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The HLK Custom Experience

“Whatever it is, the way you tell your story through fashion can make all the difference.” ~ HLK Custom

So, who is HLK Custom exactly? HLK Custom is a direct to client business that focuses on helping build up gentleman’s closet with custom suits as well as high quality clothing and accessories.

They are also our newest customer. And they get our Thumbs Up 247 seal of approval.

From a personal perspective, I met HLK Custom owner Tim Knight, through social circles in which we both travel. Tim always struck me as a happy fellow, one who wore a smile as often as he wore clothes that suggested a level of style and sophistication that drew you in. Tim’s presentation of himself made you want to know more about him. And when I learned that Tim was a custom clothier, everything made sense.

Tim has been a custom clothier for a long time. His clients respect him immensely as evidenced by the testimonials listed on HLK’s website. His business piqued my curiosity and ignited my own sense of style, and so I wanted to learn more. For your benefit and mine, I sat down with him to learn more about HLK Custom.

Tony Lombardi (“TL”): Tim, when you hear the term custom clothing, one almost immediately thinks, “expensive”. Talk about why that may be a bit overstated and if you could, please elaborate on the value of custom clothing.

Tim Knight (“TK”): I think when people hear that term they immediately think of days past when having something custom made was typically done in a shop by one person spending hours upon hours sewing it by hand and having 4 or 5 fittings, which was a huge expense. But as with everything, the process has evolved. It has become more efficient.

Laser cutting of cloth using CAD programs allows for virtually no waste of cloth and saves huge amounts of time and money. Today, most American tailor shops we use have specialist tailors who only work one or two areas of the suit. This new approach has massively increased efficiency without sacrificing old school details.

When you purchase a custom made garment you are getting a product that is precisely constructed using the best cloth. Consequently, your clothing fits you perfectly while extending the life of the garment. Unlike stores, we at HLK Custom don’t want you to come back because the garment has worn out. We want you back because your clothing is wearing so well you want more.

TL: Those are certainly compelling reasons to consider HLK Custom. Tim, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about a custom clothier?

TK: Some carry the misconception that we are just there to load you up on clothes. And while that may be true of some custom clothiers, that’s not how we operate at HLK Custom. That said, this misconception is the biggest single obstacle we have to overcome when working with a new client who has had that exact experience with a previous tailor. We are here to serve your needs. Not ours!

HLK Custom

TL: I’ve often said to those who may be reluctant to reach out to a custom clothier that if you are used to shopping at an upscale department store, why not take the next step and get EXACTLY what you want for a marginal financial difference. Your thoughts?

TK: Tony, before answering your question, I would like it to be known that we are working on building a beautiful ladies line as we speak. Stay with me, this will come together. Yet I still have to go to stores for my wife from time to time to get her presents. I actually try to use the same lady every time I shop. And what never fails to baffle me is whilst the lady can remember my name, they don’t keep accurate records of everything I have purchased. As a result, she can’t give recommendations on what to add to complement existing outfits for my wife. Instead they may push items that they have in stock even if I feel it’s not the proper complement. I also hate shopping in crowds, fighting for parking and not always getting the same person to work with.

Now having said that, I take a small issue with the marginally expensive part. The upscale department stores do have huge storefronts, wonderful displays, beautiful carpeting and massive advertising. It’s impressive yet I have to wonder how much of that grand atmosphere and those marketing expenses, am I paying for when I choose a pair of shoes for Danielle [Knight].

At HLK Custom, we don’t carry those overheads and so the money our clients spend lies in the quality of the product they get. Plus, if anything needs adjusting after the first fitting, we alter for free. I honestly believe that you can get a custom product, right now, for the same price as a similar, quality readymade product from department stores. At the end of the day, the customization and fits are free. And that’s part of our advantage.

TL: Tim at this point I’m starting to feel a bit foolish even considering department stores. How long have you been in the business?

TK: I started learning the skills of tailoring and custom clothing in London across the road from Saville Road in 2002. And since I feel Like a sprightly 21-year-old, I must have launched my career at the tender age of 3.

TL: Impressive Tim. Nothing like having a dream that starts at the age of 3 and it becomes today’s reality. Speaking of which, what are some of today’s most popular items? What is trending these days?

TK: We are seeing a movement away from suits with some of our clients, but it certainly hasn’t completely flipped to business casual. And then there are those who are looking to make a statement during evenings out with friends, or dinner with wives and family. Custom made sport coats, casual jeans, fun colored cotton pants with dress shirts or complementing cashmere sweaters – these are some of the things that are gaining interest.

HLK Custom

TL: What separates HLK Custom from your competitors?

TK: We are a custom and casual clothing company, not a sales company. When I started in the business, I was told you had to do your job to keep your job. At the time I believed this to mean, turn up on time, follow instructions etc., etc. But in reality, what my mentor was actually referring too was keeping my job with my clients – earning their confidence and trust. We believe at HLK, if we offer a great product at an affordable price with great service and put our clients’ needs first, not our own, we will always keep our employment with our clients for the duration of their careers.

TL: Tim, that’s such a great perspective and I’m sure that is a huge contributor to the level of repeat business you have. So, let me ask, besides made to order products, what other products and/or services does HLK Custom provide?

TK: During the down time in 2020, we invested our time seeking out brand leaders in casual attire, accessories and complementary items that our clients may want and need. We can make sure you are perfectly attired for the office, a dinner out, the golf course, driving range, shooting range, relaxing at home or even bed time.

TL: This certainly sheds new light, a new perspective on custom clothing and the fact that you can remove the hassles and frustrations of department store shopping is a really big benefit. Tim, last request…if you wouldn’t mind, please share a story involving one of your customers that paints a true picture of the value in working with HLK Custom.

TK: Growing up across the pond, I was taught not to toot my own horn – if that translates. Our marketing department recently reached out to ten of our clients who have used HLK for 2 years or more, to share their thoughts about the service we provide. We made a commitment to post exactly what they said without edits, without filters. I really don’t think I can single out one instance or story, but what they all have in common is that we visit them. They no longer need to deal with the stores. We save them time and money, and we strive to make everything convenient.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the HLK Custom story.

If you would like to set up a meeting with Tim – a free fashion consultation, feel free to reach out to him by email at Tim@hlkcustom.com, visit their website at HLKCustom.com or give him a call at (410) 593-7787.

Tony Lombardi
Besides his work here at Thumbs Up 247, Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Recap. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. Drop him a note at TL@ThumbsUp247.com.

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