Two style startups get personal

Bespoke Boston
By JACQUELINE HOUTON  |  October 17, 2012

Enter the unassuming brownstone at 91 Newbury, walk up two narrow flights, past faded carpeting and flickering fluorescents, and you might be surprised at what you find: Alton Lane, a 2,000-square-foot custom-menswear showroom that feels more like a luxe secret clubhouse — just as its creators intended.

"It makes my palms sweaty thinking about going to stores," says cofounder and CEO Colin Hunter. "Most guys feel comfortable sitting at a barstool." That's where clients can browse fabric swatches while sipping something from the bar and watching the flat-screen. The vibe is more "residential than retail," adds cofounder Peyton Jenkins, director of customer experience — hence the cozy leather couches and quirky cardboard takes on taxidermy.

Opened this month, the Boston outpost is the three-year-old brand's third, after NYC and DC. It's open daily for one-on-one appointments. The goal, says Hunter, is a Savile Row experience — without five fittings and months of waiting.

They take a three-part approach to tailoring, stocking samples for guys to try, measuring by hand, and breaking out their secret weapon: a 360-degree body scanner. Using tech like that of the Xbox Kinect, it scans in 15 seconds, offering a fuller picture of a client's frame. "You could have 10 guys with 18-inch shoulders, and a shirt would fit them all differently," Jenkins explains.

This month also brings women a new custom-fashion option, this one homegrown. Launching on October 19, e-clothier Bow & Drape is the reincarnation of Boston fashion startup Zoora, which had previously served as a platform for multiple indie designers. Now it aims to create its own made-to-order tops, bottoms, and dresses.

Bow & Drape is the brainchild of Harvard alum Aubrie Pagano, who got the idea after searching — unsuccessfully — for the perfect dress for a family wedding. For the debut collection, she tapped recent Fashion Star contestant Sarah Parrott, who created six silhouettes with customizable colors, hemlines, sleeves, and detailing.

Pagano wants to manufacture in the US, so she started a Kickstarter campaign, ending on October 18, to secure the needed financing. At press time, it was halfway to its $30,000 goal. Head online to see whether Bow & Drape sewed things up.

ALTON LANE 91 Newbury Street, Boston. 646.896.1212 ::


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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Startups, style, Fashion
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