New York City tailor Daniel Weger ’02 makes the elegant menswear worn on stage and screen by well-known actors. Nathan Lane recently came to Weger’s studio to be fitted for a new film. Tom Cruise wears his clothing in the upcoming crime thriller “Mena.” Bandleader Jon Batiste dons his suits for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Weger also makes clothes for Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, Ben Stiller, Dan Stevens, David Strathairn, Liev Schreiber, James Franco and Terrence Mann, WCU’s Carolyn Plemmons Phillips and Ben R. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre, who took over for Kelsey Grammar in the Broadway production of “Finding Neverland.”
Weger started sewing as a work-study student majoring in theatre at WCU, earning money for tuition by making costumes for campus productions. After graduating, he worked in the costume departments of the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, the Washington National Opera and the Shakespeare Theatre Arts Company in Washington, D.C. He earned an MFA in costume production at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2009.
He was working in New York City as head tailor at the renowned costume shop, Eric Winterling Inc., when his son, Theodore, was born with Angelman syndrome, a rare and incurable disorder. Weger left full-time employment to help his wife, Christina, provide care for their child, now 3 years old. He set up a sewing machine in his living room and worked from home. Clients continued to call and the business kept growing. His new studio, B.D. Weger Tailoring, opened this year in the Times Square area of Manhattan.
An exacting and time-consuming craft, custom menswear tailoring is considered a dying art and a shrinking field, Weger said. The additional challenges of raising a child with disabilities make life difficult at times, but also rewarding. “I rarely sleep more than four hours per night, but feel truly blessed to be this child’s father,” he said. “I see him fight for everything he achieves and it helps me think, ‘I’ve got this.’ It takes relentless work, but life’s largest reward can be achieving what you set out to do.”