Although designer Duncan Quinn originally studied to become a lawyer, his custom-made suits are not the kind one would want to wear to a deposition. They appeal to rock stars like Green Day more than they do Madison Avenue attorneys and Wall Street bankers. Most lawyers, he says, “can’t afford them,” and most bankers “are too conservative.” Freelance journalists, for the record, can only stare at them in envy. Prices start at $1500.
He originally got started in the business as a hobby when he was living in London, where it is more common to get one’s suit custom-made than off the rack. Pretty soon, friends started asking for special orders, and word of mouth spread. Quinn now has a thriving business with shops on both coasts, and plans to expand to Dallas in the near future. Still, he spends most of his time in New York, and was busy assisting a customer in his SoHo shop when I arrived to interview him.
This coincidence gave me an inside peak into his process. The first half of his work is technical. For example, the man he was fitting had broad shoulders, and conventional tailoring would have made the suit look uneven. So he adjusted his measurements accordingly. The other half is aesthetic. He gauges a customer’s style as soon as he enters the shop.
For those more reluctant to experiment with style, he suggests a more conservative suit, and then persuades them to accessorize boldly with shirts, ties, cufflinks, and pocket squares. With a grey suit, he points out, “you can get away with murder.” Others have no problem making outrageous choices. One Russian woman requested that her fiancé’s suit be made entirely of the silk of one of the ties for their wedding.
What one finds on the racks and the shelves is only half the inventory. If you want any item in the store in a different color or pattern, just ask if it can be done.
Duncan Quinn has two stores, one in New York, and the other in Los Angeles:
8 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212 226 7030
8380 Melrose Avenue # 100
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Phone: 323 782 9205