Amber Doyle, the beautiful, petite, and red-headed tailor of elegant menswear, we consider to be the leader of the bespoke New York pack. Dressed in her own custom-made Doyle+Mueser suits or the chicest designer vintage, she and partner Jake Mueser have two amazing shops to boast of and all at such a young age! Ponyboy has long been a fan of their shops, Against Nature and Doyle+Mueser. And in our eyes, they create the best downtown custom-made suits for men.
PONYBOY: Amber, please tell us your background.
AMBER DOYLE: I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in a small town called Lake Zurich. In terms of my heritage, I have Polish roots from my mother and my father is Irish/Native American. Growing up my mother was an artist/graphic designer and my father was an airplane mechanic/pilot. These days my mom dances tango–so fabulous! I credit my mother a lot for my character and personality. I am definitely my mother’s daughter. She raised me to be adventurous, creative and ambitious.
I moved to New York at 19 years old and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. Although I studied womanswear at college, my personal interest and natural creative inclination was always towards men’s clothing, ranging from tuxedos and tailcoats to motorcycle jackets. Even when putting together my own ensembles on a day to day basis, my inspiration tends to be drawn from male icons like David Bowie or James Dean.
PONYBOY: How did you get into designing clothing?
AMBER DOYLE: My mother taught me how to sew when I was very young, just like her mother taught her. Although none of my family members sewed on a professional level, it was a skill that many of them possessed and which was carried down to me. I took the hobby to another level as a child and really taught myself how to design and construct a piece of clothing. I found such joy in my creations that I would constantly make pieces for myself, my mother and my friends. I was very particular about the shapes I wanted to achieve and how I thought things should fit, but I was doing this to my own beat and rules. It probably wasn’t until I was given a few vintage military pieces and a black tailcoat that I really understood what “tailored” garments were. These were so elegantly cut and crafted, it lead to my obsession with suits.
Designing has always been my outlet, from sewing garments to working on a bead loom or oil painting. Throughout my childhood I was always creating something. I mostly like designing clothing because it was more than something to just observe and appreciate from a distance. A garment I design is a creative expression and artistic spirit that you can actually inhabit and take with you as you go about your day. It is the art you live your life in.
PONYBOY: When did you first meet your design/business partner Jake Mueser?
AMBER DOYLE: I met my business partner and close friend Jake Mueser right before I graduated from F.I.T. We were both in the rock-n-roll scene that was happening downtown. We shared the same ambition and enthusiasm for suits, and the same passion for music and style.
Jake and I began working together soon after we struck up a friendship. Initially, we mostly were just making suits and accessories for ourselves and friends. We also had a small jewelry line that helped fund our main interest which was suiting. Our business started to grow so we formed our company Doyle+Mueser Ltd. a year later in 2008.
PONYBOY: Your first atelier Against Nature on the Lower East Side of Manhattan opened to rave reviews. Tell us a bit about that experience.
AMBER DOYLE: Jake and I had been working designing the clothing and accessories, and things were really picking up. We began working with jewelry designer Ryan Matthew Cohn, and opened a Pop Up store in the East Village. We were the front room for the speakeasy style bar the Elsa Room. This was in January of 2009. We had that space there for a few months. The Pop Up Shop got us excited about our opening our own retail space.
The three of us then teamed up with denim maker Simon Jacobs. From there we started building out the space on 159 Chrystie Street. We all shared the same passion for beautiful hand-made goods, but we all brought something different to the table. I remember we opened the doors at 159 Chrystie street in 2009, just days after my 23rd birthday. None of us really knew what to expect. We were just excited to get our work out there.
Right after we opened we started getting a lot of press attention. We were even featured on the front page of the style section in the New York Times on Thanksgiving–not bad for just opening a few months before.
PONYBOY: Shortly after, you opened your other shop, Doyle+Mueser?
AMBER DOYLE: Yes, about a year later. Against Nature had been going very well and getting a lot of attention. Jake and I decided to open up a separate store with a focus only on suiting. It might have been a bit impulsive for us to open a second store after only having Against Nature for a year, but the opportunity was there, so we just went with it.
PONYBOY: Tell us who the typical Doyle+Mueser client is.
AMBER DOYLE: That’s sort of a tricky question to answer because our focus is custom suiting, so in a sense, our goal is to honor the personal style and vision of each individual customer while upholding our own sense of craftmanship. There is really such a wide range of people who make up our clientele. I think the common thread would have to be that our clients tend to have a greater appreciation for detail, a strong sense of personal style, and a passion for clothing with a quality that is impossible to find in mass produced designs.
PONYBOY: What is the average price of a bespoke suit?
AMBER DOYLE: Our bespoke suits are hand-made in New York City in our studio in the West Village. The bespoke starts at $3,250 and can range depending on the fabric and style. Over the years we’ve done countless suits, sport coats, overcoats and tuxedos. We’ve done a few equestrian jackets, a shooting vest and a good number of women’s suiting, as well. We also just completed tailcoats for the Met Ball this year. They were gorgeously handsome.
PONYBOY: Where do you personally get your inspiration from?
AMBER DOYLE: I pull a lot of inspiration from different time periods and different music scenes. Probably the biggest influence to me in terms of decades are the mid-50’s to the mid-70’s, which I would consider the heyday of rock-n-roll style. The teddy boys, the mods, glam rock, disco and punk all influenced menswear in that period; and people were doing entirely new things with suits. Mods brought back a really sharp and clean look, and my favorite fabric, a wool/mohair blend, was the most popular suiting fabric for a while. Two of my personal tailoring heroes, Edward Sexton and Tommy Nutter, were making suits for people like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie that looked wild, with wide lapels, flare bottom trousers, rich colors and patterns–everything I love! I also have love and respect for Victorian Style and Art Nouveau, especially decor. I pull a lot of inspiration from film, as well, such as The Warriors, The Wizard of Oz, and Lawrence of Arabia.
PONYBOY: A few seasons back you showed during fashion week with Tara Subkoff from Imitation of Christ fame. Was that a successful endeavor for Doyle+Mueser?
AMBER DOYLE: It was a wonderful experience to work with Tara and to show at New York Fashion Week. Jake and I have never done anything before on such a grand scale.
What was different and exciting about this collection was that we did women’s suiting for the collection, as opposed to men’s. We brought these beautiful, classically tailored pieces to the runway which were perfectly juxtaposed with the delicately feminine silk looks designed by Tara. As well as being thrilled by the collaboration artistically, Tara was so much fun to work with. She has such a great vision and really knows how to create this feeling of another world through her runway shows. What I love about what she does with her shows and presentations is that they feel more akin to performance art, which I find to be really transportive.
PONYBOY: Do you have any plans of expanding into womenswear? We love the suits you design for yourself.
AMBER DOYLE: Of, course! It’s something I always think about and will do one day. We currently offer bespoke womenswear in both of our stores.