I needed a dress hemmed, and fast.
Working in fashion, it often happens that I luck into great deals on clothes. Most of the time, however, those clothes come in worn-by-a-six-foot-model sizes, which requires a bit of tailoring. In this instance, the deal at hand was a floor-length watery blue dress that hit my hot little hands just one day before a friend's wedding. Finally 70 degrees outside and you've got a hot new dress you want to wear to a party? You know the feeling.
But whither a quick-and-decent tailor? In life, one needs a Mission: Impossible-esque crack team of experts — only instead of weapons, demolitions and technology, your experts specialize in seams, soles and cleaning. Unfortunately, however, we don't often have such reliable resources in the city. Much like everyone always seems to be looking for a good dentist or a good OBGYN (it's true!), everyone always seems to be swapping the names of good "shoe guys" or "pants guys" over dinners, brunches and coffee.
I've spent many a morning before work standing on the worn pedestal at Hong Kong Jack on Waverly in the West Village, and while the work has always been excellent, it ain't fast. So I called around and Googled, and stumbled upon Beyond Bespoke, which actually seemed to embrace the idea of "same-day."
When I called on Friday at 10:30am, their Midtown location was booked, but their "unadvertised location on the Lower East Side" could fit me in today (shady?). I got to their Allen Street address around lunchtime, which was housed in a non-descript dry-cleaner-meets-tailoring establishment. I waited about 15 minutes with two kids who seemed more like aspiring DJs than tailors before getting the dress pinned by their resident expert, who swept into the store with his phone ringing off its holster and an eye on his van parked outside.
When I came back at 6pm, my dress was ready, and I got to drink cocktails in a warm breeze at the wedding reception in a dress that didn't trip me every time I took a step. That said, the whole thing felt more like a drug deal than an alteration.
Why is it that we whisper the names of the lady who fixed that impossible-to-fit pair of pants or the guy who managed to re-sole a favorite pair of ten-year-old shoes with such hushed reverence? And I've never been recommended to "the best" tailor in the city and found that he worked in some clean, pretty office. No one would believe they were any good. Truly great tailors, cobblers and cleaners are meant to reside in the low-lit, tucked-away corners of the city — almost like they're terrified they'll be found out.
These days, it's a lot better to get a cheap dress hemmed or a pair of old shoes re-soled than it is to buy something full-price. So I put it to you, dear reader: What hidden craftsmen have you found? Who's making your silk trousers into harem pants this spring? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to email me at email@example.com.