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Daniel George - Suiting Up

During their most recent visit to Europe, Daniel George and his colleague, Ben Johansen noticed something interesting: they were quite struck by the number of finely dressed young people. Both men and women. Not only expensive multi-media fashion, but tailored clothing as well. No labels, no flashy signals or overt details. The quality and fit was beyond reproach. Mr. George reflected, “clothing is definitely one of our most direct forms of communication, whether on Wall Street or the beaches of Malibu. We value the instant signals, the style that is so quickly transmitted and easily discernible. It may come in the form of a suit with a military silhouette with roped shoulders or a soft deconstructed coat as seen on the streets of Milan and Florence. Bold and daring or understated and classic. It’s a specific choice and if it is not, it should be” he reminds me. “The journey has purpose and directions. One that may be strictly followed or read and discarded as nonsense. Oftentimes the man or woman who really gets it starts their own trends among colleagues and friends.”

He goes on; “often the man who doesn’t want to signal at all, signals the loudest. Japanese style comes to mind. It’s so clever and artful and yet under-tailored. It’s the simple lines and colors, oversized and in many cases quite loyal to its roots. If It’s comfortable, is that really style? And does that come with a side of laziness?” “No way! It’s everything” says Ben as he uses his coat sleeve to wipe his nose.

If it’s direction and perhaps a new experience altogether that you seek, Daniel’s eponymously named haberdashery is nestled in Chicago’s tasteful River North showroom. Mr. George has been manning his own custom menswear outfit for the last 24 years, catering to business moguls, sports stars and dapper gents who know the difference between peak and notch lapels - and those looking to learn and recalibrate their look.

Growing up in Connecticut, George was groomed on fashion’s finer points from a young age. According to his recollection, his father took him shopping twice a year for sports coats, suits, and activewear. “I was the best dressed 8-year-old one has ever seen, ‘’ laughs George. My dad had a classic car collection and smoked a pipe. He was an old-school gentleman and he imparted to me a refined style and appreciation for craftsmanship.” His father’s taste in automobiles has transcended decades. Daniel’s stable is a combination of those like his fathers and favorites as an independent and thoughtful child. He remembers so many details about dining and travels as well as his father’s good taste and manners when he wasn’t in the soup or with his meat hooks up the waitress’ skirt.

George’s higher sartorial education took him to San Francisco in 1992, where he began his career as a designer at the largest custom clothing house in the U.S. at the time. A master class at Alfred Dunhill of London followed, and in 1998 he launched his own by-appointment business, tailoring custom suits for clients at their home or office. Trunk shows at luxury hotels like the Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton garnered him media attention, and soon he was serving the Bay Area’s elite (Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, the late & former Secretary of State, George Schultz and governor of California Jerry Brown).

But as George will readily admit, converting men into fashion aficionados can sometimes be risky. “Most men don’t understand menswear these days,” he says. Daniel hears the complaint often; “I hate wearing suits”. He explains that it’s the suit and not the man. Mr. George says, “The convert who trusts us with our services sees the light. The difference between a suit to a well-tailored suit is like the ‘key change’ in pop music. It’s the difference between a song and a hit.”

George firmly believes that a bespoke suit and poise go hand-in-hand. “Our clients have most often found us after a negative experience, often one where they’ve purchased a machine manufactured, ill-fitting suit. If they can recognize that the lower price point is precisely why they own an inferior suit then we are able to provide them with an education about fabrics, fit, and how to accessorize. It’s like trading in a Honda and getting an S Class Mercedes.” Mr. George’s best advice? “Sit up, stand up. It works in most cases” says the well appointed designer.

The glowing reviews on the internet and social media as well as interviews and features are a great launching pad for those still learning about the benefits. Better yet, book a visit to his San Francisco showroom located in the upscale Jackson Square or in their River North, Chicago timber loft. Here, George has spun a design aesthetic to match his dignified sensibilities. There’s a gentleman’s lounge that is perfect for trying on your custom tailored shirts or a bespoke shoe created using try-ons and a tracing for more difficult fits. You may be enticed by a whisky bar nestled by the displays of his outerwear offerings, and a custom Santos Rosewood and glass table by Lagomorph Design displays the limited edition, Italian silk ties. “We’re happy to provide our clients with a few creature comforts,” says Ben. “The experience should be fun; but it’s the safety of a private showroom where men can ask us anything, especially if it’s clothing related.”

George is also happy to address the composition and how price points can be deceiving. “People will price shop and they will be disappointed. Price shopping cuts everything that’s good about a suit out of the equation - a soft shoulder, luxury fabric, hand-workmanship. We don’t have the cheapest suit however we do have the best ones. We can tell you where to find the least expensive suit.” It’s a strange quest, says Daniel as he takes a bite of his bologna and pepperjack cheese sandwich.

So how confident is George in the quality of his product? So confident, in fact, that he offers a refund policy. “About every six months we write a check and it’s usually because a guy bought a fine Italian fabric suit and then decided to sling a 55 lb backpack over his shoulder day in and day out, to and from work - again, there’s an education process to everything we do. Don’t even get me started on grown men carrying backpacks.


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