When it comes to luxury shopping, there’s what you see on the runways and in the stores. Then there’s what you don’t see—the ultra-premium, no-limits bespoke programs designed to satisfy the insatiable. From custom couture suits and embroidered denim jackets to bridle leather interiors for exotic cars and yachts, Gucci, Hermès, and Dolce & Gabbana are taking exclusive, one-of-one shopping to decadent new heights.
DIY usually means off-the-clock dads building backyard decks and grandmas decoupaging picture frames. At Gucci, it means a shearling-lined embroidered stonewashed denim jacket handmade for you. The white-hot Italian brand calls its expansive offering of customizable goods—from tiger jacquard silk bomber jackets to hibiscus red crocodile double monkstraps—Do It Yourself, and it’s the kind of subversive twist on luxury we’ve come to expect from Alessandro Michele, the mastermind behind Gucci.
“This collection is dedicated to those women and men who are in love with their wardrobes and who like to wear unique things,” Michele says of the DIY buffet of tailoring, knitwear, shirting, outerwear, and shoe choices. “I tried to give them something slightly different, to allow them to have some little acts of freedom while wearing Gucci.” That freedom empowers you to decide just how full-tilt you want your Gucci to go. You can be as subtle as getting a bee embroidered near the hem of a merino wool sweater or go the impossible-to-miss route with a baby blue satin bomber that has two psychedelic birds perched across the back. If you’re a boardroom dweller in the market for the ultimate power suit, Gucci’s tailors are ready to make it—to measure, no less—once you settle on a fit (from six silhouettes), lining (there are 72 for “day suits” alone), fabric (over 350 choices, from all-season wool-mohair mixes to mustard velvets, retro cashmere checks, and everything in between), and buttons. You can get a king snake embroidered on your shirt collar or cuffs, order a silk camp shirt in one of the house’s archival prints, or have your initials added to a pair of the brand’s popular tennis sneakers. And if you’re the Jared Leto type (or actually Jared Leto) looking for a leather biker jacket with pyramid studs, a giant bee appliqué, and a leopard-print calf hair collar, Michele & Co. will make those one-of-one dreams a reality, too, in 2 to 12 weeks, depending on the piece.
Although the program offers a plethora of categories—and combinations of colors, cuts, and add-ons in each—and puts you in control of your sartorial destiny (only you know if a tuxedo jacket with a three-headed sea monster on the back and lined in a throwback foulard is your vibe), DIY is not Michele ceding his creative reins. Hardly. Every item up for customization, every fabric to choose from, and even the placement of every insect and animal in the menagerie of available patches has been signed off on by the man who made all of it cool in the first place. If there’s anything better than a one-off Gucci piece no one else has, it’s a one-off you can tell people you made with Alessandro Michele.—Matt Sebra
A man walks into an Hermès store. Let’s say it’s in Monte Carlo, but he could be anywhere in the world. He looks around but can’t find exactly what he needs: a bag to hold his daily apple. So he sits down with one of the store’s sales staff and drafts up a proposal. That proposal is sent along to the Hermès Sur-Mesure team, and so begins one of the most innovative and sophisticated made-to-order processes in the world. The proposal will be reviewed by a design team, sketches drawn up, prototypes developed, and finally, with the client’s approval, in the careful hands of Hermès’s highly skilled craftsmen, the apple bag will become a reality.
“I like to give an artistic and sometimes twisted answer to an object’s functionality,” says Axel de Beaufort, the design and engineering director of special projects for Hermès Sur-Mesure. “We are not just a manufacturer; we are a house of ideas. And we like to surpass people and give some funny answers. We have a very open-minded way to approach each project, by being innovative and working with new materials. We want to give fantasy.”
That fantasy extends beyond the realm of bags and leather goods. Way back in 1837, Hermès was making bespoke harnesses for discerning equestrians. So naturally, today the house’s commitment to making people’s wildest, most luxurious dreams come true includes all kinds of personal transportation and recreation. Within Sur-Mesure there is a Mobility program, which does things like bridle leather interiors for yachts, private jets, and exotic cars (like the 1935 Avions Voisin C28 Aerosport seen here). De Beaufort and his team have developed a full carbon-fiber bicycle and a skateboard printed with one of Hermès’s iconic scarf designs. That’s in addition to the limitless possibilities available to add value to the rest of your life, from custom cases for anything from your saxophone to your watch collection to one-of-a-kind objects like boxing gloves and a Foosball table.
“Anything is possible” is a very real and true mantra at Hermès Sur-Mesure, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a little help from the imagination and expertise of the artisans who make it happen. “The craftsman is not just here to take a sketch and execute,” says de Beaufort. “The craftsman really takes part in the process. When you see a finished product, you feel the creative side and the craftsmanship. At the end of the day, if you’ve managed to realize an object that creates an emotional impact, that’s a success.” —Noah Johnson
When most guys need to visit their tailor, they hop in the car or on the subway. But every July a couple of hundred savvy dressers in need of new threads instead hop on their jets and yachts to visit the men who make their clothes. Because their tailors are Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, and they are Alta Sartoria clients.
Alta Sartoria is Dolce & Gabbana’s hyper-exclusive, über-opulent line. Since 2015, the designers have invited their most committed clients to an exotic Italian location for a weekend of shows and parties—palazzi in Portofino, Naples, and Palermo have played host—and to an annual January show in Milan. Suiting is the highlight of the collection, but for Alta Sartoria the duo tailor an entire maximalist fantasyland.
“Alta Sartoria is a dream, an experience, an idea of beauty, that we try to translate into fabrics and prints, with bizarre and extravagant accessories, that tell a story,” says Gabbana. “We hope to tell a story with our work, not only to sell a piece of clothing.” The most recent Alta Sartoria show was held at Cattedrale di Monreale, near Palermo. The Norman cathedral is open to the public, but there is only one place to go for a tuxedo jacket made of woven crocodile skin and painted with a mosaic copied straight from the cathedral’s lintel or for a silk bomber printed with its pointed arches. Alta Sartoria is luxury mainlined—fully immersive sensory overload for the select few.
Dolce & Gabbana knows how to appeal to the new, fearless generation of couture clients. Once a piece is ordered right off the runway, it can be customized to make the one-of-a-kind garment totally personal. “Clients come up to us and tell us they want something that no one else in the world has. We try to make their most hidden desires come true,” says Gabbana. “Alta Sartoria is the balance between extreme attention to details, finishing touches, proportions, decorations, embroideries, and the creation of items our clients desire and want to wear today,” adds Dolce. “If a client wishes for a house pajama with his name embroidered on it, maybe in a hidden place that no one can see, or with cherished details, we will do it!” Clients can also get bespoke tailoring made by Alta Sartoria artisans at the men’s atelier in Milan. “We’ve even made diver and pilot suits, not only coats and caftans,” says Gabbana.
The preparation and execution required to create a presentation fit for some of the wealthiest and most discerning men in the world is exhaustive. But the effort to tease out their hidden desires trickles down to the Dolce & Gabbana prêt-à-porter line. According to Dolce, “It allows us to experiment, to do research, and to further push our creative expression to the maximum.”—Samuel Hine