Ladies and gentlemen, the suit maestro has arrived. Michael Andrews—former lawyer, now custom tailor—has expanded from New York City to Washington D.C. and is now taking on select clients. His following has grown from cult-sized to waitlist-worthy and so, naturally, he had to come to DC where there is a never-ending need for sartorial choices. He transformed a rowhouse near Dupont Circle into a multi-level custom tailor experience and spends four days a week in DC meeting with clients, taking their measurements, and then turning the sketches into high-end suits fit for everything from courtrooms to inaugural balls. It turns out that's easier than bringing a rowhouse up to bespoke standards.
Unlike the New York store which begins with a two-story vaulted ceiling, the entrance into the DC location is meant to be much more subtle. Similar to walking into someone's home, instead of a fashion showroom, this location is purposely built to have plenty of spaces for Andrews and his staff to talk one-on-one with the clients from the beginning of the suit-making process right through to the end.
"DC is so much about connections and people," says Andrews. "It is more community based and more about networking and being social, whereas New York can be more impersonal and more showy. In that sense the two spaces are indicative of the cities they're in."
By removing the wall that partitioned off the kitchen from the rest of the space they were able to create an open floorplan with several different places for clients to mull over the many, many decisions that come with a custom-made suit. "You're doing it on a little bit of a leap of faith," he explains. "You come in and look at flat pieces of fabric and trust that you're going to pick the right one and eight weeks later you're going to have a suit that looks the way you want it to. For that to happen and be effective I've got to guide people through that process." That means clients need a place where they can take their time to decide on all the details that come with a custom-made product. Since it isn't a retail store where people can come in off the street an appointment at Michael Andrews means some lengthy discussions about fit, length, and lifespan of the final product. Hence the attention to detail with all the furnishings. If people are going to spend an hour (or more!) thinking over the options, Andrews knows they need to be comfortable.
He also knew he wanted the new location to clearly show that it was part of the Michael Andrews brand, but yet it was important that this store also had some of its own personality. To that end the third level is where the fittings and measurings take place and was designed to feel like a gentleman's library. "This is my favorite room and it is definitely a new piece of the puzzle for us," says Andrews. "We kept the same color palate as New York, our signature wallpaper (which is the same that is on the website), and the light over the dining room table is the same, but [the library] is unlike anything we have in New York."
As for why a tailor spent so much time on paint color and furnishings? "For one thing it is my name on the door. Our culture here is incredibly important to us and it is very well-baked in New York. So I want to make sure every thing about the way every Michael Andrews location runs is steeped in our brand and in our culture."