Going Custom: Experiences and thoughts from the Traveling Tailor event

October 3, 2012 · 21 comments

in Review, Spotlight On

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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.

About

Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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