Oscar Wilde believed that “one’s style is one’s signature.”
For many, clothing is just another routine we perform to prepare for the day ahead. This is especially true for men, who tend to defer decisions of style to their significant others. The rise of “corporate casual” has led to a decline in the sartorial standards that once dominated the office, as more men replace tailored clothing with khakis and polos. In addition, e-mail, the internet and other innovations now allow thousands of men to work from home with little or no concern for their wardrobes.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fewer men own suits. Those that do are likely wearing a garment of lower quality than the suits worn by their fathers and grandfathers. Discount retailers in department stores and malls entice consumers with low price garments that, while affordable, are not durable enough for consistent use. Consumers deserve an alternative to the standard, one-size-fits-all approach to contemporary style.
Ryan Duncan, of Edmond, curates the Cloth and Needle collection and provides his customers with a service unique to Oklahoma. He travels to the customer—not the other way around—with some of the world’s most refined casual and professional brands. Duncan’s Cloth and Needle collection allows men to rediscover the grandeur of well-made clothing. Duncan launched his business after two decades in the clothing industry, where he became a master of tailored and casual fashion. As a concierge clothing service, Duncan spends most of his time on the golf course or at his clients’ businesses. His clients are Oklahoma City’s power brokers and celebrities; his website features Barry Switzer sporting one of the hundreds of sharp looks Duncan has assembled throughout his career.
His specialty—custom, made-to-measure clothing—allows him to create suits, sport coats, dress shirts and other unique garments for customers based on their specific measurements and tastes, along with his own recommendations. Each item made for Duncan’s clients bears some unique characteristic–contrasting thread colors, digitized monograms, ornate buttons—making it a wholly original to the wearer. Duncan’s personal style is emblematic of his personality: confident, comical, eminently resplendent. He understands many of his clients don’t share his enthusiasm for bright colors and bold patterns, but that doesn’t stop him from including a novel detail for each item he curates.
“Anyone can walk into a store and buy a shirt. At Cloth and Needle—you get me and the shirt. My clients are my friends and I’m not going to let my friends buy a poorly made shirt. I believe my clients are a direct reflection of my business. If you look bad, I look bad,” Duncan explains. Many retailers have customers; Duncan has friends. He eschews the formalities that make buying clothes a tedious process. “My business model is not mainstream, but neither am I. I operate by appointment, whether it is at your house or my studio.” He recognizes that many men are retail-averse, and for good reason. “I don’t pressure. I don’t use sales gimmicks. I simply strive to offer my service and experience to every one of my clients.” Duncan’s career in sales—which began inauspiciously enough as an hourly employee at Foot Locker—has allowed him to combine a keen eye for detail with his outgoing personality. “I love what I do because I can see a person’s demeanor change when they wear the clothes I recommend. When you look good, you feel great.”
Men who have never worn a custom suit or shirt tend to see menswear as an obligation and not an indulgence. It should come as no surprise that the clothes offered by Duncan are more expensive than those available at department stores and malls. The fabrics he uses for his clients are the highest standards in clothing and handmade garments require substantially more attention to detail. “You have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to you. Everyone is different and has different priorities. I feel everyone with the means should at least try treating themselves to the custom experience. Most people think of it at first as buying clothes, but in my experience it’s more about how those clothes make you feel.” Two decades of experience ensures that Duncan’s clients receive garments perfectly measured to fit their specifications.
Duncan recognizes that clothing is an expression of style and standards and understands the importance of first impressions. “I’ve found that if you wear clothes that make you feel better, it affects you in a profoundly positive way,” he explains.
When he’s not outfitting his clients with some of the world’s finest clothing options, Duncan is a busy father of two. Working for himself has allowed him greater flexibility to catch recitals, soccer games and other milestone moments for his children.
Interested in curating your own collection of fine menswear? Visit rdclothandneedle.com for more information.