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By Katie Schroeder | Photo: Nathanael Filbert | March 6, 2015
Chicago’s newest clothier, Oliver & Rowan Bespoke, goes beyond custom.
With a family tree stretching to Wales, where his grandfather was a tailor and grandmother a wedding dress-maker, it’s only fitting Joseph Mapes continues in the family biz. After a decade in the industry, he launched Oliver & Rowan Bespoke, which offers a complete range of menswear, including suits (from $1,895), shirts (from $195) and tuxedos (from $1,995). And make no mistake, these pieces are truly bespoke, not made-to-measure. Mapes creates an individual pattern for each client from scratch, and every garment is made by hand in the United States.
“There are going to be men looking for custom, and they’re not my clients,” he says. “I want the ones who know and understand what goes into a handmade suit. I want them to appreciate the entire process.”
That process takes time, Mapes says. “If you’re buying a suit in less than 4 1/2 to five weeks, it’s not bespoke.” After an assessment of a client’s current wardrobe and work industry needs, it’s on to fabrics (he works directly with six Italian and British fabric mills, such as Biella, Dormeuil and Scabal), style and measurements—of which he takes up to 60. After two subsequent fittings of the pre-finished garment, there’s a final fitting followed by tweaks that take a day or two.
The new West Loop location also offers a selection of high-quality, U.S.-made accessories and casualwear from local brands including Lee Allison (ties), Libero Ferrero (leather goods) and Drift Eyewear, as well as HollenWolff (cuff links) and a custom denim line Mapes created with Raleigh Denim, which sources its material from the oldest denim mill in the country. And on the horizon for spring, he’s releasing his own collection of golfwear—which will include moisture-wicking polos, and pants and shorts in solids and fancy plaids—in collaboration with Chicago-based clothing manufacturer Stock Mfg. Co.
Even as the business grows, Mapes maintains a by-referral-only business model, and he invites clients to relax during appointments, which isn’t hard thanks to a cigar lounge, draft beer system and scotch cabinet. “I want to take really good care of my core clientele, and [keeping it by referral only] allows me to give them the best service possible,” he says.