One Good Suit: Indochino

Indochino 1 a One Good Suit: Indochino
Indochino has been one of the single most important influences in the business of made-to-measure suiting.  The company was a first mover when it created the first truly viable online customized clothing model, a market that continues to expand everyday.

While ubiquitous today, when Indochino launched in 2007 the idea of actually spending real money for a custom suit bought over the internet and manufactured somewhere in China was at best, iffy.  But Indochino focused on a core message of customization at a fair price, speed, and the potential ease of reorders, allowing a customer to expand his custom clothing wardrobe.  A website that acts design and retail home base backed up by their innovative Traveling Tailor pop-up shops has kept Indichino at the front of the online custom suit pack.

Indochino Labels One Good Suit: IndochinoThis suit was actually selected during a 2013 Traveling Tailor event in Washington, D.C.  It is the Premium Gray Three-Piece Suit in Reda fabric, which was a special run and not always available.  The super 140 weight is just right for a three-season suit and the classic cut and color is appropriate for almost any situation.  We opted for two-button, notch lapel, side vents, working sleeve buttons, ticket pocket, and no cuffs on the trousers.

The quality of construction and design as quit impressive and frankly better than expected, given the business model.  As with all Indochino products, it arrived in purpose-designed packing, slickly branded, and ready to wear.  Except that it wasn’t.  Even though measurements were taken in person by an Indochino staffer, the suit coat and vest were both too tight.  To their credit, the company unquestioningly held to their satisfaction guarantee, fixed the issue, and quickly replaced both pieces, updating the online profile as well.

While certainly frustrating, such a situation is also to be expected with this kind of business model.  It’s part of the price when removing ongoing personal attention from a very personal craft.  In the end, mattered was how the problem was resolved, in this case very well.

The goal for this suit was to be the one go-to suit that works for most situations.  We feel the effort was a success; it’s a great suit of cloths that fits well, has comfortably slim cut that works dressed up with a tie or toned down with an open collar.  The trouser break is slight, so depending on the shoes chosen the look can be ankle flash mod or meeting-ready sober.

While having a big suit wardrobe may work for CEOs, lawyers, and other boardroom dwellers, the fact is that most men do not need more than two or three.

Wanting more is another thing, and a desire that Indochino is more than happy to satisfy.

Indochino 2 a One Good Suit: Indochino

Indochino 3 a One Good Suit: Indochino

Suit: Indochino
Shirt: Thomas Pink
Tie: Andrew’s Ties
Pochet: Alan Flusser
Shoes: Paul Evans

 

Ignatious Joseph’s 2014

Portrait 42 1 1024x682 Ignatious Josephs 2014

Ignatious Joseph, while the consummate gentleman, is not at all a subtle man.  The designer, known for his colorful, elegant, and distinctive style of dress, particularly his ubiquitous red shoes, makes some of the finest dress shirts available.  As we enter 2014, he is also poised to introduce an expanded line of custom clothing founded on his own signature style.

His shirting, based on those from the 1930s, when the soft collar first swept through the menswear world, is coveted by bankers and traders from London to New York, Milan to Brussels.  Up until now, shirts, and only shirts, were what he made; that signature soft collar and vibrant color schemes being brand’s calling cards.

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Now, his look, truly unique and elegant in its individuality, can be yours.  You can contact him directly to learn more, but the expanding Ignatious Joseph collection now includes suiting, ties, cufflinks, and even grooming products.

And, unlike other designers whose products are of exceptional quality yet are nonetheless somewhat interchangeable, these garments and furnishings bear the characteristic hallmarks of Mr. Joseph’s personality.  Jackets with broad lapel, roped shoulder, and single button closure and sharply tapered trousers with no break and a deep, emphatic cuff.

Cufflinks 8 1 300x200 Ignatious Josephs 2014His idiosyncratic cufflinks are beautifully crafted and the ties are handmade seven-fold and constructed from a single piece of flawless silk.

And, of course, there are the shirts.  The philosophy behind his shirts is simple: they are luxury shirts for everyday wear; or to put it another way, a modern sense of spirit derived from traditional craftsmanship. Ignatious Joseph shirts are what might be called semi-handmade and there is a reason for that.  The bodies are constructed to an obsessive level of detail using modern sewing machinery – efficient and replicable perfection.  However, the collars are constructed each by hand entirely as no machine is capable of the detail and complexity.

The decision of what to do by hand and what to do by machine must be taken with a view to the product as a whole, and based on the skill and experience of the master shirt maker.  It’s a blend of economics and craft.

IngJoseph Sartorialist 682x1024 Ignatious Josephs 2014If Ignatious seems somehow familiar to you, it is likely because his distinctive countenance is often captured among the world’s leading style makers.

In fact, this photograph, taken by Scott Schumann, a.k.a. “The Sartorialist,” was included in Schumann’s first book.  Resplendent in a bowler hat, elegantly bundled scarf, tailored overcoat and those famous red shoes from his Viennese shoemaker, Mr. Joseph is in his natural element.

On the subject of those famous red shoes he says, “I like red shoes and have many pair, and after a while they became my calling card – it’s how people remember me. ‘Oh, you are the gentleman with the red shoes!’”

