Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Paul Stuart

Paul Stuart store exterior, photo from NY Times

The NY Times has a story about Paul Stuart, the clothier and haberdasher on Madison Avenue. It's one of the Man of Mode's favourite shopping destinations in New York.

The store is next door to Brooks Brothers, and it feels like a more stylish, more upscale version of Brooks. The shop is decorated with antiques, including a large Flemish tapestry next to the entrance. The Times describes the overall appearance as being like "the giant walk-in closet of an Illuminati Grand Master".

Their selection of ties is stupendous, with an especially good selection of silk knit ties in every possible colour. They also have an excellent range of bow ties, if that's your thing.

Paul Stuart suits are cut in an elegant hybrid of Anglo American styles. The jackets have some shape at the waist, but are still relaxed and not too fitted. Most have side vents. The trousers are the best cut I've found in ready-to-wear, with a very elegant line -- again, falling somewhere between the looser American cut and narrower English style.

Cashmere navy blazer from Paul Stuart

Notably, their suits are available in the widest selection of sizes in the City. Not only do they offer short and tall sizes, but they also have medium-tall (something I've never seen elsewhere) and extra-tall. They also stock jackets in odd-numbered sizes, so if a 41 medium-tall fits you best, this is the place to go.

A couple of criticisms.

First, the article mentions the sweaters and ties in odd colour combinations. I find that their autumn/winter collections are always very nicely put together, but their spring/summer clothes invariably have some real clangers. It's usually strange mixtures of pastel colours, which might be OK in Palm Beach (probably their target demographic), but which don't appeal to me at all.

Second, the staff in the store can be very overbearing, even downright pushy. Most of the sales staff are incredibly charming and helpful, but I've had bad experiences with a few who were much too aggressive.

The store design doesn't help in this regard, making it difficult to browse without the help of a salesman. Downstairs, all the ties are all in glass cabinets -- although I've always found the sales staff here to be excellent. Upstairs where the suits are kept, the salesmen hover by the top of the stairs, and the floor manager immediately assigns a salesman to each customer who arrives. There are some first rate salesmen here, but there are a few who are way too pushy for a store like this. The hard sell, used car salesman approach doesn't work here, and Paul Stuart needs to take a closer look at a few of the people who work upstairs.

NY Times article - "Restraint feels right, doesn't it"

Paul Stuart
45th and Madison
New York


Easy and Elegant Life said...

When I was in retail, I had the pleasure of working with some first rate sales people. The secret to success for most of them was to actually LOVE the clothing. They just enjoyed showing potential clients how nicely made things were and how well they looked in them.

Tim said...

I have been a customer for almost 40 years, and they remain a style icon for me, though there are things I liked better in the past.

But some things don’t change. You’re entirely correct about the behavior of the salespeople of their tailored clothing. But it was that way when I began shopping there, so evidently it’s preferred, and I wouldn’t anticipate much change.

Your blog is very enjoyable! Thank you.