Daniel George - The Finest Custom Suits
Daniel George isn’t one to mince words, especially about men’s fashion. He says “if someone is complimenting you on your tie, then there’s something wrong with your suit”. He should know. George has been manning his own custom menswear outfit for the last 23 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 upgrade their look.
Growing up in Connecticut, George was groomed on fashion’s finer points from a young age. According to his count, his parents took him shopping twice a year for suits, sport coats, and accessories. “My dad had a classic car collection and smoked a pipe. He was an old-school gentleman and he imparted a refined style and appreciation for craftsmanship”.
George’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. The Custom Shop. 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 (think Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and governor of California Jerry Brown).
For 10 years, San Francisco was a good fit for George, but in 2007 he was ready for a change. “New York’s fashion scene was saturated”, he says. “Chicago made the most sense for my business plan, and the climate is perfect for wearing suits”! Daniel George is now the fastest-growing custom clothier in Chicago with a beautiful new timber-loft showroom in River North.
But as George will readily admit, converting men into fashion aficionados can sometimes be risky. “Most men don’t know about clothing anymore,” he says. “Recently I was waiting to go through security at the airport behind a father and his son. The kid says to his dad “Daddy, why do they call it a suitcase”? And dad replied “because men used to wear suits and put them in there”. The father readily dismissed what could have been an enlightening conversation about sophisticated men’s dressing, image, and confidence. Instead the message his son received was that suits are no more, and that’s a terrible message”.
Unfortunate because George firmly believes that a bespoke suit and poise go hand in hand. “We’re taking guys buying $500 ill-fitted suits from national retailers and selling them $1,500 suits” says George. “It’s like trading in a Honda and getting an S Class Mercedes. How do we do it? By educating them about fabrics, fit, and how to accessorize. After that, the product sells itself”.
The tutorials on George’s website are a great jumping off point for those still on the learning curve. Better yet, book a visit to his showroom in either Chicago or San Francisco. Here, George has spun a design aesthetic to match his vestiary sensibilities. There’s a gentleman’s lounge, a whisky bar nestled by the north windows, displays of his new private label outerwear offerings, and a handsome Santos Rosewood table by Lagomorph Design that shows off his selection of Italian silk ties. “The experience should be fun. And it’s the safety of a private showroom where men can ask us anything”.
George is also happy to address the composition and how price points can be deceiving. People will price shop and they will be disappointed. The last thing you want is a machine-made suit of Chinese fabric, and a so-called $700 “custom suit” isn’t quality. 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 in town but we have the best suits. If you take your budget and add a third to it, we can make you a beautiful suit”.
So how confident is George in the quality of his product? So confident, in fact, that he offers a no-questions-asked, 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...but that’s how much we believe in our garments’’.
“I want everyone who wears a suit to experience one of our custom tailored garments”.