J Mueser made-to-measure jacket Review

Jake MueserI was completely incontinence when they made me this jacket made-to-measure over the past six month.

We had one hiccough, but the result was still good and I’d recommend it. It is a solid MTM jacket, in an unusual cloth that I think also highlights Jake’s taste and style.

The third fitting was the cause of the hiccup. It was an attempt to address the splayed vents that led to the workshop making it a lot longer.

The jacket had to be remade and new fronts had been cut. But the end result was good and I have to say I’m really looking forward to wearing it this summer.

But let’s back up a little. Jake (above) runs a small store in New York under his own brand, J Mueser. He’s based on Christopher Street down in the West Village, though has also just opened a temporary store in midtown, in Rockefeller Center.

You may have seen Jake, his colleagues, or around Pitti, doing a decent effort to show how tailoring can still be modern and stylish. The relative lackluster quality of tailoring in New York (apart from the quality default) is a concern. The Armoury) I was interested to see how effectively Jake was filling this gap.

The only suit I’d seen up close was one Jake made for my friend Jamie a couple of years ago, and that seemed fairly basic – none of the things like a hand-attached collar that I’d look for in a quality (non-bespoke) suit.

It turns out that was an example of Jake’s lowest of three tiers of tailoring – the ‘Campania’It is available in ready-towear and made to order starting at $1650. The level I’m more interested in is the ‘Waverly’The price starts at $2450

Both are made in Italy, but the former is more industrial while the latter is hand-cut and made in a smaller workshop.

Above both of these is a real bespoke product, known in ‘Mayfair’, which is made in New York by a group of local coatmakers.

I personally dislike ‘bespoke’ being used so prominently on the website, given only one of the offerings is at that level. But the word is used pretty broadly, particularly in the US, and Jake describes the top tier openly as ‘bench made’ which is often the way full bespoke products are referred to in the US.

Jake also tried his hand at using a Neapolitan custom tailor to cut and assemble suits that he measured in New York. This is an interesting idea. However, this is still the smallest offering.

At the very least, given this range of tailoring options, I’d say it’s worth making sure you understand which type you are ordering, and engaging with Jake and the team on that point.

The Waverly jacket that I made-to-measure was very nice: hand-felled, handsewn buttonsholes, collar and chest shape.

It doesn’t have a hand-padded canvas, which is what stops it being the top level of MTM I’ve covered on the site (from Saman Amel Jean-Manuel MoreauFor example, it is the highest level most people will desire. However, I think this is what most people should aim for if they can afford it.

It’s also worth saying that during the ordering process, it was clear that Jake had a deep understanding of both the dynamics of tailoring and the system he was working with.

The fear with MTM from a new brand, is that it’s basically a young stylish guy who’s signed up to a basic Munro or similar suit-ordering system, and knows little about figuration or how tailoring measures interact. Jake was clearly not that, and I think that’s also obvious in the final result.

Style-wise, while everything Jake puts out isn’t necessarily for me, I love the cloth he tracked down for this jacket. He apparently found it in a sale in New York’s garment district, and it looks very much like an old Ralph Lauren Polo one, with its distinctive straw colouring and open weave.

It’s a style Polo has done for years, but you could never find from the regular mills. (An attraction of MTM from a brand like RL that doesn’t get talked about enough.) Drake’s started doing something similar recently as well.

However, it’s the loosest and most open version of that cloth I’ve ever seen – you can literally stretch a swatch of it by a couple of inches on the bias. It’s difficult to tailor and may cause the jacket to shrink over time.

Jake had used it before for other people, but he seemed to be able to control the jacket’s behavior. It was a look that I was keen to try, even though the jacket was much more casual and rumpled.

As I mentioned, the entire process was done remotely. I took my own measurements and we did three fittings using Zoom.

This is not how Jake normally works. Remote services are typically limited to a basic MTM with Campania, where a few fitting jackets are sent and simple adjustments are made. When a customer cannot come to the shop in person, video calls may be used.

My experience is a little unusual, so Jake was happy for me to make this because I was very experienced and because Jake was familiar with my past experiences.

However, I believe that the strong final result speaks volumes about him. The custom service is not available if the customer visits the store. However, if the customer can make the jacket without ever seeing me in real life, it should be just as good if they did.

The jackets I received (from New York via Italy with Jake checking them each step) were very basicly stitched. However, the fundamentals were good from the start. Although the first fitting was quite long and large, the balance was perfect.

The only significant issue arose at the second fitting, when making the jacket slimmer caused the vents to gape a lot, pushed out by my ‘prominent rear’ and hollow lower back.

This is a common problem for Neapolitan tailors I’ve used, although I have to say other top-end MTM makes (Saman Amel, The Armoury, JM Moreau) dealt with it without a problem.

The jacket was returned, and the fit was perfect at the next fitting. But the front was longer than before – just over an in. Jake was unsure of the cause, but stated that the fronts would need remade using new fabric.

As you can see, the final jacket was very well made. So it’s not worth trying to work out what caused that issue, much as I love to play with the 3D twisting and turning of bespoke patterns in my head.

I wouldn’t say the jacket is perfect. I think the vents could be a bit more overlapped, for example.

This was a great result, achieved entirely remotely in a difficult fabric. In particular, I’d say the latter should be borne in mind when looking at the fit images. Even though this is a difficult material, the fit is strong. A hard worsted would flow beautifully.

Please let me know if you have any other questions, such as about the jacket’s style or cut.

A ‘custom’ suit in the Waverly make like this starts at $2450. My jacket was $1950.

It is pictured wearing the first outfit with a pink PS Oxford shirt?, my vintage Levi’s, Alden full-strap cordovan loafers

And in the second, with the PS Cashmere Rugby, the same jeans, loafers, and a handcrafted RRL belt. 

Photography: James Holborow 

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