In a place like Washington D.C., having one or two nice suits in a man’s wardrobe is a necessity. Finding a suit–the right suit–however, can be quite the challenge. There are so many different components that go into selecting a suit. We are talking about things like color schemes, fit, durability, etc. which are not usually at the forefront of most guys’ minds when they start shopping. At READ WALL, you are not simply being sold a suit. You are being educated, cared for, and given a fashion solution–which sometimes is not even buying a suit that day! READ WALL does not want to sell you a suit, they want you to own your look with confidence. Such confidence is born out of a relationship that begins as soon as you step into the front door. There is much more to consider than determining if you should wear black or blue. At READ WALL, that conversation is extended to find out how you want to wear the suit, what fabrics and fitting are most comfortable, and how this suit can best illustrate the best version of yourself.
Unlike most men’s fashion stores, Read Wall DC is anything but the traditional “in-your-face” or artificial “70% sale” establishments. Instead, their approach is a laid-back, yet meticulously professional American tailoring and suit design company in LeDroit Park. The shop’s design, marketing communications, and day-to-day operations are performed by a three-headed dog: Jake, Chris, and Conor.
READ WALL’s retail team includes Conor Seigel, Director of Consumer Experience; Jake Shields, Retail Manager; and Christopher “Chris” Treppi.
Q: Tell us who you are and how you got to READ WALL.
(Conor) “I met Read [Wall] at a holiday pop-up that he was doing in Georgetown before we were doing retail. I was still at American [University] and working at Chubby Shorts. That interaction then turned into an apprenticeship over the following summer, which got me a step closer to where I am today.”
(Jake) “I have been working in retail for a few years before I got here. I worked at Brooks Brothers in Georgetown, then I went down to the Paul Stewart store before I got the email from Read about an opportunity with helping the brand grow. That was about a year ago. Conor and I worked at Brooks Brothers together, and I knew him from his work in Georgetown.”
(Chris) “Originally I was a customer of Read’s. I knew he was opening a store so if he needed help to reach out–and he did!”
Q: You all attribute this establishment [Read Wall] to be less of a store of stylists, and more of a clubhouse. Can you elaborate on what this means?
(Conor) “When buying clothes, especially for your professional life there is an undeniable experience that we try to cultivate here in the shop. We try to be very open and welcoming to help create a space where our clients can be comfortable enough to ask their questions and get the right answers they need. Depending on the time of the day, we will offer them water or a coffee as soon as they walk-in. We are trying to make the environment so enjoyable that you feel empowered to sit down, have a drink with us, and try on some nice clothes. From the client side, we want to be a resource for what best fits your physique and so on.
(Chris) “This is a very, non-intimidating retail space. My observation of watching clients buy suits is that as a man you are expected to know how to how to dress, and yet no one really reaches you. So you will often go to the internet looking at a thousand different ways to dress and it can be overwhelming.”
“Remember this is DC. We do not have to sell suits, suits will sell themselves. So the best way to position ourselves and this business is to show that we are not full of crap. We actually want to have a conversation with you, help you figure out what you need or use, and try to match you up with best service for longest amount of time while making you look good. Something you can be confident in when you put it on.
(Jake) “Look, men do not just “buy” things, they usually go to their “guy” to get something. That is my entire philosophy on this whole game: We want to be your guy in suit game. Before that can happen we have to be good at it, we need to know what we are doing–we have to be able to deliver with a likable personality. We do not aim to get quick sales, you know? The suit is going to take 6-8 weeks to get made, so we do not need to rush you in and out of the store. It is not a short-term investment either, so we are going to make sure you are comfortable with the entire experience.”
Q: What exactly is “American tailoring”? What defines an American-style suit?
(Jake) “American style, depending on who is wearing it can be a very fluid concept. Americans have been pretty much adopting English and Italian Suiting since the beginning of this country. If you think back to the earliest of migrant workers, most of them were Irish tailors or tailors in general from their respective countries and they brought those techniques and styles to their children. These cycles have grown and come to influence what is worn today. Sometimes you can look at something as simple as a type of button, to something more complex like the stitching pattern or cut of the jacket and know its historical origins. Generally speaking, an American suit is softer in the shoulder. It is slightly sportier than something made in England. Even with our coats, we may take inspiration from England or Italy.”
