Measure, measure, and measure again

[attach]5869[/attach]Growing up with a father and grandfather in the textile industry, it was only natural for Isaac Ely to pursue a similar career.

“They were always merchants in the apparel and clothing industry and it’s just in the blood,” he says. “I was always fascinated with how things were made.”

Although the North York resident has been running Isaac Ely Bespoke near Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue W. since 2000, he’s been working in the clothing industry since 1989.

“I also had ready-to-wear clothing and the challenges that I had were constantly either with the fit or the size or the colour wasn’t there,” he says. “So I wanted to overcome all of those things and this is what I found a passion for: Something that fits them properly and also has a unique style that suits their personality.”

Ely says knowing the human body is the most important thing to consider when creating bespoke garments such as handmade and custom-tailored suits, shirts and pants.

“How a person stands, high shoulders, low shoulders, stands erect or stooped, even the pants, some people have one hip higher than the other, so all of those things you take into consideration when you make a bespoke garment,” he says. “When we get into something custom, the styles and choices of the fabrics become endless and then on top of it is the fit of the garments, that’s what makes a difference.”

After finding out about a client’s lifestyle and personality, he says they take measurements and pick out the materials they want to use to create the outfit. Once he’s created a skeleton of the garment, a proper fitting takes place to make sure the measurements, fit and style are correct.

“From there we go to a second fitting and make sure everything’s right on,” he says. “Usually 95 percent of the time after the first fitting I’m dead right and just 5 percent is like minor things.”

Once he’s created a pattern to fit a person’s body, Ely says it’s much faster to create a second piece.

“The next time he wants to order something else — suits, shirts — we can pretty much go to the second fitting,” he says. “We just see the garment on him and then we finish it off.”

Over the years, Ely says he’s enjoyed how menswear has expanded beyond boring shades like black, navy and charcoal to encompassing more colour.

“Even the customer who can be extremely conservative, we can do some fun colours in the lining of the jacket,” he says. “So at least it shows some flair.”

Ely, who is in the process of adding a line of ladies’ shirts, uses exclusive fabrics from England and Italy by textile producers like Dormeuil, Ermenegildo Zegna, Scabal and Thomas Mas.

Reflecting on his career, a memorable experience that stands out in his mind was the time he finally convinced someone — after three years — to let him create an outfit for him. The man, he says, is now one of his most loyal customers.

“When you start, it’s really hard to get new clients because nobody knows you from a hole in the ground, so you have to persuade the customer that you are going to do a great job,” he says. “And when somebody gives you that opportunity and you truly can surpass their expectations, I find that’s the greatest joy.”