21 Comments.

Hey gents,

A few weeks ago, I attended Indochino’s Traveling Tailor event. You may recall the suit giveaway we held in celebration of TT coming to San Francisco, where EG is based.

I jotted down a few thoughts post-custom suit fitting while sipping on a subpar Old Fashioned from the Seasons bar in the Four Seasons hotel (most disappointing $14 I’ve spent in a while, might I add… step your #OF game up, Seasons).

So in case you didn’t get the chance to come down for whatever reason, here’s my firsthand account of the event. I’ve been iffy about custom clothing for a while now. Not trying to discredit it at all, but it seemed to me like a hassle not worth overcoming.

But… after experiencing a fitting myself, I think I may have been officially converted.

To be fair, the experience in person is much different from, say, having your wife, brother, or dog measure you at home while you stand around in your underwear.

Here’s how the appointment went

…and I’m sure it’s similar no matter which TT event you attend… next one being in NY at the end of October, by the way.

You enter the space and are greeted by a warm group of gents clad in gray suiting, and some ladies as well (in dresses, not suits). After checking in, you wait for the next available gray-suited gent to assist you, which didn’t take long at all since there are plenty of associates helping out.

The Measuring

You’re taken to your own changing space as the specialist starts taking your measurements, all the while giving you the history of the company, where they’ve started, what their mission is, and why a custom suit is different and ultimately better than anything off the rack.

I enjoyed this because 1. I like hearing about companies that are creating my clothing, and 2. I appreciate the history behind it, even if the company is only a few years old.

A few measurements are taken (neck, chest, hip, arm length, wrist) and from there, a sample jacket is chosen from the rack. I believe the numbers ranged from 1-12, I assume based on general overall combined measurements. In this case I was a 5.

Here’s where custom is so beneficial compared to off the rack. There are standard general sizes that more or less fit any body with my similar measurements, but since every body is different, a custom fitting can address these slight distinctions and adjust them accordingly, which results in the perfect suit for your specific body.

The Fitting: Jacket

So I fit a 5 from their sample jackets, but since my back is slightly wider than the sample size, it caused the jacket’s shoulders to pucker and my upper biceps were bulging a bit (damn, I’m so buff), causing this weird fit at the shoulder. The measurement specialist accounted for this by adding 1/2 inch to each shoulder, which will alleviate the tightness nicely.

Another adjustment was made to the length of the jacket. I’m 5’9″, so I typically like my jackets shorter so they’re more proportioned to my body. Also, a shorter jacket gives the illusion of height, which I don’t mind at all.

The sample size 5 hit the third knuckle on my thumb (the one closest to my fingernail). The specialist suggested that it hit my second knuckle, and he showed me the difference by folding up the hem to the appropriate height.

It’s a slight adjustment, but even an inch can make the biggest difference. With custom, you don’t have to settle, and you can perfect every single aspect of your garment.

Side note: This is a great way to measure the length of your blazers. With your arms at your side and palms facing your thighs, take note with which knuckle your jacket lines up.

Third knuckle (right below your thumbnail) is a more traditional length. Second knuckle (where the thumb joins the base of the palm) is a more modern length. The first joint (basically your wrist) is a really fashion-forward, trendy length. Why? Because it’s super short and the opposite of traditional.

Choosing the length of your jacket depends on the look you’re going for. I chose something around the second knuckle, because I wanted less length (makes me appear taller and the jacket is more proportioned) and a more modern look, but I didn’t want the jacket to be too short.

The Fitting: Pants

We went through the same process with the trousers. This was definitely more straight-forward. I fit a sample size 5 in the waist and seat, but since my thighs are more meaty, I needed about an inch allowance in that area. I was also given the choice of a standard or more tapered leg. You should make this choice based on your body composition. I personally went with a standard leg with a slight, slight taper at the ankle.

You also get the choice of cuff or no cuff. I decided on no cuff, because these aren’t pleated pants, and any horizontal line breaks the flow of the garment and can make you appear shorter. Or at least, that’s what you’re told. To me, cuffs can be a personal preference. I have some suit pants with cuffs, and some without. If you really love cuffs, go for it.

Finally I chose the break of my pants. You can choose a standard break, little, or no break. If you need a refresher on break, take a look at this article.

By the way, during the whole measurement process a lady assistant was recording measurements on an iPod Touch, which I realized later was being saved on a customer profile which I can re-use later. Measured once, but able to order custom-fitting clothes over and over again. Perfect, right?

The Fabric Selection Process

After getting measured comes the fun part: selecting the fabric. I was walked through the different fabric choices available at the event (I’d say around 20 total, though I can’t remember exactly) among three different lines, Essentials, Exclusive, and Premium.

