Christopher Schafer, Tom James Company
Christopher Schafer is a creative clothier and a passionate musician that was born and raised in Baltimore. He is a married father of two boys and drummer for the instrumental group To The Moon. He grew up in a family of five boys—with parents married now for almost 50 years. His career in fashion began in 2007 when Chris and his wife moved to London and was hired by the Tom James Company, the world's largest manufacturer and retailer of custom clothing. While in the UK, Christopher became a student of fashion in a city that is known for fine gentleman’s clothing. He has been back in home in Baltimore building his client base for a year and a half.
How did you get started with Tom James? I moved to London in the summer of 2007 and was recruited by the Tom James Clothing Company. I was always interested in fashion and the opportunity to learn the art of measuring and designing custom clothing presented itself. I had an amazing time in London and learned from some of the very best in the business.
Why should clients come to you for custom attire? People should have their custom clothing made by me because I will provide them with the best fitting and some of the most stylish garments they have ever owned. There is no better clothing than that which is made specifically for you and the service is unparalleled.
What clothing items (shirts, suits, tuxedos, etc) do you offer? I offer a wide range of clothing. For men it goes from casual clothing, shirts, trousers, suits, sport coats, to formal wear. On the women’s side I mostly offer business clothing such as suits, skirts, pants and shirts. I also carry Ferragamo, Cole Hahn, Allen Edmonds, and Johnston & Murphy for shoes, belts and accessories.
Do you offer any formal wear for men who have a special event (i.e. a wedding)? I offer men’s formal wear for just about any event. I can make a timeless tuxedo, tails or morning suits to some of the most fashion forward suits for special events. The sky is the limit.
Do many clients have you come to their home? Does Tom James have a location that clients can go to? I visit most of my clients at work or at home, whichever is most convenient for them. My office is located in Pikesville on Reisterstown Road, where I see clients by appointment only.
How many pieces do customers usually buy? Every transaction is different, and I love that. Typically though, my clients will work with me on purchasing outfits rather than individual pieces. It makes more sense to have garments that coordinate and go into rotation at the same time.
What’s the most a client has ever purchased or had you alter? My largest single transaction was to a client in London that purchased about $10,000 worth of clothing. I have many clients in Baltimore that purchase that each season though. My custom suits range from $499 to $13,000 so I have something for everyone.
What is the most satisfying part of your job? There are several satisfying parts of my job, such as when my clients first put on their new custom clothing for the first time. It is usually when I get the best compliments on my work without them even knowing that they said a thing. It’s great to know that the garments that I create will be worn to some of my client’s most important life events and their busy daily lives too. I also truly enjoy the fact that my clients become my friends over time.
Do you wear custom clothes? Most of my wardrobe is clothing that I have designed. When I wear garments made by someone else, it just doesn’t feel right to me. Unless it is jeans and a t-shirt, which is just for relaxing. I am also the walking billboard for my designs, so it makes no sense to wear anything else.
Have you done any wardrobes for couples? I have made clothing for couples and that is pretty interesting. It is the wife’s opportunity to dress her man the way she thinks that he looks his best. Usually the man doesn’t have much say in his choice of clothing or hers. I have also made suits for weddings which is really fun because it is such a big day and I enjoy being a part of the excitement.
What advice would you give someone who is looking for a tailored suit? The best advice that I would give someone who is looking for a tailored suit is to buy the best suit that you can afford. Consider this as an investment in yourself because this is the clothing that your future boss or future spouse may see you in for the first time. —Nikki Reese, intern