Nelson Dumancela, a 32-year old Master Tailor, comes from the southern city of Azogues in Ecuador, a place where young men learn their trade under a mentor. They learn to sew perfect buttonholes by hand, choose proper fabrics for every season, and construct a suit from scratch to flatter any customer.
When he started his apprenticeship in a tailor's shop at age 12, he could barely lift the heavy iron. But by 15, he was making pants and shirts. By 17, he could make fitted suits. His diploma took him to the United States, where he worked at the Gold Thimble of Rumson, and Garmany in Red Bank making businessmen and women shine in wool suits, silk blouses and cashmere coats.
"I started dreaming when I was 15, picturing my own place," said Dumancela, standing in the little shop he opened on Main Street in Holmdel, the former address for an Allstate Insurance broker, and now outfitted in the spare style of a gentleman's store with fabric swatch books, a wooden chair and a fitting mirror. "I think its fortunate for me. I think there is a time for everything," he said.
He calls the store "Couture Clothiers of Pleasant Valley."
Despite the casual style that's taken hold of America, Dumancela is confident that the classic style will retake its importance. "Tailored clothing is for everybody who wants to look good," he said. "People think custom-made is too expensive. In Ecuador, everyone has custom-made garments," he said.
Dumancela is trained to learn how a customer moves. He may adjust a shirt's armholes so the back is not strained when a man folds his arms. The inside pockets are constructed to lie flat under the lightest materials. The buttons sit in the center of their buttonholes, where they belong.
He cares about big customers who can't find proper-fitting clothes. "The perfect-sized customer can shop at retail stores," he said. "But people who are big, they are the ones that need custom fitting. And my goal is to make a person look good," he said.
Although prices vary for his work depending on style and cloth, handmade men's Oxford shirts cost $125 and suits start at $900. Tailoring of cuffs are $25 and hemming, about $18. Also, for a limited time Dumancela is offering a special: Buy three custom-made shirts and the fourth will be free.
Alterations and other tailoring needs are always available. Got a loose button? Button reinforcement is free for a limited time, as a grand opening gift to customers.