MEN'S BOOK Chicago
By Joel Reese
Ge Wang didn’t start his professional life in the clothing business—but now he has a bustling business and a star-studded client list, including the Bears’ Matt Forte, who let us sit in on a fitting.
Before he was a trendsetting fashion maven jetting around the country to outfit world-class athletes, Ge Wang had a slightly less stylish gig.
He worked as a real estate lawyer.
“I was practicing law, but I was always wondering: Why can’t I find a suit that fits me?” Wang says. “I had some custom suits made, and then I thought: Maybe I can do a better job.”
So the Notre Dame and DePaul graduate began making suits for himself; then he crafted some for friends. He developed enough confidence in his abilities to begin ESQ Clothing, and in August, he opened a highend boutique in the West Loop to sell both his custom-made bespoke garments and sharp ready-to-wear looks.
The low-key shop is a classic study in quiet masculinity—the rooms are filled with dozens of elegant suits, shoes and cuff links (trimmed with Swarovski crystals, of course). Th e decor is dark wood; several bottles of high-end scotch sit on the main counter; and the TV is tuned to—of course—ESPN. Th ere’s even a Chicago Bears helmet signed by star running back Matt Forte.
Which brings us to one of Wang’s best customers. Forte discovered Wang’s work a few years ago and now owns over 100 ESQ items, including suits, ties, cuff links and pairs of shoes.
“These custom suits fit me differently than any other custom suit I’ve ever had,” Forte says before a recent fitting. “They just fit perfectly. The feeling is casual, but they have a unique look. They’re top of the line.”
Forte says teammates asked him about his stylish threads, and now several Bears wear Wang’s outfits, including Kyle Long and Martellus Bennett. (Indeed, Wang provides suits for players on 25 NFL teams.)
Forte says his teammates haven’t quite reached his level of sartorial splendor: The running back insists Wang’s suits clearly make him the best-dressed player on the team. “It’s not even a question,” he says with a smile. “He won’t make them the same suits he makes for me.”
Wang has also moved into the NBA world, outfitting hoopsters Frank Kaminsky, Stanley Johnson and Jerian Grant, who was named bestdressed at the 2014 NBA draft by Men’s Journal and USA Today. All told, Wang outfits around 100 professional athletes.
Wang is clearly passionate about his work— he takes 43 measurements of each client to ensure a perfect fit, letting the patron choose between some 20,000 fabrics that come from England and Italy. Each measurement is sent to his tailors in China, who handcraft each suit.
Wang’s casual demeanor might be another reason he attracts such star power: During a recent measuring, Forte and Wang banter about their fantasy football teams, and Wang teases Forte about his hair (or lack thereof).
As he goes to leave, Forte pulls Wang in for a playful hug. “My guy!” he says.
Wang finishes his session with Forte, then goes back to his fabrics, continuing his search for the perfect fit.
Ready-to-wear shirts from $150 and suits from $1,250, bespoke shirts from $300 and suits from $2,000, 555 W. Jackson Blvd., 312.631.3278, esqclothing.com