Well-Suited: Mohan’s, of Midtown, Dresses Chelsea Resident for Success

Victor Mohan, son of founder Mike Mohan, guided Alexis Ottenwarde through fabric choices. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

BY SAM BLEIBERG | The weather is heating up, and the turn of the season marks the busiest time at Mohan’s — a family-operated bespoke tailor on E. 42nd St. between Madison and Park Aves.

Through the years, Mohan’s Custom Tailors has handcrafted suits for athletes, entertainers, dignitaries, and New York personalities. Their latest client is Alexis Ottenwarde, a young man born and raised in Chelsea and in need of a sharp look for his next step in life. Chelsea Now followed Alexis through the process of selecting fabric, getting fitted, and walking out with a custom suit — compliments of the Mohan’s team.

Mike Mohan founded the business in 1972, and spent his early days working out of a hotel room. He received his first celebrity client, New York basketball legend Patrick Ewing, through a stroke of extraordinarily good luck.

Mike’s son Victor described that pivotal event: “When I was born in the hospital, the nurse for my mother was friends with Patrick Ewing’s mother. Everyone knew the Knicks were going to pick him first in the NBA draft. His mother called my father and asked if he could make Patrick Ewing’s suit for the NBA draft.”

Mohan’s next worked with one of the NBA’s all-time style icons, all thanks to a playful rivalry. “Walt Frazier, in 1982, he says, ‘You’re advertising with Ewing, but I’m the champion. I’m the style guy,’ ” Victor recalled.

The tailor became Frazier’s suit supplier of choice, and Victor said his father and Frazier became inseparable. Following the publicity that came with dressing basketball legends, Mohan’s became a destination for athletes, earning a reputation for crafting suits for any body type. Other notable clients include Ricky Henderson, John Starks, Daryl Strawberry, Tommy Lasorda, and Bernard Hopkins, along with many more.

The founder credits Mohan’s ongoing success with quality, consistency, and freedom of choice. “We make sure that we also educate the client, let them know exactly what they’re getting, while having a lot of fun with our limitless custom options,” Mike said. “Finishing up with a beautiful custom-made masterpiece and a huge smile on the client’s face — I call this the ‘Mohan’s Experience!’ ”

Mohan’s signature raw fitting involves shipping a fitted jacket to the fabricators to mold the suit to the client’s body. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Alexis is now the latest athlete to receive the “Mohan’s Experience.” When the tailor reached out to Chelsea Now to offer their services to a deserving neighborhood resident, Chelsea Now reached out to the community — and Lisa Jasienowski, co-founder of the nonprofit group Infirnity, referred Alexis as a hardworking alumnus of their program, which combines mentorship, basketball coaching, and academic support.

“He has worked so hard to make his way to college,” Jasienowski said. “Receiving a suit as this is pretty amazing fuel to charge the independence and sense of self he is stepping into.”

Alexis graduated from Chelsea’s Bayard Rustin Educational Complex last year and is currently working a food service job while pursuing a college education where he can study acting and play on the school’s basketball team.

“Infirnity helped me push myself through high school,” Alexis said. “Just having somebody who’s there that supports you, motivates you, and tells you everything will be fine when you’re feeling sad — I appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”

Mohan’s has produced complimentary suits for deserving members of the community before, and invited Alexis along with Chelsea Now for the full custom suiting and shirting process.

Victor greeted Alexis in the tailor’s office and fitting room of Mohan’s, which is just across the street from Grand Central Terminal. Victor’s Superman cufflinks, rings, and business cards inform the customer that individual flair is welcome on the premises.

“I love the creativity, the styles, the trends, opening up my eyes to so many different possibilities,” Victor said. “There are so many shades of even white, different shades of blue. I love helping people change their image.”

Mohan’s prides itself on details, like real working buttons and suit jacket pockets. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Between a shirt and a suit, the customer chooses between dozens of details, from buttons to collars to cuffs. The suit starts with the fabric. Over the years Mohan’s has experimented with functional and decorative materials including crushed diamond, water repellent material, and warm weather fabric. Alexis decided on a classic navy wool with a two-button construction. He saved the flash for a shiny baby blue lining.

Mohan’s sets itself apart with a raw fitting, which involves sending the actual mold from the in-house tailor directly to the fabricators along with the client measurements. Alexis chose a contemporary, tapered fit. “This is the millennial style, but basically everyone is wearing this now,” Victor said. “I do have my older clientele that is sticking with the classic look.”

Alexis opted for a few personalized details, including monogrammed shirt cuffs (although without Victor’s preferred French cuffs). Victor noted that an important part of their philosophy is to make the client as comfortable as possible with the final result, including the price tag.

“We always keep it real with the client. We don’t upsell,” he said. “A lot of the time we’ll start by asking what their budget is and give them the most reasonable price possible.”

L to R: Victor Mohan, founder Mike Mohan, Alexis Ottenwarde, and master tailor Ken Wong display the finished product — a fully custom suit and shirt. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Alexis returned a few weeks after the fitting to receive the completed suit. The fit was perfect, earning Mohan’s another satisfied client.

When asked what has kept the business successful after all these years, Victor explained the business builds a strong connection with their customers.

“Our clients are very loyal. This little secret of Mohan’s has been passed on from generation to generation,” he said, adding he was looking forward to attending the upcoming wedding of a client. “The customer walks in and recognizes, ‘This is really a family business.’ ”

Mohan’s Custom Tailors is located at 60 E. 42nd St., #1432 (btw. Madison & Park Aves.). Custom suits generally start at $699, and custom shirts at $120. Mohan’s is currently running a “Millennial Special” — a custom suit and shirt for $595. For more information, visit mohancustomtailors.com, call 646-461-1951 or email [email protected] Social media: @MohansTailors (Twitter), facebook.com/MohansCustomTailorsNYC, and, @mohan_tailors (Instagram).

Alexis Ottenwarde leaves Mohan’s with his new suit — a perfect fit for his professional ambitions. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Mohan’s impressive list of celebrity clientele includes early supporters Patrick Ewing and Walt “Clyde” Frazier. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Clients building their own custom suits choose between dozens of options for cuffs, collars, and more. | Photo by Sam Bleiberg

One Response to Well-Suited: Mohan’s, of Midtown, Dresses Chelsea Resident for Success

  1. How much do.your suits cost

    Thsnk.you

    J

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