With so many one-of-a-kind boutiques and vintage shops on 9th street, it’s somewhat surprising there isn’t already a high-end tailor on the block to cater to all those strangely proportioned 1960s dresses and awkwardly fitting fashion pieces. This week, Nigel Ramsey entered the scene with Tailor’s Atelier, hoping to complement the strip’s identity as a one-stop destination for discerning shoppers.
Snipping and sewing has been Ramsey’s lifelong metier. When he was 17, his father sat him down and laid out his options: He was either going to find a job, go to school, or get out. Ramsey thought he might like welding, but on his first day of class he burned himself so badly, he still has a scar.
“I went to the Dean crying and he said, ‘You know what, you need a soft man job. How about tailoring?'” That “soft man job” turned out to entail crisp lines and a rigorous sense or proportion — the Trinidad and Tobago native took his advice and never looked back. He went on to work in pattern-making and samples for Donna Karan and other designers in the 1970s and later managed tailor shops for Men’s Warehouse and Bloomingdales before striking out on his own.
Ramsey said his early experience churning out patterns made him a pro at understanding the internal logic of clothing. “When people want to get something altered, they want it to look exactly the way it was before — if you are going to spend $800 for an Alexander McQueen skirt, you want it done right,” Ramsey said. (Maybe McQueen is reaching a little high for this blog, but who hasn’t given into FOMO and bought that “awesome” “one-of-a-kind” piece that’s just a tad bit too big or too small?)
“When I do alterations, I do them from a pattern-making perspective,” he said. “So I understand how the garment is shaped – what it originally is.” In other words, he’s not going to give you one of those dry cleaner standard once-overs and call it a day. Ninth street breathes a sigh of relief.
Tailor’s Atelier, 331 East 9th Street, bet. First and Second Aves., East Village.