This month's Neighborhood Spotlight features Michael Andrews, owner of a Bespoke menswear outfitter in NoHo. His Great Jones Alley store is a one-of-a-kind space where him and his team design entirely custom, hand-made clothing with their clients. His offerings include outerwear like suits and overcoats, pants and jeans, shirts, ties and other accessories.
The name of your store is Michael Andrews Bespoke, how do you define Bespoke?
Bespoke was originally a British term coined on Savile Row, indicating that a client’s cloth had “been spoken for”. Over time, it came to denote the highest level of custom tailoring that was practiced on Savile Row and elsewhere. To qualify as true bespoke, a garment must be cut from a unique pattern drafted for a specific client (this is in contrast to made-to-measure, which modifies an existing stock pattern) AND the garment must be made principally by hand. As a lawyer, I believe words matter so we are sticklers to these requirements. This phrase is unfortunately frequently misused by both the uninformed and the unethical.
What got you started in the bespoke industry?
In a prior life I was a corporate lawyer at a large firm and had to wear a suit and tie to the office every day. Being somewhat of a hard fit, I began having my suits custom made. I fell in love the idea of custom but was inevitably disappointed with the execution. I figured I probably wasn’t alone in that view, so in 2006 Michael Andrews Bespoke was born.
How do you go about the creation process for your catalog?
Everything we do is custom so there isn’t a catalog per se. We have a lot of pieces on display for inspiration, but it is ultimately the client who “designs” the final product. We just help guide them through the process of selecting the right fabric and styling details. We strive to ensure clients make selections that fit their lifestyle and compliment their physique.
What trends do you see coming up for menswear? What accessory would you say should be in every man's wardrobe?
It is an exciting time for menswear. Although suits have been somewhat in decline, there has been a corresponding rise in tailored business casual. This is great because guys have a lot more choice and flexibility when designing a sport coat than they do with a suit. Custom jeans and custom swimsuits have also been hot items this year.
A guy needs a lot of different accessories in his closet. My current favorites are our custom belts, which can be made in over 200 different leathers and exotic skins to complete any look. The other is our selection of unique handmade umbrellas. You never want to get caught in the rain, but if you do at least you can look dapper.
What sets Michael Andrews Bespoke apart from other men's fashion retailers?
It’s our unparalleled focus on the client, which is a carry-over from my days as a corporate lawyer. Our mission is to ensure each client looks and feels his best, and we take that responsibility very seriously. This means giving expert advice up front and then cutting a beautiful garment of the highest quality that fits like a glove. We back this up with a 100% unconditional satisfaction guarantee.
What's the most rewarding part of owning your business?
I love being an entrepreneur for so many reasons. I take pride in having built a business where clients are friends and my colleagues are like family. While it can be stressful having 45 employees relying on me, it also keeps me very motivated. I also particularly enjoy our wedding clients. It’s exciting to be a part of a client’s most special day. In fact I was just at a wedding attended by thirteen clients - it was really an amazing experience.
What made you open your store in NoHo?
We wanted a location that was downtown but centrally located, so NoHo was an obvious choice. I can’t imagine a better location than Great Jones Alley for a business like ours.
Do you have any interesting or unique stories from your time in the neighborhood?
Our alley is frequently used for TV and movie shoots, which is a lot of fun. We’ve met actors from John Wick 3, Elementary, Bored to Death, Gotham, and many more, and a key scene in the pilot episode of Suits was shot in our store. Perhaps my favorite story happened several years ago. We had just finished taking an order from Marvel for the character of Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) in Netflix’s production of Daredevil. The day before Vincent was scheduled to come in to be measured, I realized I was sitting next to him on a bike at Soul Cycle. I introduced myself and we’ve been friends ever since.
What's your favorite thing about NoHo?
I love how central it is, and how vibrant it’s become since we moved in ten years ago. There are tons of great restaurants, bars and shops and it is a five minute walk to Union Square, SoHo, Greenwich Village and the East Village.
What are some of your other favorite businesses in the neighborhood?
Wow, where to start? Il Bucco Alimentari for a take-out breakfast (their egg sandwich is second to none), the Smile for a sit-down breakfast (LOVE their bacon), La Colombe for coffee, Lafayette for a business lunch (Nicoise salad is my go-to), Vic’s for a casual lunch, Fish Cheeks for happy hour oysters, Bar Primi for pasta, Il Buco for panna cotta, Acme for a rare night of dancing, and Equinox, Soul Cycle or Rumble to work it all off.
Before we go, how many blazers, jackets, etc. do you own?
I have about 80 suits and jackets. Don’t ask about shoes!