From the slim wool blazers that fit the Mad Men gentlemen like a glove, to the hem of Nate Reuss’ trousers being so high, it looks as though he’s always in immediate danger of a flash flood. It’s obvious that men are going to great lengths to express their style through the tailoring of their suits.
Why then, are there guys still walking around with folds of fabric flapping in the wind?
While it might be easier for TV stars to have access to the best tailors, the rest of us are left with what can be a very vexing process. First, you have to find a legitimate tailor, then there’s the awkward process of having your body measured inch-by-inch. I’m constantly reminded of the “Friends” episode when Chandler was inappropriately ‘cupped’ by Joey’s tailor. And lets finish off with the thousands you’re bound to drop on the finished suit.
Well gents, whatever your qualms are about getting fitted and buying a tailor-made suit, Arden Reed has a “driving” need to make it simple. This week they’re in Chicago, stationed inside John Allan’s spa, the penthouse level of 111. W. Jackson Blvd., until Friday.
Arden Reed is the name of a mobile custom tailoring truck, fully equipped with a 3-D body scanner (not unlike the ones now used in airport security) that promises to deliver the best possible measurements.
Carlos Solorio, co-founder of Arden Reed explains that measurements are closer by plus or minus 5 millimeters using the 3-D scanner, than the plus or minus an inch when you are measured by a human tailor. But the real breakthrough here, comes from the suit makers being able to visualize individual body as they get ready to cut and sew.
“So not only are they seeing a number, they’re seeing a body shape,” Solorio said. “Yeah you get the measurements, and that helps out a lot. But because a lot of people might have arched backs or different shapes, it wouldn’t make sense if you just had a number.”
As part of the funds raised via kickstarter.com, Arden Reed launched their mobile tailoring truck by taking a trip through the U.S., making stops in major cities.
Unfortunately, strict Chicago mobile shop laws forbade the Arden Reed van to conduct tailoring measurements on the street.
However, there’s still the promise of 3-D fittings. So, of course I decided to put myself through Arden Reed’s breakthrough tailoring at John Allan’s this past Wednesday.
“We usually have a truck that resembles a men’s pop up shop. It’s really cool and innovative, because you actually see a lot of women’s trucks out there, but not a lot of mens trucks,” said Alton Gillard, the social media strategist and event coordinator for Arden Reed. He was there with Solorio to take me through the steps of the body scanning process.
As you enter the fitting room, you’re asked to strip to your skivvies– but hey, no inseam measurements, and they did at least offer me a drink first.
Like airport security scanners, there are markers for your feet and you’re asked to clutch a metal handle so the scanners capture a wide arm and leg stance. The whole process was no longer than a minute, and once I was done putting my clothes back on, my body scan was uploaded.
It was as if the 3-D body scanner had molded a virtual clone of my unique body shape: my curves, inseam and even the width of my schoolgirl arms
“So after we take this scan, we’ll create a profile for you on our website. You go online and all of our [shirt] fabrics are there too,” Gillard said, and that Arden Reed currently offers over 100 fabric swatches.
“Then we send your body image along with your measurements to production. So our factory could not only have numbers, but have an actual 3-D representation of your body to build off. It eliminates a lot of problems,” he added.
The biggest problem it eliminates? The tears that come with the final tailoring bill. Solorio says that Arden Reeds custom suiting can sometimes be less than half of standard tailoring prices.
“If you go to a tailor in-house, with all the costs associated with it and the hours they put in, it runs about $1000 and up for a custom suit” he said. “We start at $400, and our most expensive is around $650, so our made to measure is very reasonable.”
Once your order is processed, it takes three to four weeks for the suit to arrive. Solorio does point out the slight snag that Arden Reed is mobile, which makes additional customization impractical. “We ship directly to the customer, and if there’s any additional customization required, you can take it to a local tailor and we’ll refund that cost,” he said.
With a process, and prices like this, does that even matter though?