Ever met a 3-year-old who genuinely liked wearing a suit? Like, all the time?
Say hello to Evan Delaney. He was the toddler all dressed up and with places to go. Between his father playing violin and his mother dancing, both professionally, there were always concerts to attend. The Colorado Springs native grew up in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which also required donning his best. No surprise here: He was voted best-dressed in high school.
As Delaney grew up, he didn’t ditch suits. He learned to love them more and how to build them for others.
At 19, he started a custom suit business while juggling other jobs, like spraying perfume on store patrons. He also worked for Chanel and Calvin Klein.
“The beauty and the art of the craft, from beginning to end, got me into it,” Delaney says. “And that keeps me in it.”
Thirty years later, MLB and NFL stars and CEOs call Delaney for hand-designed outfits. He travels most weeks of the year to Los Angeles or New York and other big cities to meet with clients or hand-deliver suits.
That last bit is very important to Delaney, who is 48.
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“There’s a lot of people in our business who would let a UPS driver deliver your $3,000 suit,” Delaney said. “That’s not cool. Human contact is part of the experience.”
Otherwise, Delaney works out of his Colorado Springs home. He’s acquired a partner in recent years, his 25-year-old son, Christian.
Their suits are as fine as it gets — the Delaney men make sure of it. They come in sleek fabrics, bold plaids and creative linings, like patterns of vintage wine labels or the night sky. A father and son once ordered matching sport coats and the insides showed photos of the two golfing.
“Each garment embodies who you are; unique and distinguished. Truly, a work of art,” reads a description on Evan Delaney’s website. “Unlike department store styles, or self-proclaimed custom-made products, Evan’s clothing is handmade by artisans one garment at a time.”
The details that go into one of these? “Endless,” says Christian Delaney.
They take at least 30 measurements, taking into account a man’s posture, how he sits in a chair, how his arms move when he talks. The fit has to be perfect.
But anyone can do that.
“There are a million guys selling suits,” Evan Delaney said. “I liken what we do to a great chef. Ingredients are just ingredients before someone turns them into something great.”
To be great, Delaney goes beyond the clothes. He asks clients about their career goals and what kind of person they want to be.
“Being a gentleman has to do with the work they do before they put the suit on,” he said. “I always say, work on yourself first, be a good person. When you understand the importance of being a good man, that’s where we come in.”
Delaney describes his clientele as “influential men,” which includes a lot of professional athletes. Celebrities not so much.
“We avoid them,” Delaney said. “We’re not in the business of giving away our suits for free.”
There’s plenty of business without actors or musicians. Clients order sport coats to wear to work or on dates. They order suits and shoes for ESPN appearances or their wedding days.
“It’s anything where you’re going to be seen,” Delaney said. “If you’re going to be seen, you want to look really put together.”
For baseball players, for example, “We’ll go into their closets and line out a wardrobe for their entire season for them. We have a suit for each city. Is it a rivalry game? Is it a day game or night game? Are they doing press? We think about all of that.”
Delaney thinks about it all, because he knows the difference it can make.
“When you put on the right clothing, everything changes,” he said.
That doesn’t always mean suits.
“There’s a time and a place and the dinner table isn’t that,” Delaney said. “I’m all for a pair of blue jeans.”
While most of Delaney’s work is elsewhere, he can’t imagine ever moving away from Colorado Springs. Plus, he has four clients here.
“It’s not exactly a mecca of fashion,” he said.
But he feels home here. Just like when he’s in a suit.