Clothing designer meets the sartorial needs of "not so tall" men

Designer Peter Manning. 

CBS News

There's a certain kind of man who people think gets all the attention. Pop culture has always favored the tall guy and that leaves a lot of men out. The average American man stands at just about 5-foot-8 inches and those who measure below that can have a hard time finding the right clothes.

But 5-foot-8 clothier Peter Manning wants to change that, reports CBS News contributor Jamie Wax. He says that typically, short-statured men have had to go for alterations just to get clothes to fit.

"We call it the tailor tax," Manning said. "I just spent a fortune at the tailor….And I just thought, this is crazy. You shouldn't have to fix all of this stuff."

So the former Broadway producer stepped into a new role on the sartorial stage, providing apparel for men 5-foot-8 and under. 

ctm-010518-shortfashion.jpg
Designer Peter Manning CBS News

Manning sold clothes online for two years before he opened up a brick-and-mortar shop in New York's trendy Flatiron district, giving the vertically-challenged a proper place to shop -- though marketing messages to men of a certain stature can be touchy.

"What do we call those of us who are – small framed?" Wax asked.

Manning calls it "not so tall."  

"That still sounds cute to me. And to me, it's not a cute issue. To me, it's a non-issue but it's certainly not cute," said Mark-Evan Blackman, a professor of menswear at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"Most people, if they're short, have other people in their families that are the same height and it's their norm. I don't think we call ourselves anything," Blackman said.

ctm-010518-shortmen-1.jpg
Mark-Evan Blackman   CBS News

While Blackman may find the "not so tall" slogan ill-suited, he says designs for shorter men do address a need.

"It's a market that is still under-valued," he said. "The challenge is in that particular market, in any market, is coming up with good design."

Blackman says good design these days means a trim, form-fitting cut.

"Keeping your leg as slim as you can when you're not so tall really helps," Manning said. "Wives and girlfriends love us….They say, 'finally, I can see my husband's butt!'"

Manning says the right cut makes his clients look sharp.                    

"It matters. Fit really matters."