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As of 2022, based on an analysis of population-based studies from the National Center for Health Statistic and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average American male stands at around 5’9” (though researchers admit that most respondents tend to report a higher estimate of up to a full inch over their actual height). But at menswear brand Peter Manning NYC, average is not the goal. Founded in 2012 by award-winning theatre producer Peter Manning and now solely owned by retail entrepreneur Jeff Hansen, the brand takes pride in providing proportionally fit menswear for the estimated 30% of men who are under that average range.

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While “big and tall” is a common enough category and for some time the one-size-fits-all shapeless top was ubiquitous, finding the right size in the other direction has been challenging. Even with brands that offer various sizes, it’s fairly easy to end up with something not quite right. As any fashion professional will attest, beyond what one chooses to wear as personal style, what really makes or breaks any look is fit. A mere size up can make an outfit bunch up, a size down and it might appear as though one were wearing sausage casing.

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Reportedly, standing at 5’8”, Manning himself was constantly frustrated when looking for well-fitting clothes that he often resorted to purchasing something he liked then turning to a tailor to have them altered to fit. After finally deciding he’d put up with the practice long enough, he created his own line. Manning introduced a pair of classic chinos specifically made for other men within his height range. A few years later Jeff, a Harvard MBA graduate whose professional experience included working at J. McLaughlin, Frette and La Perla would join the company and take the brand to the next level.

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The concept isn’t without its challenges. Arguably the trickiest is carefully working around words that could very easily bruise the sensitive male ego. Somehow, their approach seems to be working since there is no confusion over the messaging that the brand caters to less “imposing” statures. And Peter’s sartorial sense and Jeff’s business savvy was a winning combination. Together they turned Peter Manning NYC into a sensation.

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Originally launched as an online business, Jeff eventually decided that an omni-channel retail model would increase their reach exponentially. They opened a studio in the Flatiron district in Manhattan to better showcase their range of dress, polo, Henley and T shirts, jeans, casual and dress pants, along with hoodies, vests, jackets and overcoats. The space operates similarly to brands that have made-to-measure services that allows customers, by appointment, to come in to try the prototypes within the range of their body dimension. The appropriate garment is then shipped directly to the customer with a day or two depending on the destination. Prices are accessible: with shirts and pants starting at around $98, suit jackets and pants from $450 and $195 respectively, and outerwear from $195 to $295.

The company’s in-house counsel and marketing strategist Zachary Fields explains that proportion is key. He explains, “Pants inseams start at 25 inches, have a medium rise, slimmer legs with precise knee breaks and narrower ankle openings. Shirts and jackets have narrower and shorter sleeves, slimmer widths and hang exactly right around the waist.” He adds, “We pay as much attention to important details like button stance, size and placement of pockets, as well as the right width for lapels and collars.” In all there are around 12 shirt and 50 pant sizes based on height, weight and body type with slim, standard and wide fits. The brand uses a proprietary 1 to 4 sizing system as well as 2X, 4X and 4XL that covers men from 5’7” and 145 pounds to 5’10” and 200 pounds. All the garments are designed by a production team while a 15,000 square foot warehouse in Brooklyn serves as storage and shipping center of all the garments.

Although the traditional notion of an alpha male being “tall, dark, and handsome” may never really go away, standards of masculine pulchritude do change with every generation. These days there’s hardly any doubt that society has reached an evolved and inclusive point where matinee idols now come in all shapes, sizes and skin color. And with gentlemen like Daniel Radcliffe (5’5”), Tom Cruise (5’7”), Oscar Isaac (5’7”), and Tom Holland (5’8”) at the forefront of the biggest global blockbusters, any question about height is rendered moot. When you wear clothes that looks at though they were made for you and fit properly, you will feel as though you were ten feet tall.

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