The Return of Men’s Suits: Q&A with Jim Rieser, executive clothier at Hunter & Lords

After a year of casual dress, formal wear is back, with wider lapels and fuller silhouettes to accent current trends.

Sherry Beck Paprocki
Jim Rieser, executive clothier at Hunter & Lords

Face it. We all thought the suit business was gone when the pandemic hit. After all, who needed a custom suit when everyone was sitting at home? 

Well, as it turns out this summer, we’re dressing up and going out. There are plenty of weddings and graduations and funerals. (Maybe too many funerals.) 

On a brighter note, this fall is sure to bring a generous dose of special events—as far as we’re concerned, everyone deserves an award for getting to this point in 2021. There will be charity galas and baptisms and holiday parties. Oh, how we’re looking forward to those holiday parties. 

We’ll be celebrating and hugging and so glad to greet friends and family we haven’t seen in a couple of years. But circle around to our closets and everything seems to have changed. Maybe that’s why Jim Rieser, executive clothier at Hunter & Lords, got back in touch. 

Rieser, a Central Ohio resident, oversees the custom creation of suits for CEOs, high level executives and anyone else who appreciates bespoke goods. Here’s what he has to say these days. 

What changes can we expect from the suit industry this fall given the slant toward more casual style? 

Even in the rush of casual style 10 years ago we saw a parallel suit renaissance. That’s when everything moved to slim fit, short pants and coats, but the nuts and bolts of the suit were still there. Now casual is more oversized, and we are seeing the same trends carry over to suiting: wider lapels, fuller silhouettes, pleated slacks, etc. 

What is the most important aspect of looking good in a suit? 

Fit, fit, fit. Also, good quality fabric, super 120s [the quality count for woven wool] or above. 

Did the suit business have a lull early in the pandemic? 

“Lull” would be an understatement. 

Where are your suits made and have you experienced any lag time in getting them due to the pandemic economy? 

Since 1932 [they have been] made in our shop in Knoxville, Tenn., by our very gifted Italian and Turkish tailors. We are now fourth generation, family owned and we will never outsource our heritage. 

How long does it take you to produce a custom suit? 

Usually six weeks from the day measurements are taken. 

What does a good suit say about the person who wears it? 

It says, “I respect myself and I respect you.” If you walk into the nicest restaurant in town wearing your workout clothes, you aren’t showing the chef, sommelier and all of the other professionals that are there to give you a great experience that you appreciate them. If a salesman walks into your office in his golf outfit, are you going to believe he’ll make your business his priority?  Or is he just on the way to the driving range? Dressing with intention shows the world you live your life the same way.