One-of-One Tailoring feat. Michael Nguyen

May 21st, 2014

Today’s profile highlights my co-host for our Gentlemen’s Evening in Toronto coming up on May 27th.

Michael Nguyen has been working in menswear since he was a young kid. He was in the game before all of these blogs and tumblrs, and long before Lebron James was wearing Givenchy. In fact, he’s the third generation in his family to work in the tailoring and garment manufacturing trade. “Tailoring is in my blood. I grew up in the business”.

Today he is Toronto’s premiere custom clothier and his shop Garrison Bespoke has clients that range from fortune 500 CEOs to Toronto based celebs like my man Drizzy Drake (who recently lined a new Garrison suit with his favorite team’s jersey).

What I love most about Mike’s style and vision for his business is that he he’s always looking to push the envelope and create something new – which is not necessarily a quality you often find in old-world bespoke suit makers. For example, a few months ago he made a fully bulletproof suit for a client in the secret service. He once said to me; “I’ve been delivering luxury suits and making clients happy and confident for years…but the suit itself has hardly changed in the past century…. When I die, I want to be remembered as someone who innovated the suit, who modernized it for a new generation of men”.

Once he said that, I knew I wanted to do business with this fellow Canadian, so we started to develop what we’re calling the “One of One Project”; custom jackets created using exclusive deadstock vintage fabrics and designed specifically to represent the lifestyle of the client… More on that later.

Speaking of Drake, Michael also has a great “Started from the Bottom” story:

I grew up in a small farming town of 500 people where my family was one of the only visible minorities. The town sponsored my family to Canada. Anywhere we went in public, all eyes were on us. Therefore, from a young age my mother stressed the importance of looking sharply put together and representing the family with pride.  All my clothes back then were donated or from the Salvation Army, but I always had it all coordinated. I remember picking out my clothing to go to school as young as 4 years old; if I didn’t have the right shoes, or I had worn my favorite sweater too many consecutive days, I would pretend I was catching a cold and ask to stay home!

We later moved to Toronto and for the first time I was one of many kids in my neighborhood and school. I was a shorter kid and I found it was hard to get noticed by my classmates, teachers, girls, and even by my siblings at home because we had such a big family. One defining moment I remember was a white tuxedo that I got from the salvation army and had it tailored down to fit me nice and slim – I loved it and felt like a king. I remember putting it on for the heck of it during a family gathering at my house one afternoon – I couldn’t believe the way it made me feel, and the positive attention I got from everyone around me.

From that point on I was totally hooked. Since then I’ve spent my time and money on clothing and making sure that I always have that feeling day in and out. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t spend thinking about style and how it relates to my day and my life, and of course, the lives of my clients and my colleagues at Garrison.”

Here Michael gives us a taste of his personal style, and the one-of-a-kind bespoke jackets that he’s developed to tell a little bit of his journey and story. If nothing else, he knows he’ll be the only guy wearing them.

1. Poolside Tailoring


You think I have bespoke suits for every occasion? This guy has tailored pieces specifically for poolside! Here he’s wearing a one-of-one jacket over a terry cloth (think “towel material”) shawl cardigan.

“When I found this deadstock vintage fabric, I had to grab it. It reminded me of Beetlejuice, but with a vintage nautical feel. I found only two yards of it in a tiny little fabric shop – so I assume this is the only tailored jacket in the world made from this cloth.

I wear a suit & tie everyday at Garrison. When i’m relaxing by the pool on vacation I still like to be tailored (to represent my brand and for the convenience/familiarity of the pockets) but I love experimenting with different base layers under the jacket. This can include anything from technical shirts and knits, to this ultra comfortable (and pool-friendly) terry cloth sweater.

The silk/linen trousers have a little stretch in them and are super lightweight… They’re actually made from a womenswear fabric that is only 4.5 oz. These are the lightest and most comfortable pants I’ve over owned…and I’ve made quite a few pairs of trousers over the years.”


