Name: Max Schmidt
Vocation: Entrepreneur, Tailor
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI
Detroit. The word alone can conjure up so many different feelings. To us we have always associated it with “grit,” rooted in a deep history that generates both loyalty and pride from its residents (and its neighbors). It is a pride that is unmatched. It’s a city that has been built on the shoulders of blue collar work ethic, expression and… style.
The Motor City has always had its own style, from Carhartt jackets to Cartier glasses there are certain fashion trademarks that are quintessential Detroit. It was almost certain that during this period of “revitalization,” a new style would make its way to the heart of the city. That new player in the game comes in the form of 1701 Bespoke, a custom suit shop in the heart of Detroit’s Midtown and they are here to tailor you up.
Behind this new style is a man who took a “roll up your sleeves and get it done attitude” and in the truest definition of an entrepreneur turned a need, into a business. That man is Max Schmidt, Co-Founder of 1701 Bespoke. Ask him what he does and you won’t get much talk, just action. Max says when asked, “I usually just say I’m in the clothing business and open up my jacket to show the 1701 label.” Confidence with foundation, Max and his business partner Tom Daguanno have brought quality and comfort into a Detroit state of mind, something built right into their name.
“1701 is the year Detroit was founded, so being in Detroit, we wanted to pay tribute. And the word “bespoke” is a method of creation that is completely unique. Our suits use completely original patterns for each one of our clients, hence bespoke” Max notes on the name.
In Detroit, things aren’t handed to you and when there was a need, Max met it head on. “It all started with my business partner, Tom. He was getting married and asked me to be his best man. We were looking around for custom suits in the area and couldn’t find anything that was in our particular style; a closer cut, soft shoulders with Italian details.” During that time, they began to develop a relationship with a tailor in the neighboring town of Birmingham and that relationship blossomed into a mentorship and eventually a tailoring firm.
In true Midwestern fashion, Max understands the importance of a hard day’s work and although owning such a business has its perks, he stays focused on the day to day operations. “Every day is different but I’m usually always talking to our clothiers, going over our client appointments, what we can expect for the day, as well as reviewing the previous day’s appointments.” And although it all starts on the shop floor, the success of 1701 has shifted his sights to growing the company, through team management and creating better processes.
Growing up in the area, the Midwest has played a role in Max’s life, where he feels the combination of “modesty” as well as “being utilitarian” are key components in his view on the area and in his products. To him it is what separates his shop from its coastal counterparts, Max says, “style-wise, what separates 1701 with other shops is our attention to detail, modesty and utilitarian aspects of our design.” When expressing his view on what it means to be a “Midwestern Gentleman,” Max may have uncovered some details into the success of his business, built on client relationships.
“A Midwestern Gentleman is someone who looks you in the eye, has a firm handshake, means what they say, puts the needs of others first, is tough but generous, is honest and polite and cares about their name and reputation.” – Max Schmidt
Being in the market for a new suit is often triggered early in an MWGs life, formal events, job interviews or entering the world of adulthood. While many can pass these tests with a hand me down or off the rack suit, until you know what to look for, you may never truly know what a suit can do for a man. When you enter the market for a new formal wear, we felt we’d pass along some free advice from the man himself. Max says his best advice “is to make sure the shoulders and the chest fit in a jacket you’re considering getting. Sleeves, for the most part, can be altered, and I know a lot of guys look at sleeve length as the primary way to judge whether a jacket fits. That’s actually the last thing you should look at.”
Once you understand the measurements and the comfort of a properly fitting suit coat, it is then you can begin to make it unique. “After that, the best advice is to acquire the basics that let you build a fantastic wardrobe: navy, charcoal, gray, and brown. Once you have those basics, you’re ready for great sport coats, as well as pinstripes, windowpanes and subtle patterned suits.”
For Max and Tom, it is only the beginning in just 4 years they have gone from a pop-up shop to become a key factor in the growth of Detroit. With shops in Detroit and Birmingham we had to know what was next for 1701. “We’re always on the move! We should be hiring another 1 or 2 clothiers by the end of the year and we’re expanding into different pieces, like scarves and gloves.” At the rate these two are going, before long the entire Midwest will be tailored up… Detroit style.
Thank you to Max for taking the time to talk with MWG. If you want to learn more about 1701 Bespoke, visit them at www.1701bespoke.com and follow them on Instagram @1701Bespoke. Ready to upgrade your wardrobe? Stop in to the shop 3 floors up @ 4160 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI.