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Bespoke tailors: How do you grow your client base?

Cary Grant

Distinguished Member
Sep 8, 2008
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This question is pretty narrow/specific to our resident SF haberdashers and I have sent similar inquiries directly to them, but for those I have missed, I'm wondering about the following:

I don't work in the clothing business but have thought about it from time to time. Mostly I'm just curious as I think about how I run my business and how it compares to others.

I know bespoke tailors, whether free-standing independent business or those within larger retail operations, depend on their long relationships with clients they've developed over the years and the resulting clients that come in through their word of mouth.

My question for the business leaders:

How do you focus on client development now? Do you rely almost entirely on existing clientele plus word of mouth?

Do you employee a specific person(s) on your floor whose primary job is to develop bespoke clients and business? (Versus just a floor sales associate who sells the belts, shoes, OTR etc) Or is that you, the owner or the tailor? Or is it just the responsibility of all sales people?

Despite the current economic climate, are you bullish or bearish about this aspect of your business?

Any light you can shed would be appreciated.


Stylish Dinosaur
Jan 3, 2008
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i met one who wasnt a tailor, but an image consultant at a local networking event for business people.

Seems like a great way to get started especially. The one bespoke tailor in my area setup shop in a fairly lofty part of town, and just lets clients walk in the door.....however i dont expect he will actually survive this financial mess.

He does a few things wrong, i feel for the price he doesnt offer quality thats on par or better, doesnt ever discount, and he's extremely pushy with him image.....unfortunetly for him, his image is much more NYC financier, and the local crowd is much more trad sack suit crowd, Ralph lauren is about as fashion forward as it gets for our crowd.

So if you plan to do it, highlight what makes your product special, which i'm assuming is going to be handwork, buttons, and fabrics. Highlight the construction. Everyone pushes fabrics, but unless you are in the know with fabrics, its hard for the average person to feel the difference between many of the high end fabrics.

But what you certainly can do is show them the difference between sewn canvas construction and glued, show them the difference between ****** plastic buttons and the MOP or Horn buttons on what you make. Show the features.

Make sure your clothing matches your clientelle, you're not going to repaint the face of your area, if they're a trad group, cater to trad, fashion forward...then you might push a more james bond style image.....and of course blend in your own takes on these.

Just my opinion.

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