Dive into the journey of Michael Iji, a tailor with 36 years of experience and owner of Michael Iji Custom Design & Tailoring Studio, in Cary, NC. From his early apprenticeship in the Nigerian markets to learning from Italian fashion houses, Michael's unique blend of Nigerian and Italian styles has earned him a reputation as a skilled tailor, designing custom menswear with exceptional fabrics.
Michael's designs are a unique blend of his Nigerian roots coupled with at least a decade of Italian influence, resulting in smooth lines and attractive fits. He specializes in designing his own signature style of dress- and business shirts. The downtown studio also supplies formal wear accessories such as pre-tied bow ties in single and double bows, pocket squares, cummerbunds and vests - all custom created upon request. This designer | tailor | shirtmaker is known for using exceptional Italian imported fabrics. One of Michael's early supporters was a fashion shop owner just outside of Detroit, who originally discovered his talent for high scale shirt making back in Michigan and had offered him a chance of a lifetime opportunity in NYC. But Michael chose to stay with his then pregnant wife to welcome his firstborn in late winter. Out of state clients continue to ship shirts & vintage suits to Michael for custom alterations and redesign.
Michael is incredibly personable and has built a close relationship with the management team at a high end fabric mill that provides their exclusive textiles to a select number of larger companies such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Neiman Marcus, and Brooks Brothers. Due to his impressive charisma, language fluency and history in Italy, he was able to source fabric from Tessitura Monti, as he lived some few paces from their fabric mill. Through his travels and knack for establishing sewing opportunities wherever he lands, Michael's reputation has spread, and he has clients from all over the country, entrusting him to do his work without even coming to meet face-to-face in the shop. He was even set to be featured in NY Fashion Week for his menswear design skills before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Michael's passion for tailoring began at the young age of 14 when he started working as an apprentice for la ocal master tailor known around the NIgerian markets. Nigerian tailors are renowned for their intricate pattern work and weaving skills, and Michael quickly honed his craft under their guidance.
After completing his apprenticeship, Michael opened a small shop in the open markets of his hometown in Nigeria with just a sewing machine and a table. He started with basic alterations and hemming but quickly began designing his own clothes from the fabrics he had saved, as he could not afford to buy clothes.
In 2001, Michael moved to Italy and lived in several cities, including Sicily, Naples, Venice, and Padua. During this time, he worked in many Italian fashion houses, learning their techniques, styles, and patterns while incorporating them into his own unique style of clothing design.
In 2010, Michael moved to the United States and worked for a private designer in Michigan as a tailor in an upscale retail store, serving many affluent clients. He gained a reputation as a skilled tailor and became well-known in some influential circles. He was even offered a private tailoring position working with some of the most affluent clients in NYC, but he declined, choosing instead to move to Cary, NC with his wife Adrienne and start a family.
In 2012, Michael started a new tailoring shop out of his home, but it didn't take off. However, he didn't let that stop him. In 2018, he opened Michael Iji Custom Tailored Menswear in Cary, NC, and has been designing custom menswear ever since. Michael's 36 years of experience in the tailoring business, combined with his unique blend of Nigerian and Italian influence, have resulted in the creation of some of the finest custom menswear available today.