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Custom clothier brings the wardrobe to the customer

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amy Baron Brourman makes house calls.

In fact, she will come to your office or any other place that's convenient, even Consol Energy Center.

Brourman is a professional clothier and fashion consultant for Astor & Black Custom Clothiers, which recently entered the Pittsburgh market.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Astor & Black is the fastest-growing clothier in the United States.

Brourman will help customers create a wardrobe -- from black-tie pieces to business attire to weekend wear -- in sync with his or her personality and style.

"It's about developing a trust between myself and my client," Brourman says. "They have to believe in what I am telling them, and then I have to have the quality product to back up that trust and belief. The best customer service in the world doesn't mean much if the clothes aren't made of the highest quality."

The process begins with a free consultation. Brourman takes measurements and shows portfolios of fabric for suits, trousers, dresses, shirts, blouses and other apparel. The customer chooses the materials. In a follow-up appointment, the rep will bring samples to try on. Then, the order is placed.

Suits take, on average, four to six weeks to make, while blouses and shirts are done in about three weeks. Everything is hand-sewn. Brourman often brings along a tailor.

Suit prices start at $499, trousers at $175, and shirts and blouses at $135.

Founded in 2005 by David Schottenstein, Astor & Black has dressed world-class athletes, celebrities, politicians and business professionals. Each suit is created to the specifications and personal taste of the client, Schottenstein says. Jackets have the client's name in them.

Hand-picked stitching, functioning buttonholes and Bemberg linings are standard on all garments.

Schottenstein started the company with the idea to create a door-to-door business that elevates the standard of dress for the modern man and woman with ease, thoughtfulness and proper fit.

"We're thrilled to have Pittsburgh as one of our key cities in the U.S.," Schottenstein says. "The Astor & Black Custom Clothier experience is a truly unique opportunity for men and women across the country to dress to their size and taste with accessibility, affordability and ease."

Recent additions include handmade leather belts, leather jackets, cashmere sweaters and scarves, bench-made shoes from Loake, and cufflinks from Babette Wasserman.

"It will work in Pittsburgh the same way it does in Milan, in London (and) in New York," Schottenstein says. "We want to give our clients everywhere quality clothing at a fair price."

Brourman keeps a record of her clients' sizes and what pieces they already own to help make sure future purchases complement their wardrobe. She might take up to 38 measurements during a consultation.

She often suggests something a little different to spice up an outfit, and gauges a client's feelings about trying something new. Her job is to take care of the little things, such as making one sleeve a little bigger so it slips over a large watch. Brourman will explain the best style or pant or jacket for a client based on body type.

"There are plenty of people in Pittsburgh who love style but might not have the time to go and look for a wardrobe," Brourman says. "That's where I come in, because I do a lot of the research for them ahead of time and I will work with their schedules."

Brourman recently measured the waist of National Football League Hall of Famer Lynn Swann in a luxury suite in the Consol Energy Center. The former Steelers wide receiver is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Power, of the Arena Football League, and made time for the consultation a few hours before a Power game.

Swann says you can tell the quality of a garment the minute you put it on.

"I try to work out and keep in shape so I am the same size," Swann says. "Because if I take care of my body, then a good-quality suit will last a long time, and I will be able to wear it forever. These suits are classic and you can tell they are well made just by how they feel."

With his busy schedule, Swann says he doesn't have a lot of time to shop.

"And I know a lot of professional athletes who have such grueling schedules that this would be great for them," Swann says. "On your off day, the last thing you want to do is go shopping for a suit."

Carrie Coghill, CEO and president of Coghill Investment Strategies, an investment management company, agrees with Swann.

"I am sold," says Coghill in her 19th-floor office in the Koppers Building, Downtown. "This is so nice. I am so busy, and when I do go out shopping, it is with friends or my daughter and not for business attire. I am not usually in business mode then. It also is hard to find really nice suits that fit you everywhere."

Being able to have some say in the creation of a garment allows you to infuse a part of your personality into it, says Coghill, as she tries on a jacket.

"I love the lining in this jacket," she says. "It's beautiful and you can tell the quality of this suit just by how it feels. And everyone knows when you look good, you feel good."

Coghill says she believes she is more productive at work when she is dressed professionally.

"I also am not that good at choosing outfits," Coghill says. "Amy is so good at putting it all together. We have so much on our plates. It takes us enough just to look good every day. And as I get older, things change with your body, and it's so nice to have something that fits perfectly."

Details: 412-401-5841, or .

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Custom clothier

Custom clothier

Astor & Black helps customers create a wardrobe in sync with his or her personality and style.




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