Daniel George - Suits Up
The golden age of Savile Row arguably began in 1860 when the Prince of Wales observed the expert craftsmanship of an actor’s costume. “A mass of rents and patches” that seemed, the closer he looked, to be an impeccably well-cut mass of rents and patches”.
The story leads to a series of innovations in menswear, not least two-piece velvet suits, smoking jackets, and later the tuxedo. Many of the bedrock motifs pervading dignified menswear are attributed to the fixation, whims, and even accidents of this singular gentleman.
The Prince’s spirit lives on. Daniel George approaches menswear with the same discriminating eye and natural playfullness that, “distinguishes the practictioner from the dilettante”. He says ``It’s not just custom clothing, it’s the point of view of which my business has organically extended”. This point of view traces back to childhood - to Daniel’s archetypal reverence of his father. “Unbeknownst to me at the time, my father was incredibly stylish and was teaching me how to be a gentleman by simply being one. He would take me shopping from the age of eight for seasonal wardrobes. His monogrammed towels were neatly folded and his monogrammed slippers tucked away under the bed. The silk pajamas he wore and the pipe he smoked - and none of it was for show. He also maintained a tailored wardrobe unusual even for men of his day. Separate closets for suits, sport jackets and trousers. He remembers his shoe collection as ‘complete’ in every way. There was an emphasis on quality; that things should be both functional and attractive”.
This interest in functional excellence extended to automobiles and was presumably the seedling for Daniel’s classic car collection; made up mostly of bespoke, British cars. Beyond his fascination and appreciation for the artisanry and little quirks of these rare gems, they bolster the authenticity of his unique taste. He joked “in the same way that a business shoe contradicts a wedding suit, I think it would be a bit anticlimactic if you saw me dressed to the nines behind the wheel of a Honda Civic. Or the obverse - an executive driving an S-class who has not made a single investment in his or her wardrobe”.
Daniel’s higher sartorial education took him to San Francisco in 1992, where he cut his teeth as a designer at the largest custom clothing house in the U.S. at the time. A stint at Alfred Dunhill of London followed, and in 1997 he launched his own by-appointment business, tailoring custom suits for clients at their home or office. Trunk shows at luxe hotels like the Four Season and the Ritz-Carlton garnered him media attention, and soon he was serving the Bay Area’s social elite (including Larry Ellison and then Governor of California, Jerry Brown).
Daniel is not one to mince words and stands on his twenty five years of experience in custom menswear and regular travels to London, Florence, and New York which serve as a ballast for generating new ideas and improvements. His opinion? “Americans have subsisted on blue blazers and banking uniforms without questioning assumptions for decades. I am not suggesting reinventing the wheel, but perhaps it can be recalibrated”.
Daniel reiterates, “Our relationship with clients is primarily a collaboration; I would be nothing more than a salesman if I deferred the design of the garments to the client’s judgment”.
When reading the biographies of great designers such as Halston, Hubert de Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, we are reminded of the perfectionism, disagreeability, and singular point of view that are requisite for carrying interesting ideas to fruition.
Daniel draws upon a detailed knowledge of Italian and English sartorial history to modulate his brand’s unique identity. He says “There can be no generalities. There are specific fabrics, patterns, construction, and cuts that, when designed intelligently, will flatter clients of all different shapes and sizes. All variables must be accounted for, and most clients feel safer knowing that the important decisions are left to me”. Delicately fusing Italian sensibility in design with a British attitude towards gimmicks is what makes his point of view compelling. To categorize him as traditional is unfairly reductive, and to label him trendy or modern would be to diminish his roots.
Daniel raises the bar higher by addressing the fallacy directly convoluting the vernacular of his industry. “Many clothiers in the U.S.A. improperly use the term bespoke and its true meaning is widely misunderstood. Bespoke has certain hallmarks and does not resemble a made-to-measure suit in quality or price”. If you are promised a full-bespoke experience, then you must meet with the tailor/cutter for every fitting and Daniel strongly suggests seeing the parcels cut and labeled for catalog. Your pattern is filed and ready for future commissions. “Spoiler alert!” he warns “if your coat is fully lined during your first ‘full-bespoke’ fitting, it ain’t full-bespoke. It is an unfortunate fact that there will be cynics in many industries capitalizing off of manipulative language and the uninformed”. At Daniel George, a fully machine made custom garment is not offered. There is a simple yet robust principle underscored by his statement “I won’t sell a garment that I would not wear myself”.
Daniel George offers full-bespoke in both Chicago and San Francisco locations; their tailors of 40 years and 25 years respectively are commissioned to create an experience that closely resembles Savile Row. “We are the first to admit we do not have the heritage and experience of the English masters, however, we will save you a trip to London for a bespoke garment that won’t disappoint”.
In an era when the generally approved dress code for a night on the town does not require changing out of your joggers, Daniel suggests not losing sight of the fact that dressing well affords one opportunities that may not otherwise exist. “Personally or professionally, when were you last complimented wearing a hoodie? In Europe, there is a fundamental difference in attitude towards dressing that can be summarized by the question asked if and when I am approached. The American might say ‘why are you wearing a suit?’ while the European asks ‘where did you get that suit!’. Regardless of attitude, a dialogue is opened, and that is what many people overlook”.
Daniel and his team recognize that men do not wear suits everyday and they see it as an opportunity to elevate style consciousness. Daniel George is dedicated to providing an experience that can only be characterized as both novel and a homage to a lost art. What Daniel George has accomplished for the last twenty five years is the reinvigoration of his clients’ wardrobe. It is hardly a coincidence that his stylish sobriety, irreverent sense of humor, and sartorial acumen establish Daniel George a stupendous success.