David Kamali and Isaac Shaer, who have just opened Badger & Welsh at 41 Middle Neck Rd., have high hopes and great expectations for their fine line of custom men’s clothing and accessories, especially the brand that they’ve named their store after.
“We created the brand,” said Kamali as he sat with Shaer in their spacious, luxuriously equipped and newly-renovated space. “The idea of the brand is to bring premium quality. The styling is a little more on the fashionable side but it’s capable of doing anything. We are old school and traditional in the way that we construct our garments, but we’re also very up-to-date and capable of doing the very modern looks.”
Kamali and Shaer have known each other since childhood and grew up in Great Neck; however, they didn’t start working together until about four years ago.
“When we started, we weren’t making a high-end garment,” said Shaer. “We were making basics and both the Badger & Welsh brand and company grew as we learned from some of the better tailors of our generation.”
“They taught us about what a garment really should be,” he explained. “Over time, what we’ve tried to do is to bring value at the best possible quality.”
“It’s not just suiting,” adds Kamali. “It’s shirting, it’s accessories, we make custom-made belts and we make our own neckwear. We’ll have several lines of shoes. The store is not complete. When it’s done, we’ll have a lot more accessories. Because we’re custom we have the flexibility to service anyone at any age for any style.”
They originally had a men’s store on Cuttermill Road, just around the corner, but outgrew that space and decided to make a move at the end of last year. The growing recognition of the Badger & Welsh name has motivated them to feature the brand upfront at the new location. Badger & Welsh clothing is also available at Tailors By The Shore, their shop in Port Washington on Soundview Drive and at their Manhattan showroom, 155 W. 45th Street.
They eventually hope to open several more locations, especially in the city.
Badger & Welsh’s specialty is creating handmade customized, full-canvas, high-end fabric suiting. The advantages of canvas are many, according to Shaer. Less expensive (fused) polyester-based garments actually use glue.
“The glued garment, you’re cutting the pattern, pressing the fabric together and you’re done in a matter of minutes,” he says. “A canvas suit, wrinkles less, conforms better to your body and lasts longer.”
“With a full canvas garment,” he explains, “you’re building up layers of natural fibers. There’s no machine. You’re doing it by hand. Then you actually attach it, set it properly. It’s different for every single garment you’re creating. It’s a lot of manual work. It cannot be replaced by a machine. It’s an art form.”
Kamali and Shaer also offer a ready-to-wear line that can be finished in a matter of days. The custom process can take four to five weeks.
Why so long? “We’re using such high, in-demand tailors that you have to wait your turn,” answers Shaer. “Actually, four or five weeks is a blessing because some the tailors might even take 20 weeks, if you’re not with a strong-enough company. They’re so busy but we do get a high priority because we do such large quantities with those tailors.”
Both men place a heavy emphasis on their strong relationships with their customers as a key to their success.
“A lot of our customers come to us for guidance as to what they should wear,” Shaer explained. “We’ve created a space here in a very comfortable way where we want to encourage our customers to come in even if they’re not coming in to make a purchase.”
“We want them to enjoy the space that was built for them,” pointing to the large coffee bar, flat screen TVs and conference room that have been installed. “Come in, have a cup of coffee. We enjoy the rapport of people trusting us and enjoying the experience.”
Kamali feels that their roles are similar to that of a barber’s. “A good tailor is like a good barber,” he says. “You trust a barber to make you look your best. You want to work with a person you trust, who ‘gets’ you. We want to be that person.”
“I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing people dressed well and happy and enjoying our product, enjoying the experience,” adds Shaer. “We’re going to sit down with you when you come in, understand what your needs and goals are. We’re a family business and our customers are part of that family.”