New York bespoke tailors – Updated
This is a fully updated version of our post from January on the bespoke tailors in and around New York.
The contributions of readers were extremely helpful, particularly those that had used tailors personally, as this is an area with a lot of misinformation. The comments to the post have also been updated and corrected.
Hopefully this is a useful model of post going forward: something that sits between a static but cohesive article and a disorganised but dynamic thread.
The United States has very few domestic bespoke tailors.
There is an older generation - mostly Italian - that is now largely either retired or has passed away; and there are some young tailors trying to revive the craft - but that often lack experience.
Part cause and part effect of this is the number of tailors from England and Italy that travel around the country offering traditional bespoke.
New York in particular has more visiting tailors than any other city in the world: every major name visits at least twice a year.
Most American customers of bespoke therefore use these European tailors given their experience and reputation. When you’re spending thousands of dollars on a suit, and you have access to the best in the world, why would you use anyone else?
However, there are some advantages to using a local tailor. If you miss an appointment, you don’t have to wait for the next visit; if you have a tailoring crisis, someone is on hand to help.
So while I’d always recommend those European tailors to readers first, this post is a summary of the bespoke tailors around New York.
Now, one of the interesting things about New York is that models of bespoke vary more than in countries where there is a deeper tradition of the craft.
Partly due to demands for speed, or for value, different brands skip parts of the bespoke process.
The definition I use for bespoke is that it must involve a personal paper pattern for the customer, revised extensively over multiple fittings; and that functional aspects of construction, such as stitching the chest and the lapel, must be done by hand.
This two-part definition is what is offered by every European tailor visiting the US. So when a reader asks me who in New York offers 'real' bespoke, this is what they mean.
Unfortunately, many US tailors call what they do ‘bespoke’ when it is purely made to measure. There is no pattern development, no functional handwork. This is the primary cause of confusion.
But there are also tailors and brands that do bespoke pattern development, but not the handwork; or pad the chest by hand, but not the lapel. These are greyer areas that don’t arise much in Europe.
Those brands are included in the list below, but lower down, and it is made clear what aspects they do and don’t do.
Their demotion is not to say that they don’t make great suits, or that there aren’t good reasons (such as relative value) for what they offer.
But the first question has to be whether they offer the same thing as the visiting tailors. Then later, separately and hopefully in detail, we can review their offering.
Normally I would only recommend a tailor once I had tried them myself, by the way, which is why such coverage takes a while.
But as I only visit New York once a year on average, this isn’t really possible.
So instead the information here comes from meeting the tailors in person and seeing their work, from confirming details of what they do by email/phone, and from the comments and experiences of readers.
Although this is an updated post incorporating the 100+ comments, I’m sure there will still be tailors missed out, so do please continue to mention those - if you feel you can offer the same information on process and product.
1 Leonard Logsdail
Len Logsdail is probably the best-known bespoke tailor in New York. An Englishman who moved to the US, he has a lovely workshop on East 53 St and recently added his son, Leonard Jr, to the team.
Len has become famous through his film work - for the likes of Robert De Niro, Samuel L Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio - but still makes proper bespoke (often called benchmade in the US) as well as offering a cheaper suit closer to made to measure.
The cut is drapey with a slightly extended shoulder, but closer fitting than Anderson & Sheppard, for example. For those that want an established tailor in New York, and like the style, he will probably be the first choice.
2 Joseph Genuardi, Yosel Tiefenbrun
At the opposite end of the spectrum is a young tailor like Joseph Genuardi, who apprenticed under Joseph Centofanti in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and now has his own operation in New Jersey.
Joseph was at Centofanti for five years, and then went to work at the Martin Greenfield factory in Brooklyn, expanding his knowledge into made-to-measure and becoming involved in TV work like Boardwalk Empire.
In 2016 he quit to set up his own bespoke workshop and now has three people working for him. I’ve met Joseph and seen his work, which is very good. Some of his styles aren’t for me, but the classic tailoring is great, with nice touches like scooped side adjustors on the trousers.
Also recommended by others, in this vein, is Yosel Tiefenbrun - see list at the bottom of this post and comments from readers.
3 Frank Shattuck
Frank is based in Sackets Harbour, upstate New York, but comes to Manhattan to see clients. He has been a tailor since 1982, when he started with the Cesta brothers in Syracuse, but more significantly, trained under Raphael Raffealli in Manhattan - one of an older generation of New York bespoke tailors that is now largely retired.
Frank makes proper bespoke, and does all the cutting and making himself - something many of these small tailors can do, even if they stop doing so when they get bigger.
Frank’s style is English and quite structured, with a particular fondness for country and shooting garments. He also uses a lot of vintage fabrics. You can see from a film made about him by Anthony Bourdain that he is quite a character, but no less talented for it.
4 Dunhill, Thom Sweeney, Huntsman
In recent years, a group of English tailors has set up permanent operations in New York.
Initially, some of those were just showrooms with a salesman. Huntsman, for instance, had a small place with this set up. It made things slightly easier for a client, as they could skip the visit where they picked cloth for a new commission. But it wasn’t possible to drop in any time for a bespoke fitting.
That’s now changed, with Huntsman expanding into a bigger space (above) and having a permanent cutter. And early in 2018, Thom Sweeney did the same when it opened its first RTW store in the US. In fact, Sweeney theoretically has bespoke at two locations at the moment - in the West Broadway store and in a little bespoke space uptown.
