9:00am PT by Chris Gardner
Personalized Suit Jackets Become Hollywood Status Symbol
In this town, it's not the suit that makes the man, but what's inside — you know, the jacket lining. More and more, custom linings and monogrammed stitching have been popping up at awards shows, becoming the latest red carpet status symbol.
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu turned up at the SAG Awards wearing what looked like an ordinary black tuxedo, until he unbuttoned the jacket to flash a bright green lining with his film's name all over the fabric. At the Producers Guild Awards, Jason Blum wore a navy blue suit that had a lining pimped out with his Blumhouse Productions logo.
Where are they going for the custom work? Blum had his “Exclusively Tailored for Jason Blum” work done by L.A. haberdashery Eleveé Custom Clothing, and he even gave The Hollywood Reporter an early peek despite wanting to save the big reveal for the upcoming premiere of his Happy Death Day 2U. That film opens Feb. 13.
Meanwhile, Chu turned to Chicago designer Ge Wang and his ESQ Clothing, which also has done custom work for hip-hop star Chance the Rapper and country singer Thomas Rhett. Wang tells THR that he met Chu through his Crazy Rich Asians star Jimmy O. Yang, whom Wang’s sister had worked with. ESQ dressed Chu for premieres in Singapore and Los Angeles, and Wang says the collaborations have been crazy-good.
“Jon is an extremely humble, down-to-earth guy, which is refreshing. He’s a great guy to work with and he gives me a lot of creative freedom,” says the designer, who transitioned to fashion after working as a lawyer. He couldn’t find suits he liked, so he decided to make his own. Now, six years in at ESQ, the design house specializes in custom suits, tuxedos, shirting and suit accessories.
ESQ ramped up its custom linings and monogram business after candy company Skittles approached them about designing a custom suit for candy fanatic and pro footballer Antonio Brown. Custom suits start at $2,500 and custom linings go for $500 and can include family photos, graphics, logos, signatures and “just about anything,” says Wang, who has lined in his own suits and tuxes with artwork and photos of his wife and dogs.
“Everyone wants something that’s individualized, and it’s now a lot easier to access that. We understand that it’s not for everyone, but what greater way to do this if you do? You can still wear it to court or your desk job on Wall Street but still have fun on the inside. And people only know it’s there if you want to show them.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.