Reinventing a Classic: How Tech Is Modernizing This Suitmaking Business
Tom Daguanno never pictured himself as a custom clothier. His film background took him to movie sets, not tailors’ shops. He wrangled cameras, not tape measures. But when he couldn’t find suits he liked for his wedding three years ago, he and his best man Max Schmidt saw a hole in the Detroit’s menswear market. In 2012, they founded 1701 Bespoke, selling tailored suits, shirts and overcoats to young professionals.
A blue-collar town, Detroit’s not known for high-end fashion. But Daguanno is a third-generation Detroiter whose grandfather arrived from Sicily in search of opportunity. By founding 1701 Bespoke, Daguanno could give back to the city that gave him his roots.
He quickly learned that suitmaking was a trade rich in tradition, not technology. Paper forms were time consuming and chatting with overseas suppliers could get complicated and even confusing. “I want to work in my business, not on my business,” says Daguanno.
In a special initiative, Microsoft provided 1701 with devices and transferred the company to its tech platform. This technology is helping the clothier modernize suitmaking for the 21st century.
Learn how 1701 Bespoke is maximizing tech solutions.
Mobile measurements. Traditional suitmakers use a suite of tools called Perkins devices to track inclines and angles. But these tools can be clumsy to use and hard to find. Which is why when Daguanno needs to find a shoulder’s rise, he simply pulls out his Lumia smartphone and taps the Level app. This inclinometer tool, used mostly in home improvement, helps Daguanno take a customer’s measurements easily and accurately.
Cloud connections. Filing paperwork is a chore for any company, never mind one with two locations. To sidestep this, Daguanno enters customer orders in a special template he designed using a mobile-forms solution he accesses from a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet. The order, along with customer photos and special requests, is exported into a 12-page PDF and uploaded to OneDrive. The simple solution makes every job available to both locations in real time from any mobile device. “Moving away from paper has saved us countless man hours,” says Daguanno.
One platform, zero headaches. These days, when Daguanno needs to call a vendor, he can video chat through Skype for Business right from Outlook, showing vendors fabrics and samples in one window while reviewing essential notes in another. This all happens on a single mobile device -- keeping him connected to vendors around the world. “Nobody thinks of us as a technology company,” says Daguanno. “But there’s a tech infrastructure that allows us to do what we do.”