Suit up

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If you're wearing a suit jacket that doesn't have vents but does have horizontal pockets and pants that have both pleats and cuffs, consider yourself in the market for a suit.

Ryan Newman can help. Not only does he keep up on the latest in men's suit trends, but he shares his advice with clients at Astor & Black, a men's custom clothier service that's based in Columbus. Last week, he shared it with Alive.

"We're doing a lot of slanted pockets, so it's on just a slight bias; narrow lapel - a little bit sleeker look; the side vents; plain-front pants," Newman explained. "And more of a trim fit - nothing too full or boxy."

Astor & Black counts Brady Quinn of the Browns, Jeff Garcia of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carmello Anthony of the Denver Nuggets among its clients, according to Newman, vice president of sales development. But the company doesn't cater to well-paid athletes. In fact, the business revolves around low-cost, high-quality designs.

Business has been good since David Schottenstein founded the company in 2004, applying much the same pricing concept as his great-grandfather did when founding the family's retail empire.

"Other companies, they try to get rich off of one sale to one guy - say, one suit. They have a huge markup," Newman explained. "We work with really low margins, and ...we try to sell multiple suits."

The suits are customizable inside and out, and things like functional sleeve buttons, hand-stitching along all of the seams and an embroidered inside label bearing the owner's name come standard.

"It's handmade exclusively for that individual," Newman said. Many men rely on Astor & Black to get outfitted for an entire season, he said.

But they don't exactly go to Astor & Black. Agents based around the country come to the customers, consulting on fabrics and design features and taking measurements.

The company also does custom sport coats and overcoats and offers a line of sweaters, shoes and belts.

Four to six weeks later, the selected pieces return from overseas, where the company owns a manufacturing plant. A final fitting is followed by tailoring if necessary.

"A lot of the guys that we work with ... they don't have time to go shopping and try things on," Newman said. "Other guys, they don't like to try things on."

Astor & Black Custom Clothiers

Available by appointment