The masters of refined downtown men’s lifestyle have outdone themselves again.
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Freemans Sporting Club was a kind of modern-day menswear pioneer when it unveiled its ready-to-wear line and a made-to-measure suiting program by Brooklyn-based master tailor Martin Greenfield. Now the crew behind it is taking suiting to a whole new level.
On the second floor of Freemans Restaurant, past the private dining rooms, is a bookcase/door. Open it and you enter a new studio space dedicated to fully bespoke suiting, Freemans Bench-Made Bespoke. The company has brought in a small team of tailors and built them a workshop. Seemingly out of nowhere the brand has become one of very few to make truly bespoke suiting in New York City—and one of even fewer to offer a fully rounded men’s custom lifestyle experience.
“It wasn’t planned that way, but we were fortunate enough to have all this stuff to create a real experience—where you can have a drink at the bar, get fitted, go for a shave, and have dinner,” says managing director Kent Kilroe, who first came to Freemans as a customer. “Obviously, if we weren’t able to deliver great suits that men love and that fit them well, though, it wouldn’t matter.”
The transition to full-on bespoke tailoring began when Freemans’ head alterations tailor fell ill a year ago. Looking for a replacement, the team found Felix Aybar, the 62-year-old former head tailor at Tom Ford (and before that, at Armani, Zegna, and… Need we go on?). Aybar grew up in the Dominican Republic, where his father and grandfather were both tailors. He began working as a tailor himself at age 10. “Felix has forgotten more about suits than I’m ever going to know,” says Kilroe. “We couldn’t have done this whole bespoke suit business without him.”
Each customer first meets with Alex Young, the director of suiting, who starts filtering through the fabrics—about 6,500 of them, all from the finest Italian, American, Japanese, and British mills—based on how the customer plans to wear the suit. The next step is to meet with Aybar, who takes 22 measurements, logs a few photos of the client’s posture, and then drafts a paper pattern from which he will construct the suit.
“It’s not uncommon to walk around here at 10 p.m. and find strangers hanging around, and they turn out to be tailors from Tom Ford and Zegna here to take lessons from Felix,” says Kilroe.
It’s the kind of place that’s great for purchasing a versatile instant classic—your two-button notch-lapel suit that’s slim-fitting but not skin-tight—but it’s also a place that likes to flex its creative muscles and have fun. One of the more daring projects was a bespoke kilt. “I think the craziest part was getting through the cultural barrier and trying to explain to Felix what a kilt was,” Kilroe says. “It was amazing watching these guys make it, because it’s nothing like a suit, and it turned out like a real high-end black wool kilt. The customer loved it.”
It’s not a quick process, of course—the average bespoke suit takes anywhere from eight to 10 weeks—but this being Freemans, you can just have a few cocktails and a plate of grilled pork loin while you wait. “That’s why we make you walk down the hall and through the bookcase,” says Kilroe. “It’s to create a unique experience that you can enjoy.”
Ready-to-wear from $2,200, made-to-measure from $3,300, and bespoke from $4,000. Freemans Bench-Made Bespoke: 8 Rivington Street, 212.673.3209