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Deo Veritas: The Best Online Custom Shirts

DSC 0557 Deo Veritas: The Best Online Custom Shirts

Deo Veritas makes custom shirts and as far as we are concerned, theirs are some of the finest OTC has reviewed.  From fabric to fit to construction to detail, the product is exceptional and perhaps the closest to bespoke we have found.

Established in 2007, this Chicago-based company is focused on providing outstanding shirting, perfecting the customer experience, building out their market presence, and refining an already user-friendly website.  And, we discovered that the brand’s stated goal of combining, “old world craftsmanship with 21st century technology to provide you with the best looking and fitting shirts you’ll find anywhere,” is not mere hyperbole.  The crisp and precise nature of the flawless single-needle stitching, for example, speaks to this maker’s attention to detail and focus on execution.

Deo Veritas (Latin: “In God there is truth”) makes a shirt that can stand toe-to-toe with any premium high street label.  We did our own side-by-side comparison with a couple of well recognized name brand shirts and were truly taken by Deo Veritas’ notable superiority in fabric quality, construction, finishing, and fit.

That last point – fit – is perhaps an unfair point of comparison as it is a Made to Measure product.  However, the quality of that fit is better than almost any other MTM shirt OTC has tested, let alone an Off the Rack shirt, high end or not.  However, with all that being said, the sizing option we chose for this particular shirt was actually the “standard” tool.  So, in fact, it is more similar to an OTR shirt than a MTM shirt, which makes it that much more impressive.

For this shirt, we opted for an Italian light blue gingham check, by Ferno, which is a more expensive fabric.   Of particular note are the many options from which a customer can choose and which allow him to create a truly customized garment.  The choices include sewn collar construction, for which we opted, several collar choices, and distinctive plackets for both the shirt and sleeve.  To be sure, many other retailers offer similar combinations; but what matters is the finished product. And here, Deo Veritas wins out handily.

While OTC reviews a fair number of brands and products, we do not make these types of pronouncements lightly.  But in this case, Deo Veritas delivered and then it delivered some more (and well within the stated 28 days, worldwide promise).

DSC 0538 Deo Veritas: The Best Online Custom Shirts

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CSHogan w Clegg Bag Deo Veritas: The Best Online Custom Shirts

Fashion360 Small Deo Veritas: The Best Online Custom Shirts

 

 

 

OTC x Aspetto: A Great Fit

Aspetto Lead Shot 683x1024 OTC x Aspetto: A Great Fit

When we first wrote on our plan to review a custom made-to-measure suit from the Fredricksburg, Virgina-based company Aspetto, we mentioned that founder Abbas Haider first entered the clothing game making bulletproof suits for high-profile clients around the world.  How, we wondered, would that impressive feat translate into a more traditional garment for less dangerous endeavors?

As it turns out, quite well.  Our Aspetto suit arrived needing some minor tweaking to address the jacket’s fit through the chest;  a reasonable and not unexpected issue.  With a single fitting and remote manufacture, the need for some final tailoring should be always expected.  Indeed, at the other end of the spectrum, with bespoke tailoring anywhere from three to six detailed fittings are common throughout the process.  At each fitting, the garment is adjusted and refined so that by the time of delivery it is literally a perfect fit.

Once the last bit of tailoring was finalized, the the Aspetto suit’s fit was excellent – in fact much better than expected.  The shoulders and chest are spot-on and the sleeve length is just what we wanted for exposing a liberal amount of cuff.  The suit’s overall proportion and balance look and feel right.

As a three-piece suit, we are pleased to have a vest that both fits very well and also possesses a self-fabric back.  This is an unusual feature proved the garment with a stand-alone quality that can be used on its own, apart from the suit.

Overall, OTC’s Aspetto suit is not only well-made and great fitting, it has also been the recipient of many compliments and queries as to the maker.  Aspetto is a brand to watch, and a suit to wear.

In fact, if you are in Fredricksburg, Virgina, on June 15th, you can find out for yourself.  Aspetto is celebrating the grand opening of its flagship store.  Stop in if you can.

Details: Suit, Aspetto. Custom Shirt, VM Clothiers. Neck Tie, Andrews Ties. Bow Tie, Bull & Moose. Pocket Square, Alan Flusser. Ruc Tote Bag, J. Panther Luggage. Shoes, Finns.

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From Ready-Made to Bespoke

 From Ready Made to Bespoke

Jon Green is a celebrated New York-based bespoke clothier well-known to readers of Forbes, The Financial Times, and American Express’ ‘Departures’ magazine. He is also a good friend of OTC and occasional contributor. Here, Jon provides us with a useful breakdown of the various forms that tailored clothing can take, from ready-made to bespoke.

Bespoke is a term that has been widely used in the United Kingdom for centuries, but has only recently been employed in the United States by tailors attempting to distinguish “bespoke” construction from “made-to-measure,” “custom,” and “bench,” terms often incorrectly used interchangeably. The word bespoke is derived from the English verb of the 17th century, “to bespeak,” i.e., “to speak for something, to give order for it to be made.”

