There’s much more to buying a suit than meets the eye and Brian Lipstein, Founder of Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants goes above and beyond the traditional retail experience. Since 2007, his Rittenhouse shop not only provides clients with custom made suits, but spends time educating them as well.
“The average person doesn’t know what separates an expensive suit from a cheap suit, and it comes down to the expensive suits being sewn together and the cheaper suits being glued,” he says.
“I actually have four jackets that I cut apart so I can show clients from the inside the guts of the garment.”
Lipstein’s own lack of knowledge in regards to suits provided the inspiration to start his business back in 2007. In his senior year of college, a friend’s father who was a master tailor, led him through the process of putting together his first suit.
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“I didn’t have a role model to teach me how to dress growing up,” he says. “Getting that education my first time around, inspired me to educate others.”
And how did his first custom suit feel? Lipstein admits that people started treated him differently when he wore one.
“I was just 21 years old when I got it and Vango had just opened with a VIP Lounge upstairs. There were 15 people waiting to be let in and I walked right past security. They let me go in without questioning,” he recalls.
He adds, “Donovan McNabb [of the Philadelphia Eagles] was up there and I sent him a drink and got to chat for a good half hour and made some connections. I attribute all of that to looking a part.”
According to Lipstein, a great fitting suit will make an impression by acting as a second skin.
“It should drape over the body and compliment areas that are good for you and hide those that aren’t. You want ¼ inch to ½ inch of shirt cuff showing out of the sleeve and a clean break at the hem on top of the shoe,” he advises.
The clientele at Henry A. Davidsen ranges from little boys getting suited up for their First Communion to men in their 80s who still enjoy dressing well:
“Our core guys are in their late 20s to early 50s. We create everything from scratch and design from the inside out. We will start with his personality and drive the design from that aspect,” Lipstein says.
Each appointment begins with a beverage and an image consultation, followed by the educational portion.
“The whole process can be anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours depending on how in depth the client wants to get,” he says.
For gentlemen interested in suiting up for the first time, Lipstein recommends a budget of at least $1200 for something basic, but most clients spend between $3000 to $4000 for traditional custom, and between $1800 to $2200 for made-to-measure.
“The suit is worth the investment because it will last five times longer if properly cared for. The cheaper suits last between two to three years,” he says.
What’s more, investing more in a custom suit will serve you better in the long run, being more comfortable and fitting more “crisply,” adds Lipstein.
Henry A. Davidsen Custom Tailors & Image Consultants is located at 1700 Spruce St. on the second floor. Appointments are made in advance.