SMITH’S MEN’S STORE has been a fixture for Lake Forest residents since 1937, styling men and filling their closets with everything from knitwear to dress shirts; blazers to trousers. It matches signature men’s looks with fragrances and skin care.
And when the new owners, Kip Helverson and Trey Gonzales, took over in 2019, they made some modern updates while maintaining the classic aesthetic. Not only did they refresh the look and feel of the store keeping it fresh, yet familiar, they recently added a whole new, much-needed element—an in-house tailoring department.
With more than 50 different brands focusing on men’s sportswear, business attire, casual pieces, and formalwear, Helverson and Gonzales saw the opportunity to offer custom tailoring, making it a full-service haberdashery. Although in the past two decades, there hasn’t been a high demand in suiting as there once was at the store before the millennium, the owners recognized a shift in mindset. Today’s sophisticated customers would rather invest in well-fit suits and individual quality pieces over mass-produced department store or off-the-rack clothes, increasing the longevity and cost-per-wear.
Enter George Moya, a master tailor and the newest member of the Smith’s Men’s Store team. “George has built a tremendous career fitting and tailoring gentlemen for custom, bespoke clothing and we feel privileged to have him join Smith’s,” says Helverson. Moya is not just a master at his craft, but he’s also a great tutor, too. “We’ve learned a lot from him and he’s really helped us up our game,” adds Helverson.
Fit is just as important as color and style. Very few men are built for off-the-rack clothes.
“Properly fitting clothes are flattering to gentlemen regardless of their height, size, or weight,” explains Gonzales. “We frequently tell clients to focus on the fit, feel, and look of a garment when they try it on and not to focus on the size or label.”
Now that the store offers ready-to-wear, made-to-measure, and bespoke suiting options, tailoring is an essential part of the shopping experience. Ready-to-wear can be purchased and worn off-the-rack, but many times, slight alterations are made to the garment to offer a perfect fit.
“Made-to-measure enables a client to pick the style, fabrics, lining, buttons, and finishes,” says Helverson. “It’s then manufactured off-site for the first fitting and then finished in-house with George.”
Enter bespoke tailoring, which offers the same options as made-to-measure, but is a more iterative process and manufactured in-house by Moya. Fabrics at Smith’s can be sourced from almost anywhere in the world. Some fabrics Smith’s carries are manufactured in Italy, from ateliers like Loro Piana, or the British Isles, such as Harris Tweed.
There will be additional brands and designers coming this fall, as well as Smith’s own private label items, which means Moya’s tailoring will be in high demand. Moya is in the store Tuesday through Fridays during store hours and to ensure a superior customer experience, appointments are highly recommended for tailoring or custom clothing.
Smith’s Men’s Store is located at 770 North Western Avenue, Lake Forest, 847-234-5866, smithsmensstore.com.