All American Style
Interview: Michael Maher of Taylor Stitch
Taylor Stitch, the All-American shirt company based in San Francisco, has never been about New York Fashion Week “seasons” and trends, (and we agree. Real men’s clothing shouldn’t be caught up in the latest Spring/Summer runway presentation). Instead, Michael Maher and his three collaborators who founded Taylor Stitch, pursue genuine quality. “Well-made” is the catchphrase, and they’re striving to bring that ethos to the discerning modern man.
This week, Taylor Stitch released its latest collection of shirts, called Indian Summer. The shirts show impeccable attention to detail, slim fit, and quality construction that’s sure to last for years. And with this timeless, classic styling, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want them, too.
We caught Maher serving some early morning coffee behind the bar of his latest project, The Common, in San Francisco. “We open at 8am, and from there, it’s a 21 hour day,” he laughed. Maher carved out a few minutes between concerts, art installations, food, and menswear to show Gear Patrol a bit of his world.
Gear Patrol: Tell us the Taylor Stitch story – how did you start?
Michael Maher: It really started in college, when I could never find shirts that fit. And I would see my friends coming back from Hong Kong with these great looking shirts, completely unlike the stuffy ones that you see here in America. They would be using bold patterns and colors, applying that to interesting designs. We decided to bring that concept to the U.S. and started to look into the idea of custom tailoring.
GP: Did you bring the manufacturing back to America as well?
MM: So we went to Hong Kong and did some sourcing, but weren’t thrilled with the manufacturing and quality. It took a while to find right manufacturer here in America. Once we did, it took about one and a half years to develop the fit for the ready to wear.
GP: What was the process of creating the fit?
MM: We used the custom shirts to create it – essentially, we broke down all of the measurements from years of custom orders and turned that into our signature fit. It’s a shirt for athletic guys who want ready to wear, but want it to fit – more room in the shoulders and chest, but a bit tailored through teh stomach. That was the tailoring we were going after, and it’s the same thing that we’re still doing today.
GP: Where has Taylor Stitch expanded from there?
MM:The Durable Goods Concern developed in the same realm. It bothered me that few companies wanted to educate the customer about why things are done the way they are. We put together a couple of pop-up markets to do that – San Francisco Man Up, and Meet Your Maker. Because they were both a success, we recently decided to create a permanent location, called The Common (http://thecommonsf.com/). The concept is to make it really integrated – hosting public events, bringing in new brands, teaching workshops, serving coffee and food, showcasing art, hosting live music. We really wanted to bring that lifestyle to people, all under one roof. It’s a community built around the idea of “well made.” That’s where we are today.
GP: Where are Taylor Stitch and The Common headed in the future?
MM: We are going to continue developing new shirts with Taylor Stitch, as well as a jacket prototype that’s in the works, and ideas for a women’s shirt dress. Basically expanding our product line on the TS side. We’ve also got a few other small projects going. A Home goods line with Kyle from Farm Tactics, and an offshoot bike or cycling gear line. There are lots of other things we’re working on right now.
GP: What inspired your newest releases, the Indian Summer shirts?
MM: Sure. We’re all from North East, so late summer is our favorite time of year. San Francisco doesn’t really have a summer – it’s more like an Indian Summer for the whole season. The nicest time is from September to November: warm and sunny right before the rain comes.
GP: Tell us about the shirts.
MM: They’re a juxtaposition between summery seersucker fabric, but with distinct fall colors and a heavier, fall-weight cloth. There were a lot more plaids to choose from but we consciously decided not to include them in the collection; we went with a classic red/blue and a black watch plaid. Like all of our shirts, it has a button down collar, no pleats, and a lower side-saddle, but I love the unique way that seersucker ages and puckers. As always, we’re keeping things simple, and sticking to our guns with styling, focusing on the fabric and fit. We don’t want the shirts to look like a fashion piece – they’re just simple and classic.
GP: … All American style.
MM: Ya, they are manufactured in San Francisco. Indian Summer will probably be our last collection that gets made in San Francisco, though. We found a better factory in LA that will bring down our price points – we’re focusing on making the product more accessible.