As such, bespoke is actually a very specific and clearly defined term. However, it is also a word so unique and meaningful to the clothing space that marketers and retailers now use it to convey any form of personalization designed to instill a sense of special uniqueness.

The growing menswear market has been especially guilty of this tactic, calling virtually anything that can be customized in any way, bespoke. On the face of it, those who deal in the world of true bespoke will never be confused by this colorful marketing gambit. And, most of those who employ the term to differentiate or highlight their wares or product are often fully cognizant of their deception, mild though it may be.

Still, having a clear understanding of the terms and methods of construction ascribed to various types of clothing, how they are made, and the inherent quality and attention to detail associated with each, is invaluable.

Ready-Made

Ready-made clothing is cut from ‘graded’ commercial patterns. The process of grading was developed over 150 years ago with the advent of massed produced pattern-built clothing. As standardized sizing does not exist, all manufacturers/designers develop their own patterns and grade them. Grading systematically increases or decreases measurements in order to maintain consistent fit and styling throughout a range of sizes. The intent is that they will fit and look the same on everyone regardless of size, which means they fit no one particularly well.

Since most men hate to shop for their clothing, the task often falls to a significant woman, who sends the man, or drags him to the store or a neighborhood tailor for alterations. 70% of men’s tailored clothing sold in the United States is bought by women.

Often, women have a greater degree of confidence buying menswear made by a designer they like for their own clothing. Therefore, manufacturers consider it more important for their suits to look good on a mannequin and to have ‘hanger appeal’ than tackling the impossible task of trying to fit so many different body types and sizes with garments cut from graded commercial patterns. Once cut, the ready-made suit is assembled on a production line by machine operators trained in specialized piecework.

Made-to-Measure

Made-to-Measure clothing is cut and made in the same way as ready-made clothing with one exception: a ready-made pattern is adjusted during cutting for some of the fitting requirements of the customer. The garment is then assembled in the same way as ready-made by machine operators on the same production line. However, a few manufacturers report areas in their factories used exclusively for their made-to-measure production.

As the U.S. economy rapidly expanded after World War II through the 1960s, the growing demand of men seeking more specificity in their tailored clothing, and willingness to pay extra for it, persuaded men’s clothing manufacturers to offer made-to-measure clothing as an accommodation to the stores for whom they made ready-made clothing. Today, made-to-measure clothing is the fastest growing segment of men’s tailored clothing business.

Bespoke

16K3743 682x1024 From Ready Made to BespokeBespoke clothing requires a much more extensive process. Bespoke clothing is a collaboration initiated with a conversation with the client to determine preferences of style, cloth, and the appropriateness of colors.

The construction of bespoke clothing begins with a master pattern maker and cutter hand-drafting and hand-cutting a paper pattern specific to the individual. This pattern will incorporate more than 30 measurements specific to the client.

The cloth and trimmings are then sponged – dampened and allowed to dry – which takes any shrinkage out of them in the even one gets caught in the rain or if a dry cleaner turns up the dryer to shorten drying time. Next, the cloth and the “canvas” are cut and assembled by hand with a needle and thread by a master tailor into a “first fitting” using basting stitches – temporary stitches that do not stress the cloth and are easily removed. After every fitting, the alterations to the garment are recorded on the paper pattern.

After alterations are made, the garment parts are reassembled for the “second fitting.” Following this process, there is usually one more fitting in a more advanced stage of completion.

The finished garment will be made with an abundance of hand tailoring by a single master tailor, a process requiring a minimum of 60 hours for the jacket alone. The paper pattern resulting from this process is kept for use in taking subsequent orders directly to a third fitting, or to finish.

Defining Bespoke

The question is often raised as to why the term bespoke is not more robustly protected. It may seem counterintuitive since the British invented bespoke construction, but while the distinction conferred by “bespoke” is protected by law in France, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the British advertising regulator, has ruled that it is a fair practice to use the term bespoke for products which do not fully incorporate traditional “bespoke” construction methods as described above.

DSC 0053 680x1024 From Ready Made to BespokeIn June 2008, the ASA, ruled that an advertisement describing a suit, “put into a ‘working-frame’ where it would be cut and sewn by machine,” as a “bespoke suit uniquely made according to your personal measurements and specification” was not breaching the Authority’s self-proclaimed advertising codes, notably the truthfulness rule, because the use of the term bespoke was not deemed likely to confuse.  This ruling was significant in formalizing a less traditional definition of bespoke clothing, even though the older distinction with made-to-measure was recognized.

Notably, the ruling also cited the Oxford English Dictionary definition of bespoke as “made to order,” despite the fact a bespoke suit was “fully hand-made and the pattern cut from scratch, with an intermediary basted stage which involved a first fitting so that adjustments could be made to a half-made suit.”  While a suit made-to-measure “would be cut, usually by computer, from an existing pattern, and adjusted according to some of the customer’s measurements,” the ASA stated that both fully bespoke and made-to-measure suits were ‘made to order’ in that they were made to the customer’s precise measurements.

Jon Green
Jon Green Bespoke
509 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
212.861.9611
jon@jongreenbespoke.com