Hipster favorite Freemans Sporting Club has opened a bespoke studio at its New York City flagship.
This story first appeared in the June 28, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 1,000-square-foot spot is tucked away at the end of Freeman Alley, off Rivington Street, between Chrystie and Bowery, and accessed by walking through the company’s restaurant, Freemans, and up a flight of stairs hidden behind a faux bookcase.
The shop, FSC Bench-Made Bespoke Studio, opened with little fanfare earlier this month after being tested for six months, and produces custom clothing on-site that retails for $3,950 and up. The by-appointment-only shop boasts five full-time in-house bench tailors, seven sewing stations and two cutting tables. The operation is overseen by Alex Young, studio director, and master tailor Felix Aybar, who previously worked for Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford.
The bespoke offering complements the off-the-rack suits sold in the main store. Those suits are manufactured by Martin Greenfield in Brooklyn and sell for $1,800 to $2,400. The street-level store also sells sportswear and accessories and has a barber shop in the rear.
“We’re trying to evolve the brand,” said Kent Kilroe, Freemans managing director. “And we were fortunate to find an amazing tailor, which encouraged us to bring another level to our quality and service.”
Freemans, which is owned by the restaurateur Taavo Somer, who also serves as creative director, and his partners Kilroe and William Tigertt, has built its reputation on offering products made in America by skilled artisans.
Each bespoke suit takes around 60 hours of labor to produce. Customers will be fitted four times, and a custom suit will be produced to their specifications in around 12 weeks. Three “posture photographs” are also taken of each customer so any issues that could impact the fit of the suit can be addressed, according to Young.
The finished suit will include a personalized label with the customer’s name and the date it was completed. Young said he hopes to eventually get the completion time down to six weeks, and possibly four.
In addition to suits, Freemans Bespoke also offers custom dress shoes from Allen Edmonds, a collection of vintage timepieces curated by Hodinkee, and bespoke belts, wallets and bags from AE McAteer.
“The focus of the room is all about the environment,” said Young. “It’s like a private store. People can come up here from the restaurant with a cocktail to be fitted. In fact, we encourage late-night visits.”
The company’s West Village location on Bleecker Street has also installed a bespoke department, Young said, and eventually Freemans would like to offer the service at its San Francisco store as well. “We haven’t found a tailor we’re happy with,” said Young.
In fact, finding skilled tailors was perhaps the biggest challenge when deciding to take the plunge into custom, but Freemans was able to find workers that fit the bill. “When we made the investment of money and time, we were worried whether we’d be able to keep them busy,” said Kilroe. “But they’re making eight to 10 suits a month now, and we’d like them to make 20 or 30.” The Bleecker Street store is producing four to five suits a month.
Somer said he hopes to further expand the Freemans franchise by looking into the Japanese market next year, and he also hopes to open additional stores on the West Coast.