Change Agent

How Spier & Mackay is bringing Indian tailoring to Canada’s closets

The made-to-measure suit company brings Jermyn Street style to Canada, by way of South Asia

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Spier & McKay founder Rikky Khanna

Spier & Mackay founder Rikky Khanna. (Portrait by Erik Putz)

Rikky Khanna launched Spier & Mackay, in 2009 as a custom shirtmaker. Today, the online retailer offers full suits and plans to open a store in downtown Toronto. He explains how the concept came about:

“There’s a lot of custom tailoring still going on in India—the average person still goes and gets shirts and suits made. You can go to a fabric market and pick up your own cloth, take it to a tailor and get it stitched—and they do it incredibly quickly, accurately and cheaply. I said to myself, why doesn’t this exist in Toronto? At that time a lot of my friends were going to Maxwell’s. It was the big thing—they would come into Toronto twice a year, and people would be lining up the door. I’m thinking, why is there nobody local doing this if the opportunity is there?

“When I went to India, we set up a joint venture with the factory. We’re really, really closely tied. I’m not exactly sure how Indochino is doing their production, but with Spier & Mackay shirts there’s only Spier & Mackay production going on in that factory. There’s no other export production going on—we’re the only customer there, pretty much, so the quality control is really tight.

“For our suits, we’re looking at that sub-$500 price point. That’s where we really wanted to be. And because we have the expertise and the sourcing to get it done, we’ve been able to deliver a very high quality product. If you took our product and you had to go through a wholesale channel and then through a retailer, they’d be selling for about the $1,200 level.

“We really took our time with the shirts and got that to the point where we feel it’s as good as we can get it, working within the parameters that we need to be working within. Now it’s the same with the suiting. We’re very comfortable with the growth as a small company. I don’t need to go downtown, but I know that it would help the company. But I’m in no rush to do it.

“A lot of people keep calling us the Canadian version of Suitsupply with the way we keep growing. So, who knows where this could go. Potentially, with the feedback we’re getting right now, it could get very, very big – and very, very quickly.

“You see a lot of other companies that are out there right now, it’s all about fast growth, about dumping money in and just trying to push the company forward. We’re not like that. We’re completely self-financed, we’re completely debt-free at this point, and we’re very, very patient. All of our inventory is completely paid up, and we don’t owe a penny to anybody. So we don’t have to prove ourselves to anybody. I don’t have shareholders breathing down my neck or anything like that, so I can basically take my time, make sure with every product that we release that we’re making it as good as it can possibly be.”