By the time Stephen Seo became an advertising executive in New York City, he had gotten used to the stares he often received during business meetings.
??Sometimes people wouldn??t even pay attention to my presentations. They were always looking at my suits,?? says Seo, who moved to the United States from South Korea seventeen years ago. ??They always wanted to know where I got my clothes.??
Compliments from clients and co-workers, who fawned over the suits he had personally designed and sewn, boosted Seo??s confidence and pointed him toward a new career in fashion.
After tailoring clothing for a small clientele, Seo opened an upscale boutique in Princeton??s Palmer Square in fall 2007. In October, he launched a women??s line with cocktail dresses and trench coats to complement the custom-made men??s suits, hand-cut silk ties, and pocket squares that add up to his signature style.
??These are one-of-a-kind looks,?? says Seo, who learned how to sew as a boy after watching in awe as a tailor altered his mother??s clothes. The lessons have served him well. ??I??m making clothes from scratch, so the end result is the clothes fit like a glove.??
Seo uses only the finest fabrics, including wool-cashmere blends and 100-percent Italian silk, for his bespoke designs. Bespoke is a British term for tailored clothing made exactly to a customer??s specifications, without the use of a pre-existing pattern. To that end, Seo creates clothing on the client??s body, not a dress form, and then cuts and stitches the garment by hand.
??The classic era is making a comeback,?? he says. ??I think the consumer is getting smarter because it??s wasting money to pay for clothing and then it doesn??t fit. I??m basically taking a great concept, the bespoke look, and updating it.??
Next on his to-do list? Designing glamorous red-carpet looks. His dream clients include celebrities Jeremy Piven and Nicole Kidman. ??Everyone deserves the right fit, the right look, the right design,?? he says. ??Whether you??re a celebrity or not, it??s all about having a good spotlight wherever you go. That??s what fashion is all about.??