Phillip Dryer creates made-to-measure suits with a highly bespoke element for grooms and groomsmen.
With his sense of style and passion for precision, German-born Phillip Dryer has created an innovative business, offering made-to-measure suits and shirts, which are customised to create the ultimate personal statement for a groom on his wedding day.
Phillip, who has been in South Africa for the past six years, originally lived in Cape Town with his Namibian wife, where he studied business at university. He had previously worked in the clothing industry, running his family’s wholesale firm in Germany selling womenswear. Today, he runs his successful made-to-measure menswear business in Johannesburg.
When he was looking for a decent suit to wear for graduation, Phillip noticed there was a gap in the market for hand cut, customised, platform pieces. “I had a choice; either buy a very expensive branded suit or a cheap alternative. So I looked around to find where I could find a bespoke suit. That proved to be extremely expensive.
“In England, a suit is made to measure, and the price is negotiable. Not in South Africa. A tailor-made suit in the UK will cost you in the region of £4,000 (that’s approximately R92,000 with the current exchange rate). In Hong Kong, you will pay US$1,000 (R64,000). In South Africa, the price of a tailored handcrafted suit is exorbitant. But since I started my business, I can offer a suit in a choice of excellent fabrics for much less (between R10,000 and R12,000).
Of course, the process is different. “Tailoring is a craft. Tailors create bespoke tailored suits over a period of 60 hours. We are not tailors. We are bespoke, made-to-measure specialists who offer a product that is far superior to an off-the-rack outfit.”
The suit-making process involves using a choice of existing patterns for jackets, pants and waistcoats, which are then customised and personalised with a ‘toolbox’ of specific items – collars, cuffs, buttons, etc. “We also offer a choice of more than 80 different linings and 200 different fabrics,” Phillip explains. “It’s very important to create a perfect fit, which we do by taking the client’s measurements.” Another vital aspect of creating the garments is only using 100 percent wool, silk and cotton fabrics.
Phillip’s reputation has come not only from his choice of offerings, but also his meticulous attention to detail to create the perfect tailored fit. “Little tweaks make all the difference,” he says, demonstrating how he measures a shirt sleeve, the length of a jacket and explains the importance of finding out whether the groom will be wearing a watch on the day as this will impact on the width of the shirt sleeve.
The groom is then able to choose the fabric combination of his choice, either to complement the bridal outfit or the wedding theme. He can also have the exact combination of garments custom-made for him, including the shirt, jacket, pants and waistcoat.
Another advantage of this type of process, Phillip explains, is having a customised pattern that can be used time and again. As Phillip says, it’s a repeatable made-to-measure system. But for the groom, it’s about finding the right combination for a suit or tuxedo for his big day. Phillip then employs a production plant that focuses on creating the made-to-measure garments, whether it’s just for the groom or for his groomsmen as well.