Obviously the Premium line had the finest fabrics (sourced from the same mills as some well-known high-end brands), but even their Essentials line was quite impressive. It would be hard to go wrong with anything you choose. I can’t speak personally for every single fabric, but they did feel and look very nice.

Once you select your fabric, it’s on to the lining. They have standard bemberg lining (I believe it was bemberg), a durable, feels-silky-but-is-actually-synthetic lining found in a lot of suits. They also had a few silk selections. I ended up going with the silk.

There are pros and cons to silk lining; namely that it doesn’t last as long. I’ll let you know in a few years after I’ve worn down this suit; this is my first time with silk lining so I’m not sure how true or false that statement is.

The Customizations

Customizing the suit was pretty intense, in a good way. I didn’t realize the number of things that were available for me to customize.

Click to enlarge the photo to the right if you want to see the different customizations I chose. Just imagine going through these one by one, looking at examples, and then making a decision.

I felt bad for Daniel (the gent helping me out) since I wanted to know about every single thing. After all, I had to report back to you, right?

I customized the crap out of my suit. The result (hopefully) will be a modern-cut three piece gray suit that I can wear every day if I had to (but I probably won’t have to).

I chose a three-piece because I can break it up and get more wear out of the suit. If you think about it, you can wear the vest on its own (with denim, chinos, etc.), the jacket on its own (again with denim, chinos), and the pants on their own (with a polo, sport shirt, dress shirt, tube top, bikini top, etc.)

The Other Choices To Make

I was only in the market for a suit, but if you were interested, they have shirts, ties, bows, pocket squares, overcoats, chinos, sport coats, and trenchcoats for sale as well.

If you were buying a shirt, you wouldn’t have to take another set of measurements, but you would have to choose the fabric, collar style, cuff style, and any monogramming you might want. At the event, they had all their collar and cuff choices displayed in a glass case for easy reference.

I checked out their sport coats and trenchcoats; I’m surprised I was able to restrain myself from buying everything I saw. They looked beautiful and knowing that I could have it in my exact measurements is what would make me whip out my wallet.

One thing I am seriously considering is this olive trench. It’s killer, especially in person. I was always under the impression I can’t really pull off trenchcoats; I feel like they’re too long for my height. This one, however, would be customized to my measurement specifications (once again, high five for custom!) so I would never feel like I’m drowning in it. There’s also a short trench option, by the way.

Checkout

Once you’re done picking everything you want, you head up to the checkout stands, a trio of iMacs. An associate totals up your order and boom, it’s placed. You get your order in 3-4 weeks (typically three, but due to the number of orders from the event, they asked we be patient for up to four).

All in all, a really great experience

The thing I like about Indochino specifically is that they are first and foremost a website. This in-person event was merely a personified extension of the experience they’ve created. And in all honesty, it’s exactly how I pictured it to be. So that’s a good thing.

If you guys are interested, I can do a quick follow-up review once I get the suit, which should be in a few weeks.

Regarding custom clothing, it is totally worth it. I don’t expect the fit to be nailed down 100%, but Indochino (and many other custom companies) offer a tailoring credit. If you must, you can take your suit to a tailor and get it adjusted, and they will reimburse you up to $75. You shouldn’t need much more than that, even in an expensive city like San Francisco.

Also, it’s worth it for items you know you’ll use over and over, and for items that need to fit flawlessly. Denim, not necessary. Suits? Definitely. If you have an odd body shape that normal off-the-rack clothing doesn’t accommodate, I’d definitely check into your custom options.

You don’t have to buy a whole wardrobe in one weekend. Start with an item that is most pressing (i.e. a suit, or a nice dress shirt), and save up for that. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it can be, considering you’d spend almost the same amount for an off-the-rack equivalent.

Your Thoughts

Did you go to the event? If so, what did you think? What were your experiences?

If not, have you ever ordered custom? What were your experiences with that?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Till next time!

 

All event photos via Broke and Bespoke.

PUBLISHED October 3, 2012


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr.



  • John

    And the total came to…?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Around $700

  • Scott

    I’ve heard a lot about Indochino suits, and would be very interested in reading a review from you when you receive yours! Sounds like I would really enjoy the Traveling Tailor experience, but would like to know if you are happy with the end product!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Definitely. I’ll make sure to share my thoughts.

  • strickland5

    I went to the SFO event and enjoyed it VERY VERY much. I went with a Essential Prince of Wales three Piece Suit (with dark purple lining) which totaled $488 after taxes. The whole theatre of the event pleased me – it was male pampering at its finest.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      It really was, wasn’t it? I don’t go to many of those events, so it was nice to experience one. I remember the Prince of Wales, I was looking at the one too. Nice choice.

  • Sigtweed & Corduroy

    Great review. I am eagerly awaiting a visit here in Los Angeles, which I am hoping is coming soon.

