In the past 10 years New York has become home to a new generation of tailors. Of all of them, Against Nature may be the most Manhattan in attitude, and certainly the most downtown. “Our customers are guys who work in finance, but they are also musicians, restaurateurs and artists,” says tailor and founder Jake Mueser (first picture, far right), who runs the Lower East Side store alongside manager Pablo Conejero López (first picture, near right).
The Against Nature aesthetic combines the spirit of legendary punk-rock venue CBGB with the demeanour of Wall Street, a dash of gothic Victoriana with a little of Mick Jagger’s swagger. “The slim-fitting suit was not nearly as prevalent when we opened in 2009,” explains Mueser. “Our philosophy has been to take the things we like from both Savile Row and Neapolitan tailoring and bring them together – the soft shoulder from Naples, and the tapered body, high waist and slim trousers of London.” The suits – off the peg (from $1,200), made to measure (from $1,950) and bespoke (from $3,450) – all feature the distinctive Against Nature turned-back and curved “swordsman’s cuff”.
“We like to give things a twist,” says Mueser. “Our printed shirts look great with a classic navy suit. We are currently using Liberty patterns, but also denim and chambray [from $175], all done in a very tailored way.” And regardless of fabric, the shirts encompass a larger-than‑normal spread of collars, to accommodate a Windsor knot. It’s a dandy flourish in keeping with the store’s fin de siècle ambience; Against Nature takes its name from the 19th-century Joris-Karl Huysmans story of extraordinary decadence, subsequently referenced as the “poisonous French novel” that leads to the downfall of the protagonist in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Hence the velvet curtains and white taxidermy peacocks dotted around – and the ultra-broad lapels on this season’s sports coats (example in second picture, $1,250).
The seasonal collection – lightweight mohair suits (from $1,750) in deep, saturated turquoise and blue are standouts for spring – offers more mix-and-match opportunities. “We are trying to build a personal collection for customers, so we can say, ‘Remember those trousers you bought last year? Well this new sports coat is going to work well with them.’”
Completing the look are pieces by other designers, nearly all – with the exception of Jeffery-West loafers and brogues from England – made in the United States. The store takes orders for denim maestro Simon Jacobs’ bespoke jeans (from $450) and sells work by gothic jeweller Ryan Matthew (one of the store’s co-founders). “Ryan’s work [from $175] is Navajo-inspired, with bird, lion and bear motifs on the lapel pins,” Mueser explains. Indeed, customers often consult Matthew on unique designs, as they do with Mueser on bespoke suits. “We aren’t expecting people to come in and just get the house cut,” says Mueser. “We want to create something that’s your look, coupled with our aesthetic.”