Dunhill has had a cutter on site for longer, in the Madison Avenue store, though the service has varied over the years. And like all these English tailors, even if the cutting is done on-site, the tailoring work is still sent back to the UK.
5 The older generation: Nino Corvato, Nino Caldarone, Franco Ercole
The last group is an older generation of Italian tailors in New York, many of whom are now retired or semi-retired.
Nino Caldarone (above) is the youngest of these, and still works from his home in New Jersey. Nino Corvato is now 78 and from what I have been told, is not taking on new clients. He was featured in the documentary Men of the Cloth - which is worth seeing if you have the chance.
Franco Ercole (Franco is the son and Ercole the father) have a midtown location and a space in Brooklyn where the work is done. They offer both bespoke and made to measure.
One reader says: “I would describe Frank’s work as having a soft shoulder, healthy lapels, and a slight nip to the waist. If you are a first time customer of Ercole’s it’s worth the train ride out to Brooklyn where the shop is. There is plenty of charm, vintage bolts of cloth and espresso across the street if you need a quick mend on something.”
Many of the others are now either passed on or retired. Raphael Raffaelli closed his shop 10 years ago; Vincent Nicolosi, Tom Wolfe’s tailor, has retired; and Bill Fiorvanti passed away in 2017.
6 Alan Flusser, Mark Rykken (Britches Bespoke), Paolo Martorano (Paolo Style)
The next group of houses all have an intertwined history.
Perhaps most importantly for this article, this is also where we start getting into tailoring that doesn’t fit our full definition of bespoke.
Readers will be familiar with Alan Flusser (below) from his books on menswear, but he has also offered his own MTM and bespoke tailoring for a long time. Mark Rykken (above) started his career with the men’s outfitter Britches of Georgetowne, before opening the Alan Flusser outlet in Washington DC.
When Mark left, he went to run the bespoke and MTM programme at Paul Stuart. Paolo Martorano worked with him there, and when the Paul Stuart service closed recently, he set up on his own under the name Paolo Style. Mark, meanwhile, re-opened Britches with the founder Rick Hindin.
Those are the connections. The bespoke difference is that Paolo (below) has set out to make full bespoke - so full pattern development and handwork - in the same vein as the Europeans.
Britches Bespoke does the same bespoke pattern development and pads the chest by hand, but does the lapels by machine. Mark says he finds it produces a cleaner look and controls the roll better.
And finally I’m told that Alan doesn’t do either part of the jacket by hand, just the bespoke pattern development. But there is a qualification here that I’ve asked him to confirm and haven’t heard back.
It should also be noted that none of these three are cutters, all using outworkers in and around New York.
The cut each of them does offer is quite similar, largely derived from an English drape, although Paolo (above) keeps the shoulder and body line while cutting out the drape in the chest.
7 Manolo Costa, Miller’s Oath, Jake Mueser
This section highlights three more style-driven brands, but which make full bespoke as at least part of their offering.
It’s important to note that all of them are similar to the Paul Stuart/Alan Flusser group above, in that they are not cutters. This is much more common in New York, largely because the customer demand is more for style and a range of making options - so there is often an MTM or custom option as well as the full bespoke.
Whether that matters to you is more personal. There will certainly be some fans of bespoke who would rather deal directly with the cutter - as they would with Len, Frank or Joseph.
The variation in making options also reflects the demands of US customers for speed of delivery. While traditional bespoke includes a fully hand-padded chest and lapel, for instance, there is definitely an argument that this work is not worth the extra time and money it requires.
So Miller’s Oath can do full bespoke handwork, but most customers opt for the machine make as it’s so much cheaper.
It’s also no coincidence that all these makers have more style than the traditional tailors. Manolo’s is perhaps more Italian and formal, and Kirk Miller’s younger and more preppy, but both have more design awareness than almost anywhere on Savile Row.
Manolo Costa and Jake Mueser do make a full bespoke, fully hand-padded product from what I’ve seen (which is images of fittings and the inside of finished garments).
However, Mueser also offers MTM, which can cause confusion as to whether the full bespoke is the real deal. And Costa does a unstructured jacket with no padding or canvas.
Again, I’m sure there will be bespoke customers who would rather have something made by a tailor that does only that. They would be best looking at the first few options or the visiting Europeans.
This is a section purely for tailors that readers have suggested and recommended in the comments below. They are listed here for ease of reference.
“Another young tailor worth mentioning is Yosel Tiefenbrun. He trained at the Savile Row Academy and worked for Maurice Sedwell. He is known as the “Rabbi Tailor”. His clothing and young family are chronicled on http://rabbitailor.tumblr.com His workshop is in Bushwick, Brooklyn.”
“Eric Jensen of Sartoria Jensen may be a consideration for some. I know he apprenticed for Despos here in Chicago for several years before relocating to NYC. His site is very specific that his services are full-bespoke and not MTM.”
“David Reeves is another who runs a bespoke tailoring who should be mentioned here. He worked for bespoke tailors in London before coming to New York and opening his own shop, now in Union Square. Like some of the others you have mentioned, he is not a cutter. His suits are in a more structured and modern style compared to the more drape-focused English-style tailors that tend to be in New York.”
“Craig Robinson in Williamsburg is a great Bespoke tailor and cutter.”
“Rossi took my guidance very well and even my most critical “bespoke aficionados” friends in Europe appreciate his work when they see me wearing it. If you know exactly what you want and are willing to give clear guidance during the fittings, Rossi is your man in NYC. www.rossi-bespoketailor.com.”