This Company Has Finally Figured Out How To Make Clothes That Fit Tall Guys
I'm almost seven feet tall, so it's a virtual guarantee someone is going to stop me and request a picture or ask a question I've heard too many times whenever I go out in public.
It's like being a celebrity, just without any of the money and fame.
Last summer, I decided I needed to know what my life would be like if I (or, more specifically, my knees and ankles) had never given up on the dream of eventually becoming the baller Skee-Lo won a Grammy for rapping about in 1996.
On a balmy Thursday evening in June, I donned a suit I bought in a buy-one-get-three-free sale, clipped on a pair of fake diamond studs and walked a few blocks from my apartment to the Barclays Center to get "drafted" by the Utah Jazz.
Over the next couple of days, I got a taste of what life is like for an NBA draft pick -- from the high of hearing your name on "SportsCenter" to the low of trying to keep your brain from shutting down in the middle of your 20th straight radio interview with a host who somehow is always named "Dan."
Reality set in when I arrived to work on Monday and opened an inbox filled with the usual amount of unsolicited pitches from PR firms.
I quickly realized the only thing that had really changed was I'd have a more creative answer to give to the constant stream of strangers who are disappointed to discover I don't play basketball.
A couple of months later, long after my ego had shrunk back to an appropriate size, I received what I thought was just another one of those emails from a fellow tall person named John Reynolds who said he and co-founder Kevin Flammia were launching a menswear company called RFM designed for tall, athletic guys.
I was intrigued, but I didn't want to set my expectations too high. There's a reason stores that traditionally target tall people are called "Big and Tall" -- they tend to assume people grow outward as they grow upward, which is why half the shirts I try on resemble a maternity dress draped over a coat rack.
However, this was the closest I'd ever get to having a clothing endorsement like every real, respectable basketball player. That alone was worth the subway ride from my office to visit the RFM headquarters in SoHo.
Before I continue, I should make it clear my fashion sense is best described as "startup chic"-- my wardrobe is a collection of the least ill-fitting button-ups and t-shirts I've collected over the years occasionally paired with a rotation of generic sweatshirts.
In short, I'd make a fantastic extra if they ever decide to make a sequel to "The Social Network."
I spent more time picking the outfit I'd wear to RFM than I have for any date I've ever been on, trying on my least billowy and unshapely shirts in the hope I might be able to convince John I had at least a vague idea of what "fashionable" looks like.
However, it was clear upon walking into the office I was overmatched. I was immediately met with a rack filled with the kind of clothing I'd seen featured in the style section of GQ that I'd never had a chance to wear because designers assume everyone over 6' 2" has the body type of an offensive lineman.
John picked out a blazer for me to try on, and when I turned to look into the mirror, I finally understood how Cinderella felt when she stepped into the gown her tiny animal friends had designed for her.
For the first time in my life, I was wearing nice clothes that fit the way clothes are supposed to. I had seen the promised land. There was no going back now.
I met with John a few more times over the ensuing months as he continued to develop the line.
He gave me a fair amount of insight into why it's virtually impossible for tall people to walk into a store and expect to find clothing that fits them.
The root of the problem is most designers create their clothes based on a "fit" model who stands at 5' 11" and weighs 175 pounds.
The reason it's virtually impossible to find clothes in larger sizes that actually fit is that designers are operating under the assumption anyone who's 6' 5" also weighs 300 pounds.
The majority of clothing lines are based on the proportions in the graph on the left, even though the numbers on the right are a more accurate representation of the general population.
John told me linear grading was originally instituted as a way to efficiently produce uniforms for soldiers of various sizes during WWII, and the garment industry has never been motivated to change it. He believes RFM is the first company to launch a menswear line using non-linear sizing, which makes a world of difference for taller guys.
Curious about how RFM figured out the optimal fit? They had more than 10,000 tall guys like me step inside a body scanner to figure out what a "normal" body type really is for men above six feet.
The scan maps more than 420 points and individual measurements, which is either fascinating or terrifying depending on whether or not you're as critical of your body as I am.
The result? Clothes that fit better than anything I've ever worn.
This isn't a picture of the first time I looked in the mirror after trying on a blazer, but it basically sums up the emotional reaction I had.
John was nice enough to let me stage a fairly impromptu photo shoot at the RFM office last weekend, which basically involved me staring into the mirror in amazement 90 percent of the time.
This is my "Blue Steel."
RFM is currently taking preorders before rolling out its full line within the coming months.
While the clothes are on the pricier side, after trying on the majority of the line I can easily say I'd much rather spend money on a perfectly-fitting blazer I know I can turn to on nights I'm trying to impress people instead of a closet full of jackets that "almost" fit.
If you're a tall guy who's tired of the buying clothes that fit "good enough," RFM might be your savior.
Thanks to RFM Clothing for providing the outfits featured in this article.