WEST LOOP — Why is dressing sharp always a good idea?
"The guy who is the boss, the guy who is the leader, it's the guy who dresses better," said custom clothier Zach Uttich. "It's also the guy who gets the girl."
After outfitting more than 2,500 men at Suit Supply and Mark Shale, Uttich is striking on his own, opening BLVDier at 211 N. Green St. in Fulton Market. The shop, which specializes in custom suits and clothing for men, opened earlier this month.
At BLVDier, the 30-year-old aims to fill the gaps he sees in the Midwestern man's dressing options. Some custom retailers are too expensive for most men, while options at an affordable price fail to offer the personalized service that leads to lifetime relationships, Uttich said.
BLVDier's success, Uttich hopes, will come from melding the old with the new.
"I want to be able to take that old aesthetic — that heritage mentality about tailoring, the impeccable customer service — and at the same time, make your [suit] pattern on a CAD program, customize everything, and deliver it in 3½ to 4 weeks," he said. And Uttich wants to offer a more affordable custom experience — BLVDier suits start at $895.
Although Chicago-bred men have gained a reputation as being less fashion forward than their big-city counterparts in New York and L.A., Uttich said there are plenty of men in the Windy City who are willing to invest in their look now.
"There's certainly an enormous market in Chicago if it's done at the right price point with the right quality of fabrics," he said. "The Chicago guy needs a little more homegrown attention when it comes to customer service, but they're forced to shop at Nordstrom and Saks and big department stores."
While there's a huge concentration of young professional men in the city, Uttich said there's only about 25 places to land a custom suit.
"And the reality is that includes really high-priced options," he said.
Uttich's clients typically fall into one of two categories: the man looking for "a solution to a problem" who can't fit in a typical off-the-rack garment, or the man who loves to design something from scratch "that you can't find anywhere else in the world."
At BLVDier, clients can choose from 40 different buttons and 120 different linings alone. The custom fit isn't the only sell — a fully-canvassed suit made with nicer fabrics will look great for years, he said.
Uttich says it doesn't take much for men to trade the classic Midwestern uniform — ill-fitting pants, an ill-fitting dress shirt and "a North Face zip-up" — for something special.
"The scale of a guy looking bad to decent is a small step," he said.
For starters, every guy should own a classic blue blazer, Uttich said — it easily elevates a pair of jeans, grey dress pants or khakis.
For the guy on top of his sartorial game, a double-breasted jacket is a great investment piece.
Uttich, who lives with his wife in Edgewater, said that he's always known his future would be made-to-measure.
"I was that kid wearing bow ties and suspenders growing up, reading my mother's Vanity Fair and becoming enthralled with men in suits," he said. BLVDier "was a 10-year goal that turned into a six months goal."
Want to check out Uttich's new shop? Ahead of Valentine's Day, the store will host online jewelry store Heirlume at the studio from 4-7 p.m. Feb. 7 for a pop up showcase of gifts for Valentine's Day. BLVDier will premiere its spring/summer collection of fabrics, too.
To attend the event, RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.