Since you get to choose from some 45,000 English and Italian fabrics at this custom clothier, there’s only a 0.00045 percent likelihood you’ll show up wearing the same suit as your pal. Bonus: bragging rights that you share a tailor with Chance the Rapper. (An ultraviolet jacket and trousers like these go for $5,650.) 555 W. Jackson Blvd., esqclothing.com
The Best of the City | Major Tailor
After years of struggling to find the perfectly fitted suit, real estate lawyer Ge Wang made the decision to go the custom route. The hobby became a midlife career change, and now he’s the founder of ESQ Clothing, a new bespoke suit shop in the West Loop. “I’ve always had a passion for clothing,” Wang says. “It’s kind of a running joke in our family. When I was little, I used to watch my father dress in his superbaggy suits and go to work.”
Although Wang admits he still can’t get Dad out of his drab duds, his penchant for expertly made garments has attracted a following of sports pros, including hoopsters from the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets, as well as Chicago Bear Matt Forte. His process begins with a consultation and fabric selection-followed by 43 measurements and a fitting to ensure precision. Then clients can customize their look with a host of ESQ’s ready-to-wear ties, cuff links and shoes.
“Athletes wear their suits maybe six times a year,” says Wang. “We also want to lend our expertise to the everyday lawyer and banker who wears four or five different suits each week. That’s our target audience.”
Bespoke shirts from $400 and suits from $2,000.
Why 150 NFL Players All Flock to This Young Founder--to Get Dressed Up
Ge Wang graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 2012 and spent a few months practicing as an attorney before deciding to call it quits and focus on his passion -- creating bespoke suits and shoes for affluent individuals. But Wang didn't completely separate from his legal background. He incorporated a common abbreviation "esq," short for "esquire," into the name of his company, ESQ Clothing.
Less than 4 years later, Wang is outfitting roughly 150 NFL players and almost a dozen players in the NBA. Some of his more prominent clients include running back Matt Forte, wide receiver Antonio Brown, quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Miami Heat's Josh Richardson. Wang also has a heavy focus on outfitting those surrounding Notre Dame athletics, including head football coach Brian Kelly.
How did Wang build his business among high profile athletes?
Wang had no real experience in the custom suit and shoe business before leaving behind his law degree to measure athletes and cater to their apparel desires. He says he benefited from friends of friends, word of mouth and a lot of social media.
The now 30-year-old Wang had a major opportunity. This occurred in the infancy of his business when he was introduced to the aforementioned Forte through a friend of a friend who is a retired Chicago Bears fullback.
Forte told Wang that he had one shot. If Wang screwed up then the relationship would end as quickly as it began.
Fortunately for Wang, Forte is still a client today. He is also responsible for referring many other clients, including running back Jamal Charles. Charles saw Forte wearing an ESQ Clothing blue velvet tuxedo at an NFL Honors event and sent Forte a message on Instagram asking where the outfit came from. The rest is history and now Charles is an ESQ Clothing client as well.
Wang works on lower margins, but keeps the costs low.
"We are able to survive at our margins while others are ripping people off," said Wang. "I'm not taking 21-year-old girls to take measurements. I take the measurements myself. No gimmicks."
Wang is basically a one-man operation. He has one person running his shop in Chicago, Illinois while he is on the road (which is all the time). In the last 4 weeks, Wang has traveled to 11 U.S. cities, Italy and China. It is a busy time, because NFL players are in Training Camp and want their attire before the season starts.
Wang has also hired one public relations assistant. That's it. However, Wang does plan to hire additional help in the social media realm.
In fact, Wang was operating out of his condominium until he took control of the retail shop only 1 year ago. His costs are low, as is his pricing compared to the competition in his space.
"People always think we're crazy priced," said Wang. "A lot of people will charge exorbitant amounts for inferior product. We start at $2,000. A lot of athletes pay others $20,000 for 4 suits. Rookies know no better."
