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Designs by THOR brings custom tailoring to Oregon City
Tony Iyke wants to make people look good without emptying their wallets. That's why he started his custom-tailoring business, Designs by THOR, which opened in downtown Oregon City on June 28.
His slogan says it all: "Your style is my business."
Iyke makes professional and formal clothes for men and women, cut from high-quality fabrics from both local and international sources. He does alterations, as well as fashioning handcrafted wallets, briefcases, handbags, scarves, silk ties and leather belts.
Iyke has lived in Oregon City for the past nine years; that's one reason he set up shop at 820 Main St., Suite D, and most of his clients live in nearby West Linn and Lake Oswego.
"I love Oregon City; I have always believed that Oregon City will become a popular destination. It's right in the middle of the metro area and accessible," Iyke said.
Designs by THOR will be featured in FashioNXT, a runway show on Oct. 14 in Portland. Iyke also will showcase his designs Nov. 5 at the Portland Fashion & Style awards show at the Portland Art Museum, where he is a finalist for best menswear designer in the People's Choice category.
Although the business is new, Iyke traces his tailoring skills and eye for design back to childhood, when his mother taught him to sew while he was growing up in Nigeria.
"It came naturally to me; I grew up in that environment," he said
Rose, his mother, died 10 years ago, and the name of his business is an homage to her: THOR stands for The House of Rose.
Iyke came to the United States 14 years ago and trained to be an engineer before starting a career as a real estate broker. He wanted to open a tailoring business in 2008, but the Great Recession put his plans on the backburner.
But in 2014, with the economy showing signs of improvement, Iyke began putting together an official business plan. He had been doing tailoring on the side, but in 2016 finally decided to go full time with what he loved.
Why should customers come to him for a handmade garment?
"That's like asking why you should wear rain boots when it's flooding," Iyke said.
He added, "The questions really should be: Why not wear a custom-made suit?"
It is good value for the money, Iyke said, noting that one of his suits will outlast two to three mass-produced suits purchased at a mall.
He is inspired by London's Saville Row shops, which he described as the "heart of tailoring."
His designs are classic because, "I don't like trendy; I'd rather set trends."
Iyke added, "The whole purpose of a suit is to flatter and hide the imperfections that we all have and make that person look better."
Much of what he does is educate his customers about fabrics and fit, he said noting that whenever possible he buys his fabric locally from the Mill End Store in Milwaukie and Fabric Depot in Portland.
He also travels to China once a year to meet with silk manufacturers because "China is the best in the world when it comes to silk."
Even the leather for his bags and belts is hand-selected from stock in Texas, Iyke said.
Making a suit
It can take 40 to 60 hours to make a custom suit, Iyke said, including one to two fittings, once the suit is under construction.
The first step is to create the structure of the suit jacket using horsehair canvas; it is made by hand and the finished canvas fits between the lining and the outer fabric of the garment.
"The longer you wear the jacket, your body heat helps form it closer to your body," Iyke said.
He rarely uses patterns unless he is experimenting with a new design, he said, adding that he takes full measurements and puts those on the fabric for the garment.
For men's and women's suits he uses high-quality, super 120 weight wool, which feels luxurious but can be worn to work every day. He also makes garments using linen, silk and upholstery fabric.
His expansion plan includes offering sewing classes for people who want to be creative with design, Iyke said.
But for right now, he is focused on his goal of "making people look their best. You don't have to break the bank to look good."
Customize your style!
What: Designs by Thor, custom clothing made in OC.
Where: 820 Main St., Suite D
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; appointments by request
Coming up: Designs by THOR will be featured at 8 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the FashioNXT event at 2204 N. Randolph Ave., in Portland. The 2017 Mercedes Benz of Portland-sponsored Portland Fashion & Style Awards will take place at 6 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., in Portland.