Monday, August 20, 2012

Made-to-Measure Suits

There’s been some buzz around the web and in my own life about this recently, so I thought I’d quickly share. 

Made-to-measure (MTM) suits are becoming the seemingly new “it” thing in menswear. In the world of suiting, there’s off-the-rack (OTR) options you’d find at a department store; these are typically your lower end options. Despite their sometimes high price tags, they’re lower end for two broad reasons: One has to do with construction and materials. I’ll save that discussion for later, but suffice it to say most big companies use low-end products and quick process that sacrifice quality in order to cut costs. That’s just the way it is.

For our discussion though-TWO-the fit will never be perfect. OTR suits are designed to fit a generic body type, as determined by the company or scientists or whoever determines these things. The geniuses in R&D I guess. But they’ll never fit YOU because YOU are unique, at least in your body type. Your shoulders aren’t perfectly sloped, you may have a little paunch, or if you’re like me, you’ve got biceps like Terry Crews. This is why you should see a tailor. Always.

(That’s not to say OTR can’t be good either. There are companies that offer quality OTR products, and after visiting a tailor, this can be a great style option at a low price.)

The high end of the spectrum is your bespoke, your made to order. A tailor measures you from your brain to your balls to get the fit just right, in every place. You decide fabrics, buttons, and all the other details. As you can imagine, it’s expensive. Most #menswear enthusiasts say it’s totally worth it. I hope to find out someday.

In the middle is MTM, essentially a hybrid of the OTR and bespoke. The company starts out with a stock pattern, but tweak alterations can be made using your measurements, and you can have a say in the color/fabric, etc. 

Indochino's Essential Gray Suit- $379

From this review, this one (and another on the way from here), these suits are a good value. From figures I’ve seen, they’re a little more, if not just as pricey as some OTR options, but they seem well worth it. Indochino goes for under $500; The Proper  Suit at The Midwestyle was $650, and Suit Supply is apparently very reasonable, but with both I believe you have to visit their stores to get measured (Chicago and NYC, respectively).

I have NO experience with any of these products, but I’m extremely curious to give them all a try once my finances can allow it. Frankly, their prices seem really affordable when you consider the quality, fit, and options to customize. Right now I have two Ben Sherman suits I nabbed at the flash sale site Gilt for $250 each (for more info on this site, or a referral, please contact me). They’re good, not great, but I’m definitely satisfied with what I got considering what I paid. I only need two suits at this point in my life, considering I’m still in school and I only wear suits to job interviews and court appearances, but I know I’ll be needing more soon. MTM will be next.

More news as it develops,


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