    One thing…and forgive me for nitpicking, but is sleeve length of a jacket down the the third knuckle really a common choice? Personally i would think that would be way, way to long in any scenario. Maybe it’s just me…

    • http://twitter.com/damenefreghista Chris Rodriguez

      He was talking about jacket length. Not sleeve length.

    • doubleup24@hotmail.com

      not the sleeve length….the jacket length

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Oh, I was referring to the length of the jacket itself, not the sleeve. That would be WAY long, you’re right.

  • http://twitter.com/damenefreghista Chris Rodriguez

    Good review Barron. Im seriously contemplating getting fitted by these guys when they come to LA myself. One thing I’m iffy about, as it has always been the case with Indochino, is the actual quality of the suit once its made. Does it feel like a well constructed suit? Or is it subpar quality(a la Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, etc.)? I’m looking for a light grey jacket that’s in a ligher wool but leaning towards casual. Similar to how you ordered. The pants in my case would be extra since I don’t usually wear suits very much, but regardless I would still rock em. And my experience with custom has only gone to shirting.
    The thing is I’ve never really had a problem with off the rack suiting. But I do want to give it a try and I’m contemplating if its really worth it quality-wise versus a,high end suit on sale. Whats the balance for you? Do you personally think you’re getting what you paid for with a higher end suit on sale, say at around the same price of an Indochino?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I can’t say for certain just yet. I’m confident the quality is comparable, if not better than BR, CK, etc. My justification is this: I would pay the same price for off-the-rack (around $400-$800), but it’s off-the-rack. For a similar quality (not high-end, but still comparable at the same price point nonetheless), I can get it perfectly fitted to my body. I always have believed fit trumps everything (quality, brand name, etc.) assuming a guy can only meet one of these.

      To answer your question though, a high-end suit on sale is always an option, especially since you say off-the-rack is never really a problem. If it were me, I’d have to ask myself how much I’ll be saving on sale, and how much will I have to spend on tailoring. If it equals out, then you can determine whether or not the brand is worth it. Also, I’d have to figure out if it’s really worth the hassle. Once Indochino (or any of the custom clothing companies) dial in your measurements, you never have to think about it again.

  • Jonathan Gutsche

    Were the customizations included in the original price of the suit? I would hate to have the price over-influence my customization, but it could sway my decisions.

    • strickland5

      Yes, it was all included.

  • carlreid

    Great article, I’m thinking of taking the plunge and get fitted for a few suits for my 40th Bday. Thanks for the info.

    Regards,
    Carl from T.O.

  • Chris.

    looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the finished product.

  • http://twitter.com/thegutsche Jonathan R. Gutsche

    Did the suit arrive? What were your thoughts?

  • Matt

    I went to an Indochino event in Ottawa, Canada. I definitely had a sub-par experience. It was clear that the staff were temporary, unqualified hires and had little, if any, experience in fitting clothes. The fitter initially gave me the wrong size sample pants (#6), which were at least three sizes too big and decided to cut down from there. I got an exasperated look for insisting on trying a smaller size from the fitter, but at least the fit was much closer. The salesperson I was assigned to pick my suit did not know about the suits basic features, with the result that had to explain what a boutonnière was and also what pick-stitching was. Furthermore, the salesperson was unprofessional (Did I really need to know how hot the chicks were at the bar last night and how trashed you got??).

    When I got my suit, the pants fit great, but the jacket was much too tight. About a month after the event, they had a couple tailors in town to fix mistakes. So, back the jacket went along with new measurements, ostensibly taken by a tailor with over 10 years experience. About a month later, I got the new jacket and it still didn’t fit properly. I complained to the company about the entire experience and was met largely with indifference. Though they did offer a credit to cover any additional tailoring, at that point I was fed up with the whole process and just gave up. As to my complaints about how the initial fitter bungled my measurements, I was told that I should’ve just submitted my measurements over the internet rather than attend their pop-up store. Wrong answer Indochino!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Ha, that really does sound like a subpar experience. I’ve gotten mixed reports; some had a really great encounter, and others had one similar to yours. It’s too bad there’s so much inconsistency. I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive answer for you, since I was simply an observer of the process vs. the guy organizing the events.

      In any case, hopefully this experience doesn’t turn you off to online MTM overall. I think the product can be good, and to address your final sentence, if I could do it all over, I would rather submit my measurements myself. I know it’s counterintuitive, but I just trust myself more than the temporary staff that may be hired to cover an event.

  • Era’s Fashion

    Good to read this blog post. Thanks for sharing your views regarding custom suiting.

    Regards,
    Rainy Sach
    Custom Tailor Phuket</a

  • Kirstin Guerra

    I would like to take my husband to get a new tailored suit. The ones he has right now don’t seem like they fit him. He is really tall and big, so finding a suit for him is hard. I think it would just be easier to make a custom one. http://www.boscoandbarrazacustomtailors.com