During a recent trip to Berlin, I visited bespoke tailor Alexander Amann in his tailor shop to have a pair of bespoke trousers made.
Since obtaining a true bespoke garment is an involved and complicated process, I will document my experience in a series of five articles, starting today with I. Alexander Amann – Berlin’s Youngest Bespoke Tailor. In the near future, four more articles will follow: II. Style and Details of Alexander Amann Suits, III. The Bespoke Process, IV. My Bespoke Trousers and V. An Interview with Alexander Amann.
Berlin – A Bespoke City?
Usually, when it comes to bespoke tailoring, thoughts turn to Italy, especially Naples and Milan, in addition to Savile Row or even Paris – but one city is hardly ever mentioned: Berlin.
Historically, Berlin has been a fashion center in continental Europe in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Starting in 1933, Jewish fashion house owners and manufacturers were systematically eradicated by the Nazi regime and after the war, the industry did not recover. With regard to men’s bespoke tailors, there were still quite a few left, both in the eastern and western part of the city. However, today few remain, and the most famous one – Volkmar Arnulf- is well into his seventies and his bespoke suits start at €3500 ($4500).
Alexander Amann – Passionate Bespoke Tailor in 6th Generation
Now, for young people this is a big problem, since it will be impossible to stay with an old tailor forever. Hence, I was really happy when I was contacted by Alexander Amann last year after he had read about the Gentleman’s Gazette in the Financial Times Germany. Alexander is a sixth-generation bespoke tailor at just 33 years old. He has been working for more than 10 years, but most importantly, he is extremely passionate about his craft.
Born in New York City to German parents, he returned to Germany and graduated from Gymnasium (High School). He promptly began an apprenticeship at Heinz-Josef Radermacher in Düsseldorf, who employs a team of 25 tailors and cutters, making him one of the larger bespoke suit establishments in Europe. In 2004, Amann finished his apprenticeship and continued to work as a tailor for Radermacher for 6 months before he relocating to Berlin. In the German capital, he worked at Volkmar Arnulf, one of the cleanest tailors ever, for 2 years before he transferred to the Gewandhaus Berlin. In 2008, Bühnen der Stadt Köln – The Stages of the City of Cologne asked him to work with them. Eventually, on April Fool’s Day 2009, Alexander Amann opened his own tailor shop in the Reichenberger Str. 117 , in the heart of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. Ever since, he has developed a respectable clientele and with so much work at his hands, he is looking for an apprentice himself.
Initially, I met Mr. Amann at his atelier. He decided to settle here because the rents were affordable and he likes the low key atmosphere relative to the luxury boulevards nearby.
Herrenscheider Amann – Men’s Tailor Amann
When I entered the room, I was immediately pleased by the ambiance of the dramatic 25 foot ceilings, white walls, unfinished bespoke garments and cloth. Altogether, his shop is very minimalistic and uncluttered. You will find a chair, a coffee table, a few hooks, shelves, cloth and quite a few jackets, overcoats and suits waiting for the next fitting.
In the back, which is separated by a curtain that also serves as the changing room, you will find Amann’s long tailor table, a few irons, a single thread rollpadding machine by Strobel (which creates a perfectly sewn canvas as good as by hand), buttons, yarns, and of course a phone and a laptop so he can always stay in touch with his clients.
Overall, it is a simplistic yet comfortable environment that invites and encourages conversation about bespoke suit making.
The Person Alexander Amann
Mr. Amann – or just Alexander as he is called by his clients – is a slim, tall person with long hair, glasses and a deep passion for bespoke tailoring. When I met him for the very first time, he struck me immediately as a likeable character that enjoys conversation but most of all working as a tailor.
When we talked, he told me about Berlin and that you can find many creative people in the city. “You know”, he said, “if someone tells me he is a photographer or designer, he is just like a 1000 other people in this city, but if you are an accountant or a craftsman, you really stand out!”. In the following he emphasized that he considers himself to be a hard working tailor who designs and sews together fine men’s clothes by hand, but he is fundamentally a craftsman.
As such, he also understands that his clients’ satisfaction is of the greatest importance. Although his opening hours are from 11am -7pm, Monday through Friday, he is more than willing to meet with a client on Sunday night at 10 pm if necessary. When I visited him, he had enough orders for the next six months and so he spends a lot of time at his atelier doing what he loves.
One thing I really liked about Alexander is the fact that he is very approachable. Even bespoke newbies who do not know what bespoke really means should have no problem with Amann’s down-to-earth mentality and willingness to explain everything.
Moreover, his prices are very reasonable compared to other bespoke tailors, even though he uses only the best Scabal and Holland & Sherry worsteds and woolens available. When I was there, he was working on a suit made of Salvador Dali fabric from Scabal that looked very unique, yet sophisticated. Since Amann does not markup his cloth at all, he is more than happy to work with cloth supplied by the customer.
It was clear that Amann has a passion for tailoring, but he was also proud of being a tailor and for him that all garments are cut and sewn in-house from start to finish. Sometimes, if he is really busy a freelance worker may come to the tailor shop in order to sew the buttonholes or finish other little details. Generally, Amann makes a suit from start to finish in about 60 to 70 hours, depending on the style.
Despite his labor-intense philosophy, Mr. Amann’s prices for hand-tailored bespoke garments are very reasonable.
- Bespoke suits start at 1900 €, 6-8 weeks (3 fittings)
- Topcoat starts at 1500 €, 6-8 weeks (3 fittings)
- Trousers start at 450 €, 3-4 weeks (2 fittings)
- Waistcoats start at 350 €, 3-4 weeks (2 fittings)
- Coats start at 1500 €, 4-6 weeks (3 fittings)
Reichenberger Strasse 117
10999 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 30 / 22 41 45 87
Hours: Mon – Fri 11am – 7pm and by appointment
Mr. Amann speaks English fluently.