On the cusp of 10 years in the business, you would think that Christopher Schafer—master suit maker, recovering musician, and all-around family guy—would be able to slow down and just survey his Baltimore empire. But Schafer is always thinking about the next steps, including expanding his second location in Los Angeles (headed up by his son, Seth) and bringing his nonprofit, Sharp Dressed Man, which has suited more than 10,000 men re-entering the workforce, to more cities. In 2007, Schafer moved to London with his wife for her job. While there, he realized it was the perfect time to change his enthusiasm for men’s fashion—specifically suits—into a job, one where he was the boss. His background was “rock ‘n’ roll, punk rock, skateboarding, and stuff like that,” says Schafer. Not necessarily what you would expect from someone on Savile Row, a London area known for its array of swanky bespoke tailor shops. But he was a good student, and his mentors took a genuine interest in him. “I realized I was finding my calling,” says Schafer. He returned home and started Christopher Schafer Clothier in 2010 at Hour Haus, a cornerstone of Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District. His studio was part band rehearsal space and part fitting room, but mostly he would travel to clients’ homes and offices to do custom fittings.
In 2011, he moved to a building on Aliceanna Street nestled between Fells Point and Harbor East. As bigger spaces have become available within the building, he has upgraded and knocked down walls and painted. Schafer’s clothier now takes up almost half of the second floor of the historic structure, where he meets with clients, many businessmen, but grooms, too. The space is fantastic with its beams, original hardwood floors, natural light, and high ceilings. “People ask me all the time if I live in here,” laughs Schafer. He doesn’t. “But I want it to feel like home.” It might be the guitars and motorcycle, pinball machines, drum set, and leather couches mixed in with all the elegant fabrics that confuse people. But the idea is to make the entire experience of buying a custom suit remarkable. (For those wondering, $3,000 is the “sweet spot” to buy a custom suit.) For grooms, Schafer’s goal is to create a suit or tuxedo that can be worn again and again. “I want the clothes to do something for you beyond the wedding. There’s value in that,” says Schafer. And custom suits aren’t just about picking blue versus gray. There’s the lining, buttons, stitching, peak lapel or notch lapel, and flat-fronted pants versus pleats. But it’s each specific ingredient that makes the dish so successful. He sees that triumph time and time again when a groom-to-be walks out of the dressing room at the final fitting and admires his own reflection. Says Schafer, “The process is about enjoying the ride.”