Did you notice the hotel wash cloth pocket square?! Very clever…and functional.




2. Rep Your City


“One of the things I really like about what I do is I work with a lot of athletes; we make suits for players on all four major sports teams in Toronto: The Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, and FC.

My favorite team since I was a young kid was the Toronto Maple Leafs. My first choice in career paths, if it were not bespoke tailoring (or my size), would be to play professional hockey for the Leafs. I attend a lot of games and this one-of-one jacket is my personal way of supporting my team without drowning in a big oversized hockey jersey. This way I can stay sharply tailored and represent my brand while showing my clients a good time.

The raw denim shirt just keeps getting better with age as you wear it and wash it. I have several of them from different mills that we carry at Garrison, but this one is my favorite. It’s the equivalent of a menswear hamburger and fries – its comfort food in sartorial clothing terms… It’s just as good with a suit as it is with a pair of shorts while working on your car on a Sunday.”





3. A Formal Statement


“Remember that white tux I had as a kid? This is my modern day version of that garment. I wear it with slim black Barathea Tux Pants to formal events, but also wear it on an everyday basis with a crisp white shirt or black silk t-shirt when i want to be chic but still casual at the same time.

This is my current holy grail of white shirting fabric. I own multiples of it. Its a Giza 87 Poplin from Albini which gets softer and softer the more it gets washed.  If you wear it out to party for a long night out, the next day you can throw it on poolside with a pair of swim trunks and it feels even better than the previous day!  It collects character. When i’m going into a big first meeting or doing public speaking (when I’m admittedly nervous) this is the shirt that I am wearing.

The pistachio pants are inexpensive from Uniqlo. I love the washed shade of these pants, as they are colorful but not in-your-face obnoxious. I think they coordinate well with the jacket given that it’s already creating quite a statement.”


Any advice for our readers who are looking to upgrade their style?

“Immerse yourself in the popular culture you best identify with; whether it’s current or an era past – or even a hybrid of them. There will be people whose style you’ll identify with, learn from them.  Menswear has stayed very much the same in cuts, fabrics, and silhouettes in the last 100 years – its all about what you best identify with. Pick a few people whether they be style icons of various periods and take ideas from the way they dress and the pieces they wore.  When you experiment long enough, it will eventually your own.

As with anything in life practice makes perfect.  Be a student of style.”



Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Michael for participating!

Yours in style,

Articles of Style


Photography by Alex Crawford  

  • Nicholas Cassadine

    I think Mike suffers from a syndrome called, “I have money but no style or taste”. I constantly bump into these guys in the Middle East, Europe, and Miami stepping out of their gaudy yellow sports car . These guys have the means to purchase high end labels and pile them on thinking that expensive items means they are well dressed.

    Mike has the clothes, that goes without question. However, when I look at these pics, I think he’s trying too hard and/or just doesn’t know better. I have some over the top jackets and shoes but I understand the key to wearing it without looking like a clown is not wearing it all together. I think a general rule of thumb, as it pertains to more dressy/formal/dandy wear would be to wear ONE special item and ground it with plainer clothes. Don’t wear a loud jacket, louder shoes and technicolor sunglasses. You want that special item to be special! RESTRAINT

    Another point that is equally important, is knowing when an item would be cool to wear in theory but not so much in the real world. Every time I see those old movies where men wear cloaks, I love the idea of capes but realize I would look pretty ridiculous if I wore one. That Toronto Maple Leaf jacket looks great in theory but looks like something the local crazy TV sportscaster would wear before the big game.

    And for some of you that may think I don’t like flashy or more vibrant clothes, you are wrong. I have my share of colorful items but I wear them with a careful eye. And I think Psy is a guy that wears over the top outfits and pulls it off brilliantly.

  • Gazman

    Dressing up should be fun and Mr Nguyen embodies that idea. Enjoyed this feature a lot. Ta.

