The Suit-Maker

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Daniel Friedman, Co-founder of Bindle & Keep

Why start a bespoke-suit company?
Two reasons: The first is that I’m five-foot-five and pretty thin. While many people know how to take measurements for short guys, they don’t know how to make them look great. Also, there tends to be a lot of smoke and mirrors in the suiting business.

Smoke and mirrors?
Meaning any kind of “up-sell” with details, like if someone says something about contrast lining and wants to charge you an extra $40 for it. Same goes for working or surgeon’s cuffs and also having your name engraved inside the jacket. People do these things to pad the profits on their suits.

So which details are worth the extra money?
A lot of guys are getting back belts now, because they saw them on Downton Abbey. It’s a half-belt that doesn’t cinch; it just gives the back of the jacket a little more weight. When people used to wear longer coats and ride horses, they’d hook the coattail to the back belt to keep it from getting messed up. Morning coats are also huge; it’s what Prince William wore to his wedding.

What advice do you have for short grooms, in particular?
Look for a suit with a narrower shoulder, a shorter jacket, and pants that are a bit tighter in the hips. These details make you feel taller. A lot of short guys are also a little stockier, so when they get a suit off the rack, it looks great in the shoulders but they don’t have the height to carry off the rest. That’s when you look like the part in Beetlejuice where everybody shrinks.

How many measurements do you take on a typical bespoke suit?
About 40. There are two kinds of custom suits: made-to-measure and bespoke. With made-to-measure, they’ll make something like 1,000 jackets, keep them unfinished, take pointed measurements, then alter or finish them. Then there’s truly made-to-order, or bespoke, which is what we do. We buy the cloth, and we make it from scratch.

What fabrics do you recommend for fall and winter?
Tweeds. One of the companies we work with, Holland & Sherry, makes most of the high-end stuff for Savile Row. Their fabrics are super-warm but they breathe really well.

If you were getting married tomorrow, what would you wear?
Heavy, raw wool in a dark charcoal, with soft, natural shoulders, and all the bells and whistles, beginning with a back belt and ticket pockets.

Who is your suiting style icon?
Ralph Lauren. I especially like his late-sixties, early-seventies looks, when the shoulders were narrower and the pants were short enough to show some sock.

What does the future of suiting look like?
Bell-bottoms. After going so narrow, where else can you go? Look at the Beatles circa 1965, then look at them crossing Abbey Road six years later, all flared out. I can’t wait for that to come back.


Illustration by Hanna K. Lee

“If you’re short and slender, check out Brooks Brothers Kids. We’ve had clients all the way up to five-foot-ten fit in their clothes and they look great—like you’re wearing a Thom Browne suit, but paying children’s-department prices.”

The Suit-Maker