As one of New York’s finest bespoke clothiers, if not the country’s, Jon Green is privy to the wants, demands, preferences, problems and personal trivialities of some of the wealthiest people in the world.
I try not to throw around such dramatic language too often, but in Jon’s case it is simply the truth. Jon’s suits start off at about $7,500 and go straight up from there. Add in some of the more luxurious and rare fabrics to which he has access and you’re looking at something touching $25,000.
Had you asked me a few weeks ago what I thought about dropping the cost of a new car on a single suit, I probably would have said something both unflattering and dismissive. Not only is that a lot of money, what possibly could go into any garment which warrants such a ridiculously high expense?
Then, as fate would have it, I was recently invited by Mr. Green to visit him while on a trip to New York. Let me just cut to the chase: I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and joined the church of bespoke.
Past the deceiving simple paper sign on the building’s front door, the elevator took me up to an elegant salon and tailor’s workshop. It is a place of business but also of consul; a comfortable lounge filled with mannequin forms sporting suit jackets in various stages of completion and bookcases filled with fabric books. Up front is the tailor’s workshop fronted by a bank of large windows overlooking Madison Avenue and capturing all the natural light.
Jon won me over without even trying. Unfortunately, I won’t be wearing a Jon Green suit anytime soon, but that’s not remotely the point. The world of bespoke – certainly at this level – changes how you think about clothes. As Jon noted, “The price of what we do is directly related to our costs of cloth, workmanship, location and the one-on-one personal attention we prefer to provide our clients. This includes the requisite number of fittings needed to ‘get it right,’ not just ‘get it out the door.’ The real value in bespoke clothing is enhanced by taking the time to get it as good as it can be. But then forgetting about it. After all, it is possible to polish a diamond to dust.”
As an added bonus, I visited Jon at the same time as Dougal Munro and Malcolm Campbell from Holland & Sherry, the Rolls Royce of fabric makers. Dougal is the president of H&S’s North American operation and Malcolm is Managing Director of Joseph H. Clissold, H&S’s premier fabric mill. Our discussion about English fabrics, their role in the world of bespoke, and H&S’s remarkable innovations was fascinating and one that a that I will document separately, along with some excellent H&S material covering fabric education and the impact of color on one’s wardrobe.
Malcolm Campbell (t), Dougal Munro (b)
A formally trained musician and clothing salesman, Jon is every inch the courtly clothier. He is not, however, a “yes man” arbiter to wealthy power players. As he said to me regarding a client whose requests were not representative of a Jon Green suit, “it’s my suit until I hand it over to him.” Translation: we’ll work it out, but I have a reputation to uphold and there is an expectation of what a Jon Green suit means. No animosity, simply a standard of excellence and detail that is not quickly, or easily, bent.
However, Jon rarely needs to take such a stand. His clients are lovers of clothing and dress for themselves. They come to Jon because he is the best and that is what they want; they have found a friend and confidant who will do anything in his power to meet their needs and will also not hesitate to gently redirect an errant choice in fabric or customization.
As he explained on several occasions, Jon is not a tailor – he is a clothier. While the tailor with whom he works is clearly one of the finest, Jon brings to the engagement the vision and execution of a head coach or chief strategist. He has created a brand known to those for whom exceptional service, privacy and collaboration are paramount.
Jon is, at heart, a teacher. While we never really discussed the cost of his clothing (honestly, it just slipped my mind), he indirectly explained why his suits cost so much. Every inch of a Jon Green suit is hand cut and assembled. Pockets are fully fitted into the canvas body which itself is carefully formed to your body’s curves.
The entire jacket is basted until the final assembly – no finishing stitches anywhere. This means that throughout your initial fittings, often six, the suit is completely disassembled and re-cut to match your evolving pattern. And your pattern, hand drawn by the way, is hand updated by the tailor at each step. It will take months and once completed will fit you as well as humanly possible.
Will it be perfect, probably not to Jon. But that is part of the beauty of bespoke – it is hand crafting in every sense of the phrase, not a single shortcut or prefabricated piece of anything. And all that hand stitching! That alone is worth half the cost right there.
Jon has been selected to by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey North America, as part of a celebration of American craftsman, to create a bespoke suit for its chairman, Renaud Dutreil. I’ll be updating you on this remarkable process as it moves along, the only menswear blog to have such remarkable access.
Msr. Renaud Dutreil
I am also happy to say that I’ll be working with Jon to periodically bring OTC’s readers the kind of insight and expertise normally reserved for captains of industry and the kind of men who hop thier private jet from Houston just to do a suit fitting. Jon is a wealth of information and OTC is both honored, and a little humbled, to call him a friend.