of apparel and accessories, plus formal wear, the Zegna Sport collection and Su Misura (made-to-measure) service, which they pioneered in the 1970s. The custom-tailoring service allows you to choose fabrics (from more than 450), fit and other details for suits, leather garments, shirts, ties, shoes and belts, which are then produced according to your design in just a few weeks.
47 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale
There's a clubby feel inside Victor Talbot's, which may be L.I.'s closest answer to a bespoke tailor. Owner Victor Scognamiglio takes pride in the posh digs he's established on two floors of an old historic home, just north of Northern Boulevard. But it's the clothes and expert sales staff that keep a steady flow of local executives coming. Most suits, blazers, formal wear, shirts and accessories bear the Victor Talbot's label, with the exception of some co-branding with Brioni, Oxxford, Kiton, Hugo Boss, D'Avenza and Bally of Switzerland. We're talking prices in nosebleed territory, but you get a lot of bang for your beaucoup bucks. The shop offers trunk shows, a concierge service to help you find gifts for that special someone, free pressing services and free lifetime alterations.
OK. You're a slug. You want a custom experience . . . with the click of a mouse. More and more websites offer DIY style, like L.A.-based Franklin + Gower (franklinand gower.com), which allows men to customize trim - bold stripes or subtle piping on brushed cotton shorts, $98; vibrant linings and under-collars on blazers, $395 - with a few clicks on a drop-down menu. Even wilder - roll your mouse over product pictures and they turn into videos, to show how these puppies move. "If you can design your own car online, why not your look?" says F+G co-founder Paco McCauley. - Joseph V. Amodio