Harper & Jones Founder Drew Jones on Building a Better Bespoke Brand
By: Kyle Langan
Every man should own at least one custom suit, says Harper & Jones Co-Founder Drew Jones. For this Dallas-based entrepreneur, that go-to is a navy sharkskin suit in a modern cut — something that’s sleek, versatile and, hands down, will never go out of style.
I remember when I graduated college, my gift from my aunt and uncle was a customized suit fitting and tailoring experience. There was something so luxurious about going into the shop, feeling all the fabrics, perusing all the colors, and finally choosing a garment that would be uniquely mine.
The tailor put me on a tall block and took my measurements; the experience felt steeped in tradition, yet exquisitely modern because the suit would be a garment that I helped design, in a sense. It was a rush.
When I sat down with Drew Jones, he talked to me about the inception of Harper & Jones and what inspired him to be part of the menswear world.“I admit, my experience was pretty similar,” says Drew. “Except mine wasn’t for a first job — it was for a first date. I had my first custom suit made for a first date with my now-wife. Cliche as it sounds the rest — for my family and my business — is history.”
The makings of a made-for-you brand
With a story as romantic and personal as Drew’s, it’s not hard to imagine why the Harper & Jones brand flourished. Because Drew started the brand as a young man, he ventured into the custom suit world with a certain naivete that he partially attributes to his success. Starting out so young, he admitted that everything felt attainable, so he dove into the business headfirst.However, Drew discovered that growing a menswear company was admittedly harder than he initially thought. Luckily, he thought on his feet and entered a national competition from Inc. Magazine and Alibaba in which he placed second overall, winning him a $25,000 business grant.After the coverage of the competition was picked up by a local newspaper, orders for Harper & Jones’ custom suits started flying in. It was at that time that Drew made the decision to shift Harper & Jones from a volume-based custom suit maker to a luxury brand. Many of the clients who flocked to Drew right after his competition win, are still clients of his today – over a decade later.“I wanted every bespoke suit to be perfectly handcrafted and I wanted the client experience to be very intimate and personal,” Drew says. “That’s hard to do in bulk.” Simultaneously, Harper & Jones opened showrooms in Dallas, Houston and New Orleans. “It was the same with our showrooms,” Drew says. “I wanted that experience to be very personal, too — like you’re walking into a home. Our clients want to come in, take time to themselves, and oftentimes enjoy a little bourbon or wine. You can’t underestimate that part of the experience. Suddenly that client isn’t just connecting to a salesperson or an amazing photo on a website. They’re connecting to a brand — they’re seeing, feeling and experiencing Harper & Jones.”
What it means to be Harper & Jones
This shift to luxury was a defining moment for Harper & Jones and has helped build the brand and expand the clientele. While every suit is 100% personalized and customized to the client, all Harper & Jones suits have two signature components: first, there’s a specific lining design on the inside of each jacket, finished with hand-picked stitching. Second, Drew explains, is the construction of the shoulders. “You can always tell a Harper & Jones suit by the shoulder,” he says. “This is the most important part when it comes to constructing a sport coat or suit jacket. In the custom world, most people don’t cut their shoulders like we do. It’s so original that we have two patents on a tool that gets an accurate shoulder measurement every single time. That’s how unique the shoulder measurement and the way we construct the shoulder itself is to our brand.”
What comes next for Harper & Jones
While the Harper & Jones brand continues to grow and scale, like many fashion brands, COVID-19 forced them to shift some of their 2020 plans. With more people working-from-home, Drew and his team jumped into action to respond to their clients immediate needs. They began creating custom crewnecks and sweaters, custom denim, bomber jackets, custom shoes, and more casual jacket styles that are perfect for in the office and out.
“We realized our clients knew exactly what to wear to board meetings, but weren’t sure how to dress on weekends — or even when they were Zooming in from home offices,” Drew says. “We wanted to provide them with a simple solution. It’s an incredible collection that captures that sleek, chic, modern, made-for-you aesthetic we’re known for, but in pieces that are totally wearable no matter where you are right now.” Find out more about Harper & Jones at www.harperandjones.com