The Bespoke Club
Torontonians are suddenly clamouring for personalized shoes, hand-sewn jackets and one-of-a-kind accessories. A primer on the extravagant rise of made-to-order fashion
Exquisite handmade leather shoes are the ultimate luxury
LeatherFoot opened a year ago in Yorkville, offering bespoke footwear that made local clotheshorses swoon and spurred plans for a second location, opening soon in the Financial District. Completely custom pairs, where the wooden mould is made according to the client’s measurements, start at $5,000. But guys can also personalize the details of a stock style to their specifications for a flat $200 surcharge. Here, the anatomy of a $1,790 loafer by Saint Crispin’s. 24 Bellair St., 416-967-3668
Buckle: Brass? Silver? Gold? Matte? All are available.
Elastic: Comes in a host of hues and patterns, but some guys opt out altogether in favour of more leather.
Stitching: Any colour of the rainbow. It’s a little detail that makes a big difference.
Underside: The shoes are cobbled using wooden and metal pins, which makes it possible to shape them to your foot. The cobblers can even use brass pins to mark your initials in the sole.
Uppers: The leather—calf, suede, shell cordovan, ostrich or crocodile—can be hand dyed almost any colour. Buyers can also choose the level of burnish, which affects how bright the colour looks.
Sole: An eight-millimetre leather sole comes standard, but there are 40 other options, including thicker leather or rubber for Toronto winters.
Our favourite Toronto tailors, from bargain basement to the five-figure stratosphere
108 Queen St. E., 416-214-2840
The Quebec brand takes a high-tech approach to tailoring: buyers make all their choices, from fabric to lapel type to stitching, on a touchscreen.
Price: From $325. The suits are sewn in Asia to keep costs down.
Bragging rights: In addition to taking measurements the old-fashioned way, staff also use a 3-D scanner, which looks like it belongs at airport security.
26 Wellington St. E., 416-566-2041
Michael Nguyen excels at doing things most tailors won’t. To wit: a $20,000 bulletproof suit for a diplomat who works in war zones.
Price: Made-to-measure suits, based on existing patterns, start at $995; bespoke suits, where a new pattern is created for each customer, run at least $1,800.
Bragging rights: Garrison made Drake’s Raptors suit—the one lined with a Vince Carter jersey.
82 Bloor St. W., 416-972-0556
Rosen pioneered custom suiting in Toronto decades ago. His Bloor Street flagship still employs 14 tailors, who rival Savile Row’s best in their attention to detail.
Price: From $1,100 for made-to-measure; bespokes start at $3,500 and go way up from there.
Bragging rights: The names on the in-progress rack read like the ultimate directory of Bay Street bankers and lawyers.
114 Yorkville Ave., 416-323-0909
The luxury brand runs its own tailoring school, as well as one of Italy’s best wool mills. Kiton’s new Yorkville outpost is the first dedicated store in Canada.
Price: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Depending on the fabric, suits easily reach $20,000.
Bragging rights: The K50 is made entirely by hand, taking about 50 hours in total. They cost up to $70,000 each.
Five e-retailers delivering customization to the masses
Each season, Joker’s offers a new collection of styles, then leaves it to shoppers to pick the type of leather and colour for every part of the shoe. $199–$483. Jokerscloset.com.
Buyers can add their initials, or even a message in their own handwriting, to card cases, clutches and other accessories. From $145. Anyahindmarch.com.
The boot-focused startup brings the made-to-measure experience online—all you need is 10 minutes, a computer and a measuring tape. From $191. Poppybarley.com.
The watchmaker offers 16 colour choices for the band and buckle. For the face, there’s a library of designs or the option to upload a picture. $47. May28th.me.
At this virtual take on the T-shirt print shop, customers upload photos or illustrations and use them to design an item of clothing (current styles include a sundress, a jumpsuit, and several tees and tanks). $38–$193. Printallover.me.
The Toronto perfumer Aromachology takes a no-fuss approach to custom fragrance
1 | Scent seekers start by answering 10 questions that sound like something from an eHarmony test: their beauty regime, their wardrobe, their ideal vacation. Based on the answers, Aromachology founders Kirsten Menkes and Ashlee Firsten pick one of five bases, which range from floral (white lily and sandalwood) to dessert-like (raspberry and chocolate).
2 | Next, buyers sniff and select up to three top notes from 15 options—all named after personality traits. “Inspiring” is citrusy, “empowering” is sweet, and “seductive” is musky (of course).
3 | Menkes and Firsten blend it all together to make your personalized potion—and keep each formula on file for refills.
$90 for 50 mL. Jacob and Sebastian, 622 Queen St. W., 647-345-0478. By appointment.
Mina Ely, co-owner of the luxe uptown tailor shop Isaac Ely Bespoke, recently launched a custom service specifically for women—to the delight of A-listers in search of the perfect fit
Bespoke for women seems like a no-brainer. What took Toronto so long?
I don’t know. It was needed, though! Too many women wear ill-fitting clothing. I just saw someone with a safety pin holding her shirt together. It’s a problem.
How are your male and female clients different?
Women are a lot more work. We have hips, we have breasts, and we’re harder to fit. But our female clients have fun with the process, and they come in with ideas. Men just say, “I want a navy suit. Do what you think is best.”
Measuring can be a touchy-feely undertaking. Who does that part?
My husband, Isaac, is the tailor, so most of our clients prefer to have him handle everything from start to finish. But if anyone feels awkward about it, I step in.
High-powered executives who don’t have a lot of time for shopping. We also have a U of T professor and several wealthy socialites. Our last client was an artist who loves our boyfriend shirts. She has three of them now.
That’s a big investment, given that shirts start at $350 apiece.
We sell a luxury item. But when you splurge on something that has taken a lot of time and effort, you treasure it—like a vintage Chanel bag.
What’s the most extravagant item you’ve made so far?
We made a riding-style jacket in Scottish wool, with leather for the collar and elbow patches. Something like that can cost $5,000 or more. It was for a 23-year-old whose father is also a client. Her mother gets stuff made, her brother gets stuff made—it’s a family addiction.
Anyone we know?
I’m sworn to secrecy!