I recently walked through one of my old neighborhoods, NoLita, on a rare visit (these days) to the lower end of Manhattan. As always the revolving door of stores is staggering. Double-take after double-take of old haunts brought me to Mott Street between Prince and Spring. There was not one store that I recognized from years past and yet I did make two very interesting discoveries. A piece of Saville Row (blasphemy!) and a bit of Broolyn have taken root here and I stumbled across these guarded secrets by pure chance. I say guarded because although already attracting a devoted following, or so I am told, I had never heard of these two haberdashers. There are several reasons for that I am sure, the first of which is work and parenthood that no longer allow me the luxury of idly meandering the nooks and crannies of this city. Also, the custom shirts and suits command prices that are certainly fair for the work and material, but are not at all for the faint of heart.
Lord Willy’s is Monty Python dressed to the nines. Whimsical, in fact, in that most serious of British ways. You have a choice here of off-the-rack or custom for both suits and shirts. There is a wonderful selection of fabrics and a predilection even on the custom shirts for the trendier and easier to wear wide collar. Monochromatic ties are offered to make sure you understand that the shirt makes the man and ties are just their sidekicks. Of course, umbrellas are present to remind everyone that the accent around here is British. I would encourage you to visit Lord Willy’s website which is very entertaining and where Alex Wilcox, the founder, offers some very sensible advice for today’s true gentleman.
A few steps north is a Brooklyn transplant that decided a few years ago to bring his family’s 70-year-old business to Manhattan. SEW (Scott Evan Wasserberger) has a definite downtown vibe to it and yet the rolls of stacked fabric and the sewing machines are distinctly Garment District. There is no “look” at SEW and it makes it that much more welcoming to walk in and browse since you will definitely find something that is in your “style”. One tweak to several classic herringbone jackets that I was admiring is the very colorful fabric found under each collar. A hidden sartorial tweak that peaks out every once and a while letting people know that you are not so boring after all. Everything in the store and bespoke is New York made and that is rarer than rare these days. The SEW blog gives you a better idea of the excellent custom work that they do and is certainly inspiring for anyone interested in tiding up a bit.
I am just happy to see more true haberdashers opening up around town. Even if you are not a suit and tie person, there will always be those occasions in which you will need a suit that fits you properly – not too tight and not like a potato sack. Instead of buying bulk shirts and hoping they guessed your fit why not splurge on one perfect fit?