Q: How does the process work from start-to-finish?
“First, we might have a conversation about what the client’s current wardrobe looks like. We might ask what do they need in their wardrobe or what they are looking to add? Do they need suits, trousers, shorts, shirts? That conversation then turns to how they wear the clothes they own, how often and where. The answers to those questions help us better determine what kind of fabrics you might need because the last thing you would want to do is get a nice navy blue suit and over wear it because it was not clear where and how you wanted to wear this suit. Then we would discuss lapels, pockets, buttons, etc. before moving on to measurements. All of our suits are made-to-measure, so we take a lot of measurements–somewhere in the 40-50 measurements.
Our signature style is characterized by a high gorge, mid-width lapel, and suppressed waist to highlight a timeless yet modern look. We can accommodate most style requests in our made to measure program in order to provide you a tailored garment that best fits your needs and preference. Made to measure items are completed in 6-8 weeks with prices on suits beginning at $1195 for fabric ends, and $895 for sport coat fabric ends. Generally, the READ WALL sweet spot is $1450 for suits; $995 for sport coats.”
Notch Lapel | 2 Button | Welt Breast Pocket | Lower Patch Pockets | Handpick Stitch
Notch Lapel | 3 roll 2 Button | Patch Breast Pocket | Lower Patch Pockets | Club Stitch
Notch Lapel | 2 Button | Welt Breast Pocket | Lower Patch Pockets | Handpick Stitch
Notch Lapel | 3 roll 2 Button | Welt Breast Pocket | Ticket & Lower Flap Pockets | Handpick Stitch
Q: How do you all dress outside of the shop? What is your style?
(Chris) “I view myself as a practical dresser. So when you get dressed you are looking at environment and perception. I like Chinos and Jeans. I like to create more of my own style, so as long as they are comfortable and they are of a good quality then I am pretty good. I try to dress in such way that highlights my eyes or hair.”
(Jake) “Being from New England, there is a certain prep element that is common in my style. I like darker color Levi’s, loafers or dresser, maybe a button-up. Perhaps some boat shoes. I do wear hats–I have a straw fedora that I will wear in the summer time. If there was a style I would go for it would be a classic English style, nothing too fancy but elevated slightly over jeans and a t-shirt. I like Navy blues, whites, and reds.”
(Conor) “I like Hunter Thompson, Chubbies, Hemingway Style, Bill Murray. Definitely, in the summertime, gotta go with a 5 and a half inch seam in the shorts. Popovers are great. Proper fabric for the weather is a must. I do like adaptations of suiting in everyday wear. Imagine an overshirt, but it is made out of Cosentino wool, which is something a suit might be made out of.”
Q: If there were three words you could use to describe your business, what would they be?
(Jake) “Quality, Value, and Style. We deliver a quality product, with a unique style at a great price, which is uncommon in things we do.”
(Conor) “Confidence and Comfort, but probably fit too!”
Q: What are your tips for selecting a suit?
- Have an idea of what you are looking for and why
- Look at fabric, fit, and construction. Some shops compromise one of the three, so make sure you are getting all of those things. Make sure it fits well and that it’s durable–this is an investment you should proud to wear and expect to last.
- Find someone who you can trust. You want real guidance, not salesmanship.
Q: How do you fill your time outside the shop?
(Conor) “I love being outside. I used to play soccer in school, so I joined a soccer league tin the city so that keeps me going. I do like to drink and play games too, so you can probably find me at Bread Soda. Surfside’s half price pitchers are money too.”
(Jake) “I cycle. I do not compete, but I do enjoy the ride. 20-30 miles, is pretty standard for a day-off ride. So I try and get on my bike and pop into my friend’s shops around DC and catch up.”
(Chris) “I started rowing with a DC rowing team called DC strokes. Nellies, a bar nearby, is one of our sponsors too which is a nice bar. My wife and I like to have friends over and host parties. We only have one weekend day off together so we try and spend that day together doing something.”
Read Wall DC has all the answers you need plus more (no, literally they have beer on tap, and bourbon at the ready!). If you any questions about READ WALL’s made-to-measure suits and apparel, please visit https://www.readwall.com/.