Our Made To Measure program provides custom men’s suits, tuxedos, shirting and other garments, tailored to each client’s specific taste and shape for a fit-like-a-glove feel only a personal fitting can provide. Director of Made To Measure Alex Sandlin says the experience of slipping on a custom-made garment is incomparable. And he should know: Alex oversees custom fittings from his base in our Houston store, and also travels to each of our ten locations to meet with customers. Last week, as the program enters its annual holiday push, we sat down with Alex to learn more about how Made To Measure works, why he believes so deeply in the process, and what it means to him to don an MTM creation.
Journal: How did you get involved with the Made To Measure arm of Billy Reid?
Alex Sandlin: I joined the company six years ago and I was instantly fascinated with MTM. At that time, Billy conducted MTM appointments, and not only did I want to meet Billy, I wanted to have something made specifically for me by Billy. He made me a pair of trousers and from that point, I was sold. Soon after that, I started asking questions, setting up appointments, and eventually started conducting appointments on my own.
J: What do you love about the MTM program?
AS: I love meeting and getting to know the customers during my appointments. Immediately, I have to “break the ice” when I sit down with a customer. I have come to meet some of the most interesting people. My most memorable appointment was a few months ago in New York. I met with Ricky Smith at our Bond Street store to have a suit made. Ricky was a bit quiet at first, but over the course of the appointment I learned that he was a magician! To make a long story short, at the end of our appointment, Ricky performed a magic trick (with playing cards) that left me and the Bond Street staff in awe. It was pretty wicked-awesome.
The process of getting to know someone over the course of an MTM appointment is always exciting, as it draws new opportunities and challenges with each customer. The fact that I can provide customer service that is over the top and have a company to back me up makes anything possible. It allows me to say yes more often than not, and in the end I know that our customers are getting everything they want out of an MTM garment.
J: What can clients expect when they make an appointment for a fitting?
AS: Expectations can be everything. The more about a customer we know prior to the appointment allows me and the store’s team to start preparing for that fitting and customizing some of the approach. If a customer schedules an appointment to have a tuxedo made for his wedding, and is really looking for a deep navy, I make sure that we have a vast variety of navy formal fabrics at hand for the appointment in addition to some suggestions of my own.
Each appointment is different, though. I treat each as an opportunity to meet someone interesting, measure and design something specific to a customer’s preference, and maintain the Billy Reid aesthetic. Some customers know what they want and some book an appointment not knowing what they would like to have made. I love being able to steer folks in the direction to fill in the gaps.
J: There are many different fabrics available for custom suiting. How do these reflect the Billy Reid aesthetic while also creating a unique garment for the client?
AS: When we refined our MTM Program in April 2014, we sat down and went through the current season collection. We started by pulling fabrics that were available from our American-made Heirloom suiting and shirting collection. We then added to that assortment to reflect that same aesthetic specific to the season. In this way, we can treat Made To Measure as a direct extension of the collection. Our MTM program falls in line with what Billy would design and choose to make himself, and I think this is the best way to stay in line. There are always new fabrics offered throughout the year. I like that we keep the fabric collection current and fresh.
J: Is there a favorite suit you’ve seen come to life through the MTM process? What did you love about it?
AS: Honestly, there is not a suit that I know better than the ones that I have made for myself. I wear a suit five, sometimes six days out of the week, so you could say that I live in a suit.
After an appointment and once the factory starts production on a suit, there are six weeks of excitement that builds until it arrives. Just like my customers, I have this same excitement and anticipation after I submit an order into production. There is nothing like the first time you try on a new MTM suit. It fits like a glove and if you are like me, you want to wear it for the rest of the day. The most recent suit that I had made was a fit I feel I have quickly perfected for myself and nothing fits quite as well. The fabric is heavier than what I am used to wearing in Houston, and the pattern is a bit more busy than anything I own. No joke, I am actually wearing it at this moment. I am hooked on MTM for life, you could say.
Made To Measure appointments can be scheduled and conducted by trained staff members at all of our store locations. Want something to wear in time for the holidays? Book your appointment by Monday, November 3 to ensure a timely pre-season delivery.
Alex will be taking appointments in our Georgetown store on Tuesday & Wednesday, Oct. 27 & 28, and Atlanta on Thursday, Oct. 30, before heading back to Houston on Friday, Oct. 31. To make an appointment with him directly, send an email to Alex.Sandlin@billyreid.com.