Competition drives Wang's business.
Wang's mother is an entrepreneur and his father is a lawyer. He took a lot of heat from his parents when he decided to leave law for the apparel industry, although his entrepreneur mother was a bit more supportive than his father. She taught him that if he was going to follow his passion, he needed a plan.
Wang was an observer of the Allen Iverson rule -- the NBA's implementation of a dress code. Iverson is still upset that he wasn't able to wear whatever he wanted to off the basketball court.
It caused NBA players to start competing with each other off the court in a game based on style. This has spread to NFL circles as well.
Today, Wang is not only fancying up the players, but working with them on endorsement deals. One such opportunity presented itself when Skittles approached ESQ Clothing to outfit Brown in a Skittles jacket.
Long, Miller bring the funny for charity
Bears players break out the tuxes for the annual Bears Care Gala at Soldier Field. The Gala supports breast and ovarian cancer research and treatment programs.
Meet the Chicago tailor who designed suits for 2016 NBA draft's top picks
On Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, 60 fortunate players walked across the stage, shook commissioner Adam Silver or deputy commissioner Mark Tatum’s hand and put on a hat bearing an NBA team’s logo.
For many, the hat is the only part of their NBA draft night ensemble that isn’t planned out and expertly crafted by a team of tailors and stylists.
For Utah center Jakob Poeltl—a 7-footer from Vienna, Austria taken No. 9 by the Toronto Raptors—Thursday night was the first time he wore a suit that was custom tailored to fit his 37-inch waist and 51-inch outseam.
“Jakob’s pants go above my chest, like a dress,” says Ge Wang, owner of ESQ Clothing, a Chicago-based men’s custom clothing company that outfitted six players in the 2016 NBA draft, including Poeltl.
A former real estate lawyer, Wang became frustrated with purchasing ill-fitting suits and in 2012, decided to start his own business in Chicago. He started with little knowledge of tailoring, 50–60 different fabrics and a client base of mostly lawyer and bankers. Wang, who holds a J.D. from DePaul University and B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, traveled to Italy, China and other countries to learn the tricks of the sartorial trade. Today, ESQ Clothing offers 35,000 choices of fabrics and various suit styles, and works with 150 athletes across several sports.
Last year, Wang dressed 19th overall pick and former Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant. His navy blue suit and skinny tie with a gray pocket square landed him on many best dressed lists. But the suits for this year’s roster of players—including first-rounders Poeltl, Kris Dunn, and Damian Jones—had a little more pop than a simple pocket square.
“We often times have to talk these guys down a bit because they come in with crazy ideas,” says Wang. “We figure out how to tone it down a little, while still standing out and not ending up on the worst dressed lists.”
ESQ Clothing’s signature is quickly becoming custom-made linings. Wang recently hired a graphic designer to create the images that appear on the inside of the suit jackets.
“At first it was just something unique but now it’s something we’re known for,” says Wang of the jacket interiors. “A lot of people have done it for the draft but they would print it on polyester or they would try to sew something in. We screen print on silk. It’s a very tedious process.”
ESQ Clothing created two suits each for Dunn, Demetrius Jackson, Poeltl and Jones—one for draft night and one for Friday’s press conferences. Wang says another big part of this year’s draft outfits were the players’ shoes.
“We can make custom shoes so we can go crazy with that as well, as opposed to just the suit,” says Wang. Jones, the Vanderbilt 7-footer and the Golden State Warriors first-round selection, needed a size 17 custom shoe. “Everything is handmade and we color it on our own. It’s very clean and very sleek looking.”
Wang says his company’s custom suiting stands out because of expert sizing (many athletes have size 50 jackets and 32-inch waists) and small details, such as handmade buttonholes.
“We don’t want you to look back in 10 years and say, ‘What was I wearing?’ especially on the biggest night of your life,” Wang says. “But we’re still only at the tip of the iceberg of how cool and how crazy we can get with these linings.”