LOCAL Houston | The City Guide October 2016 - Page 52

SUIT UP WITH BALANI CUSTOM CLOTHIERS By Carla Valencia de Martinéz | Photography by Cody Bess Balani Custom Clothiers is nestled in a quiet strip center almost across the street from Tiny Boxwoods off West Alabama. Although the Houston outpost has been open just over a year, Balani has been handcrafting custom suits in the Chicago area for more than 20 years. In the two decades that Balani was growing, current president CHRISTIAN BOEHM was preparing for his leadership role. Always in the clothing industry, Boehm started out in Cleveland, Ohio, and shares, “I was at one company for 20 years and started as a salesperson (like everywhere else) and wore all the hats. I learned the trade and people management and worked my way up.” As I interview Boehm, he travels around his showroom with such familiarity, moving from fabric swatches to finished pieces. Sharing the details of a few finished suits, like the embroidered words “filet mignon” on the inside collar of one of BENJAMIN BERG’S suits. (Berg is the owner of B&B Butchers & Restaurant, and a regular client.) I ask Boehm about repeat customers, to which he replies, “90% of our clients are repeat business. They enjoy the honest advice they get from the stylist; and we make it really seamless and simple by keeping everything on file, so a client could literally be in Florida and say ‘I need a suit.’ As a client, we are familiar with what he has, and what price range he’s comfortable with. It’s a convenient way for men to shop when we’ve built these longterm relationships.” 52 L O C A L | october 16 Naturally I wonder, how much does an average men’s suit cost? And many national magazines, including Men’s Health and GQ, will say a basic off-the-rack suit can cost more than $1,000. However, a custom handcrafted suit at Balani starts at about $899. “It takes us six weeks to design, detail and create the garments,” Boehm explains. Measurements and selections are taken in the West Alabama store but the suit is then made overseas. Loretta, his onsite tailor who has been with Balani for 25 years, takes care of in-house alterations. “Sometimes we are so good we don’t have to do any adjustments, but occasionally, when the clients come in for their first fittings, we might have to do some pinpoint alterations like alter the sleeves or something like that. Loretta can do all those touch-ups. She is way pickier than our clients.” I ask Boehm, “Do you have a local dream client that hasn’t yet walked in the door?” “Interestingly enough I do. I wouldn’t say a dream client in terms of who they are like a sports figure because we do a lot with those guys. More on the business side of things, I’d like to meet people within the community who are influencers; the guy that is on my target list is TILMAN FERTITTA. He’s at the top of my list and I’d really like to meet him.” No doubt he can make a Balani suit work. houston@balanicustom.com www.balanicustom.com/custom-suits-houston