  • John B

    The real reason Dan approved this post: the first look. A cardigan under a jacket without a shirt.
    Kidding aside, I really enjoyed the article! The fabrics caught my eye first, but the cut of the Leaf jacket and the shawl collar on the tux are too good to be missed!

    • Dan Trepanier

      Haha. You must be a dedicated reader! Love it.

  • TO

    Haha definitely not. There are articles out there detailing his tailors over the years, they are in Toronto. He goes to Fabricland I think it is and brings fabrics to his local tailor and usually it takes several times he normal amount of fabric to get the patterns to match up correct for Mr. Cherri’s suits.

    • TO


  • Miguel

    A very interesting feature, love the man’s vision on having his name on the suit history.

    Excellent outfits, wish you continue success.

  • cam

    Hey Dan, I meant to ask if Mr. Nguyen happens to make jackets for Don Cherry?

  • Brady

    That Maple Leafs jacket is incredible! Now if only I could find 2 yards of vintage Blackhawks fabric…

    • Dan Trepanier

      That would be Fly! Especially in black. Love the blackhawks logo…all “controversy” aside…

  • kid_icarus

    All three looks are astounding! I especially love #1. That towel as a pocket square, with the terry cardigan? Bullseye!
    But I imagine after being all layered up like that, I’d have to take a dip in said pool before long.

    Also, my mind was kinda blown by the bulletproof suit you linked to. That is next level.

  • Shawn

    Such an interesting feature and story. Mr. Nguyen seems (from your editorial) to be a pretty down to earth type of person even though he gravitates in the higher circles of society judging by his client base!

    I consider myself a pretty CBD-type guy who enjoy the austerity and subtleness of a basic suit and tie attire and/or classic menswear, but this feature got me hooked! Maybe it’s the fact that being Canadian, I’m feeling drawn into it, but I am feeling Mr. Nguyen’s style! All of the pieces look very well made/tailored. I especially appreciate the handsewn (milanese) buttonière and the shirred shoulers (spalla camicia); small details that tells a lot about the quality of a garment and craftsmanship of an artisan!

    Although I’m not in the market for a bespoke suit anytime soon (no need and no funds), I wonder if Mr. Nguyen would be king enough to tell us what the pricing of a basic bespoke construction (I know sky’s the limit, but an average suit, not comissionned by an NBA allstar or rap king).

    Last but not least, MTL Canadiens > TOR Maple Leafs (just kidding)!

    Good to see some devout tailors in Canada, as all the tailors making the buzz these days are based in NYC, LA, Boston, some of the bigger south-east Asian cities and such!

    • Dan Trepanier

      Great eye for detail Shawn!! Thank you for sharing.

  • TO

    Really enjoyed this article ! Such creativity went into this- this is some if the finest inspiration that has been on this site.

    I have so much respect for Mr. Nguyen and his immersion as he says as a “student of style”.

    An answer for that pesky question of what to wear to support your team but to not look sloppy – genius !

    Loved the super comfortable and unique aspects of the first outfit as well and what caught me about the third outfit is the lapel hole on the shawl collar. Details…
    Awesome stuff !!

  • cam

    I love a good statement jacket and someone who isn’t afraid to have some fun with their clothing. For me, it’s much easier to get away with the idea using tailored pieces versus street wear or high end fashiony crap you see flooding the NBA etc. I’m very much interested in Mr. Nguyen’s thoughts on being remembered for modernizing the suit. Seems to me the suit hasn’t changed much because it doesn’t need to. Sure you can change silhouettes, vents, lapels etc but the basics for a suit are there and established. In less of course he is referring to the bullet proofing…which was a cool video at that. Take care guys!

    • cam

      *unless, of course

  • Herbert Morrison

    Ditto on that white poplin from Albini–I can guess it’s not cheap. I can’t think of a better shirting fabric for summer, long or short sleeve. Again, high/low: it’s crisp with a jacket or all by itself with shorts or chinos.

    • Paul Kim

      How can I get my hands on that denim shirt in the second look! It looks great!