Cary Grant was a devotee. So was Gregory Peck. So were Hollywood's The Kingsmen. Generations of stylish men have long set aside the time it takes (up to four fittings) to acquire a coveted bespoke suit made just for their long legs or broad shoulders at the Savile Row house of Huntsman. And now those devotees—and a new set of converts—no longer need to make the trip to London to dress themselves in Scottish tweed trousers and Cheshire-made overcoats. The bespoke men's fashion brand has at last planted its hand-made flag in a seventh-floor atelier on 57th Street in Manhattan, within walking distance of a large portion of its dedicated clientele.
"You'd be surprised how local our buyers are in New York," says Huntsman creative director Campbell Carey, who came up through the ranks as an apprentice cutter (an eight-year program) and still suits up influencers, CEOs, and the great-grandchildren of founder Henry Huntsman's original jodhpur patrons.
Custom suits take at least two fittings to become "a second skin," he says. “But they last forever. I have gentleman coming in with their father's suits and they're still in mint condition. We have seen suits from the 1920s, and as long as they've been looked after, they are still perfect," he says. Carey himself has around 20 (he favors stripes and three-pieces), which he airs out and never takes to the cleaners. "You shouldn't dry-clean them," he advises. "We recommend sponge-cleaning them about every six months, which we do for our clients. It's a process."
Unlike off-the-shelf or even other high-end suits, each Huntsman jacket is made by hand from start to finish by the same craftsman in Cheshire. It has six layers, from British wool (they work with 8,000 different options) to horsehair ("to give it its shape") to the satin lining. Their best-seller is the one-button navy blazer with slanted double pockets. "It's a less-is-more look," says Carey, in his thick Ayrshire brogue. "It's where we start with our clients, before guiding them to more personalized looks."
Young new adopters of the Savile Row house are in luck: The heritage brand is at last launching a ready-to-wear line of six cuts that start at about $2,250 for a two-piece suit. The next level up is called Made to Measure, which is factory-made but tweaked to a customer's specs—and costs significantly more. Neither comes close to the matching the quality of the bespoke suits for which Huntsman is best known, which take six to nine months to create and cost upwards of $8,000. "We have done pleated arm holes for orchestra conductors and even suits for women," says Carey. About 30 measurements are required to get the suit just right, with up to four fittings or more.
Appointments can be made by email (email@example.com) and‚ for now anyway, aren't too difficult to come by. But don't wait too long. "Unfortunately, bespoke tailoring isn't scalable, and there are no shortcuts, so we can only make about 1,000 suits a year," notes Carey. Good things come to those who wait. "We always say that when someone sees a man in a Huntsman suit, they should say, 'You look great,' not 'Your suit looks great," he adds. There is no label, no branding, no indicator that the custom suit was handmade in Cheshire. "The way the suit fits should be what people notice. You wear the suit, the suit doesn't wear you."
Take the city's slowest elevator to the seventh floor of the building a few doors from Carnegie Hall and you'll walk out with a suit that adds an inch to your height and a spring in your step. "The suit maketh the man, as they say," adds Carey.
Ready-to-wear suits, from $2,250; bespoke suits. from $8,000; 130 W. 57th St.; 646-590-2695; h-huntsman.com.