Like many entrepreneurs, Daniel Lewis created Brooklyn Tailors to fill a void in the marketplace when he was unsuccessfully searching for the perfect suit. He recalls, “To me it seemed like everything was either very traditional, high-fashion or trend-driven. I wanted something that felt modern, with a slimmer, sharper silhouette, but was still classic and timeless: Something that felt cool, but understated. And, I didn’t want something that was mass-produced, glued together on a factory line. I wanted a handmade suit made from quality materials. I couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars, so, we set out to try to design that suit ourselves.” He launched Brooklyn Tailors in 2007 out of his Clinton Hill apartment.
Now, with the help of his wife Brenna, Lewis offers custom and ready-to-wear from his Brooklyn storefront, as well as through retail partners. “We launched our wholesale line in fall of 2010,” he says. “The first account to pick it up was Journal Standard in Japan and they’re still one of our best accounts. Our main retail partner in the U.S. is Barneys New York. They’ve been carrying the collection for the past three years and have worked closely with us to expand the line and create exclusive pieces especially for them.” Key items for spring 2016 include an Italian cotton oversized check dress shirt ($185 retail, made in Portugal); a handmade Italian hopsack wool suit in heather indigo (jacket $710, vest $234, trousers $285, all made in Nepal); and a sun-faded linen unstructured blazer ($465) and chino ($195, both made in Portugal) in graphite.
I had the opportunity to check out Lewis’s studio space in Williamsburg this week to view his spring 2016 collection. Lewis says that for spring, he chooses fabrics that are sturdy yet breathable. His approach to tailored clothing is more casual: you won’t see any dark, pinstriped suits in his collection, instead there are subtle patterns and textured fabrics such as a black seersucker that he used for a bomber jacket, suiting and a tie.
Lewis also talked about plans for expansion: he’s moving into a bigger building that will house the store, studio and office space all under one roof (currently, there are two separate locations for the studio and the store). “We want to create a welcoming vibe for the guy who isn’t a ‘suit guy’ but wants or needs to wear a suit.” Tailored clothing is all full canvas (starting at $1,000 retail) and Lewis says his unconstructed softcoat business is growing. Most jackets are two-button (with the occasional rolled three-button) and pants are flat front (although he is offering single pleat shorts for spring).
Lewis has done an incredible job of creating a relaxed, inviting atmosphere to his studio. The collection is approachable and he has perfected this idea of modern classic clothing.
This is an extended version of “Modern Tailors,” a story that appears in the August 2015 print edition of MR magazine.