About a month ago, I was invited by Joseph Abboud to join in on an awesome custom suit experience that would range from creating my own suit to seeing it through production at their factory in New Bedford, MA. To kick things off, I headed down from Harlem to the Joseph Abboud flagship store on Madison Avenue. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but that was the beginning of an amazing experience to design and customize my own suit with Joseph himself.
After chatting with him about his story, his brand, and why he believes custom suiting to be so important, the guys and I wandered around the store, snatching up fabrics and ties and everything in between to put together our own twist on Joseph’s unique American style. I started with the shoes and the suit fabric, then built around that. The shoes are suede monkstraps and all around wavy, so that was easy. For the suit, I noticed that the fabric is pretty subtle from afar, but as you get closer, you see all the different colors and natural impurities in the pattern. There were so many options, but this is the direction I decided to go:
After picking out the little number above, we all got fitted for our suits, which was dope because each one of us likes it to fit a little bit differently. The whole point of custom is having it fit so damn well that it feels completely natural. And that’s what Joseph Abboud was able to do for us.
After a few weeks, the suits were ready and waiting for us at the Joseph Abboud factory in New Bedford, MA (about two hours outside of Boston). Not only did we go to pick up our custom suits, but Joseph took us on a tour of his factory. We got to see the behind the scenes right where our suits came together and where Joseph has been making suits for decades.
When we got up to the factory, it seemed kind of like any building, but what we didn’t realize was the sheer scale of how large this place was. It’s like we kept walking and walking as if the factory didn’t end! It’s actually the largest factory producing taillored menswear in all of the Western Hemisphere with over 800 employees. Joseph really stressed to us how important this has always been to him. It’s not enough to become successful and help elevate menswear if you leave behind the community that helped you get there. Having the suits made in America is a fundamental component of the vision Joseph has had for years. Joseph’s factory has always been in New Bedford, and it’s going to stay there. Check out a peek into what we saw:
We were taken throughout the entire process, too, from the outlines of different suit styles and sizes all the way to construction and final touches. Through it all, there was a balance struck between automated machinery and hand made components, which is crucial. The fabric was cut by a laser controlled by a computer, for example, but pieces of each suit are sewn and ironed by hand. It would be way too inefficient (and expensive) to do everything by hand, but it’s important that there is still that element of hand craftsmanship. Afterwards, I met with Joseph to try on the suit we conceptualized and make some last minute alterations.
And then, we had to put on the final product and show off Joseph’s craftsmanship. Safe to say we had some fun with it…
Honestly, from that point on, we all hung out heading back to Boston for dinner. It was smiles all around and it was an honor spending the day with some stylish gents and an American fashion icon. Felt like home by the time we sat down for our own little family dinner. L’Chayim!
Photos by myself & Menelik Puryear.