Bee staff

Ryan Hammonds had to expand his one-man operation to a full-time store with two employees.

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Sacramento's R. Douglas Custom Clothier looks stylish in brick-and-mortar

Published: Tuesday, May. 28, 2013 - 5:42 pm | Page 1D

Success seems to – ahem – suit him.

With his business growing steadily, Ryan Hammonds, owner of R. Douglas Custom Clothier, has opened a store downtown, transitioning from a one-man operation that made house calls to a full-service business with two full-time employees.

A week ago, Hammonds opened the store on a bustling stretch of 12th Street downtown, next door to Ella Dining Room & Bar.

Before that, Hammonds, 32, worked mostly alone, visiting clients at their homes or offices to take measurements, discuss fabric options and a host of other details for custom suits, then personally deliver the finished products.

Eventually, success got in the way. After he was featured in a story in The Bee last December, the meticulously organized Hammonds struggled to keep up with demand.

"I was finding that my service was declining because I couldn't return people's phone calls quickly enough," said Hammonds, dressed in a gray shadow plaid suit with walnut-brown wingtip shoes and multicolored striped socks.

With the new store, featuring two "Blue Man" style mannequins in the front window, Hammonds was able to hire two full-time employees, Luke Hamel and Natasha Hanson. Hamel shadowed Hammonds for three months before the store opened, and Hanson worked as an intern before landing the full-time position.

"(The store) has allowed me to better cater to the needs of my clients," Hammonds added. "I didn't want their first experience with R. Douglas to be a negative one. My thinking was I needed a showroom to facilitate the exponential growth I was experiencing. My thought was go big or go home."

The stylishly appointed store, with a mix of wood, concrete and steel, is not simply for aesthetics.

"One of the biggest problems I've had meeting clients at their homes or offices is lighting," he said. "The style bar at the store has two different lighting sources. I can flip a switch and see the incandescent light or I can see the daylight based on an LED bulb we put in."

As detailed in The Bee's story, Hammonds has taken a high-tech, international approach to custom suitmaking. With his clients, he takes scores of measurements in person, files them in his computer and sends the information to a modern clothing factory in China, where teams of skilled workers make the custom patterns using computer aided design software and attend to the suit from start to finish.

Outsourcing this way is a common practice in custom suitmaking. This approach, Hammonds explained, is necessary to keep the price down. His suits start at $699, whereas many custom suits cost well over $1,000.

Hammonds also stresses to his clients the modern cut and fit of his suits, which have a noticeably narrower profile, shorter jackets, higher armholes and a trimmer overall look.

R. DOUGLAS CUSTOM CLOTHIER

What: R. Douglas Custom Clothier specializes in custom suits, shirts and shoes for men. Consultations are arranged by appointment.

Where: New store at 1020 12th St., Suite 112, Sacramento

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday

Information: (916) 438-9455 and rdouglas.net

Call The Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @blarob.

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