In the Details

Coastal Bespoke focuses on custom touches for menswear

IS IT ANY SURPRISE that when it comes to building relationships, finding love, or securing success, confidence plays a major role? So, it makes sense the art of confidence boosting is a massive money-making machine that grosses millions not just for women, but men, too. 

JOY DAVIDSON (shown left with husband Kevin), owner and founder of COASTAL BESPOKE, a custom tailor and shirt-making business in Wilmington for men, will be the first to tell you, despite the machismo, guys really do worry about the way they look.

How does she know? What makes her an expert? Simple. Her husband, Kevin, used to be one of those men.

“It started just before we got married,” Joy Davidson says up while talking about the origins of Coastal Bespoke. “He was very displeased with the clothes he was finding in the department stores. Being a larger, athletic-built man, it was so difficult to find clothes, shirts, pants, suits – anything that fit right. It was the struggles of searching for a suit for the rehearsal dinner, the formal dinners, and the honeymoon, too. And it broke my heart to see it. So, we said, I think we can do better.”

Originally from Winston-Salem, she met her future husband while attending East Carolina University. After graduation, they moved forty-five minutes west of Washington, D.C., but after their daughter, Clover, was born the couple decided to move “somewhere warmer” and have been active members of the Port City community since 2007.

Operated out of the Davidsons’ home, Coastal Bespoke has been able to take the cost out of custom-made clothes by eliminating hefty overhead fees. And by doing so they have kept their price points in a range that can reach a broad spectrum of people.

“By making (our clothes) in-house – and when I say in-house I mean in-house – we can cut a lot of the cost for retail space and bring that savings back to the customer,” Joy Davidson says. “Or we can come to you, if that fits your needs better, because we don’t have to worry about conventional store hours. We are flexible. Customer service is the most important part of our business.”

A close second in terms of importance for Coastal Bespoke, is keeping the business local. Joy Davidson prides herself on keeping her customer’s dollars in Wilmington. She wants to make sure Coastal Bespoke’s presence is noticed here in the community and another way to do that, she says, is partnering with companies that make clothing in the U.S.

The custom details they’ve developed help add to the confidence factor in their menswear.

“I love watching my husband walk into a room and become noticed. And it had nothing to do with the pattern or the color of his clothes, really. It had to do with him wearing something that was meant for him," Joy Davidson says.

"He loves to watch me shine, and I like to watch him shine, too.” she says.

Speaking of pattern and color, if you haven’t ordered custom clothing in the past, there are a few things to consider. It’s all about education – fabric swatches, texture, stitch color, pockets, collar style, lining, and measurements, measurements, measurements.

At Coastal Bespoke, not a single detail is overlooked, because for the Davidsons, clothing is not just something you simply put on or take off. Whether it’s choosing a formal French cuff or something more casual, like a button cuff – clothes are an investment.

Joy Davidson’s newest design for the spring and summer involves something truly creative – taking one’s own signature and placing it literally on your cuff. The polka dot shirt is another one of her favorites.

And of course, gingham and seersucker in a coastal area never goes out of style. Suits start at a $650, and custom-tailored shirts begin at $109.

 “Let me offer you one shirt that fits your particular measurements. Then, put on that department store shirt that’s cut from a pattern. You can feel the differences – do your sleeves move with your arm or does it pull from the bicep? Clothes are meant to move, to change with you, because life changes,” Joy Davidson says.

Looking ahead, the Davidsons see Coastal Bespoke staying exactly where it is. Sure, they hope to build their brand, refine their products, and expand their customer base. Maybe they’ll develop a father-and-son clothing line one day (to honor their four-year-old son, Knox), but for the most part their focus is letting everyone know simply they exist.

Even if it’s just a phone call with a question on a color, style, or pattern, Joy Davidson says, they are here for customers. Her business is about building relationships and feeling special.
“Everyone deserves to feel that way,” she says. “And everyone deserves attention.” 



Measuring Up


Fabric choice is the first step of picking out a custom-made shirt, suit, lining, or pants. Coastal Bespoke owner Joy Davidson starts by pulling fabric swatches in the price range a customer is looking for, and from there the field is open.

Monograms on the pocket or cuff – the most popular option – can be added in the person’s color of choice, whether personal favorite or even sports team colors. “We like to add those little details because that just screams custom,” Davidson says.

And when it comes to custom details, it extends all the way down to something as simple as a button.

There’s the thickness and its material – most are mother of pearl, but there are other options as well. Even the button color or thread color can be coordinated to complement the shirt or bowtie. Coastal Bespoke works with a vendor from California to make their ties and bowties.

And the signature detail of a uniquely tailored piece is the custom label that accompanies it. “All of the suit jackets and sports coats will come with their name inside,” Davidson says. Another bonus: It makes it harder for you to lose.  


To view more of photographer Kevin Kleitches work, go to