Amber Doyle is one half of the designing duo behind bespoke suit line, Doyle Mueser. After bonding with Jake Mueser over a common interest in tailored menswear at FIT, the two began tailoring suits for their friends, with a style that combined modern fashion with a respect for traditional tailoring. By 2006, the pair’s private client list had outgrown the modest operation in Mueser’s loft, and in 2009 the designers joined forces with jeweler Ryan Matthew and bespoke denim tailor Simon Jacobs to open Against Nature on the Lower East Side, home to the Doyle Mueser workshop and studio. In 2010, Doyle Mueser Bespoke opened on Christopher Street, with a focus on fully bespoke suits, shirts, and accessories.
How would you compare the traffic on the Lower East Side with Greenwich Village?
Against Nature is more of a destination shop. Unlike the West Side shop, it isn’t on a small, two-sided, high foot-traffic commercial street with a lot of other shops. So we get more walk-ins on the West Side and more appointments in the East.
What inspired you to open a space on Christopher Street?
We wanted to broaden our client base and we noticed that quite a few of our clients were already from that neighborhood. Jake and I also wanted to open our own shop to really focus on suiting.
Where is the division of labor between the two of you?
It’s pretty even, although I tend to spend more time at Against Nature and he tends to spend more time at Doyle Mueser. We collaborate on all our collections.
What do you enjoy most about being a woman in a man’s world?
I think that the idea that bespoke tailoring is exclusively a man’s world is old-fashioned, and that while it might be predominantly male, there’s no reason it has to be. There’s plenty of place and work for talented women in this business.
Are most of your customers surprised to find you come out with your measuring tape?
Not really. My work speaks for itself.
How many orders for suits do you receive a month?
We’re always pretty busy, although the number of orders fluctuates depending on the month and what projects we’re working on.
Are you often surprised by the clientele that can spend $3000 + on a custom suit? Are they usually adding shirts and accessories to the package?
I’m not surprised. Our suits are of the highest quality and they’re made to last. A beautiful bespoke suit is a good investment for people who care about having the best and having it for a long time. And clients often do add shirts and accessories.
What was the biggest challenge when getting your business of the ground several years ago?
Publicity was difficult, but the biggest challenge was probably the fact that we didn’t have any sort of reputation. When you’re starting out, people have to really trust that you know what you’re doing, and it takes work to convince them that you’re good.
How did you finance your first store?
We didn’t have investors — it was our own money and some practical help from great friends who know how to build things.
What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs entering the retail environment today?
Make it happen! Too many people have grand ideas that they never act on. At some point you have to take a risk and just go for it.