A Brand Grows Up: Indochino

If you follow the rapidly maturing fast-custom segment of the menswear market you now that these days virtually anything can be made ‘custom.’  From jeans to oxfords, khakis to suits to dinner jackets.  And by the way, it’s all online.

The leading brand in this virtual tailoring universe is Indochino, founded by two Canadian university students only a few short years ago.  Operated out of Shanghai, the company produces a full range of made-to-measure business garments including suits, blazers, shirts, trousers and even outerwear.  The entire operation is web-based and self serviced. The products are of very good quality and the process allows for remarkable levels of customization.  And with an average Indochino suit costing about US$400, it’s hard to argue about cost.

Profiled by several leading media outlets, perhaps the most succinct description of the company’s success comes  from BusinessWeek: “A tailor’s job might seem darn hard to offshore. But two college pals not only have figured out how to do it; they’ve turned it into a dot-com business that attracted backing from former Yahoo! President Jeffrey Mallett and customers in 60 countries.”

Since it’s inception, Indochino has evolved from an edgy, slim cut insurgent with somewhat cheesy looking models to a smooth and well managed operation sporting a clean and modern Tom Ford-inspired aesthetic, as you can see from the promotional piece above. In fact, the company’s updated image campaign bears a striking similarity to that of THE RAKE magazines’ distinctive high production value look.

The models are still skinny and the target demographic is still the young professional wanting to dress well but still maintain control over his look – and get it all at a really good price point.  But the product quality, branding, logistics, operations and management have improved significantly.  This is no longer a quirky start-up.  It is a company with ample funding, an innovative, tested model and plans to grow.

For purists, Indochino will never be an acceptable option.  These tend to be to the same folks who debate the number of stitches per inch and the merits of hand-felled shoulders.  While these are genuinely useful discussions, that’s not what Indochino is all about.  It is fast fashion taken to the next level for those who cannot, or choose not to, afford a truly custom suit of clothes.

Having spoken with their business development folks at length on several occasions, I am still impressed with the company’s perpetual introspection: who are we, what can we do better, how can we tweak and improve our model, how can we expand our market and retain quality control?  It’s a constant process of innovation and improvement.  Though it may be an obvious point, Indochino is not competing with Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren or Martin Greenfield.  They do not expect you to opt for their suits over, say something from Savile Row.  However, it’s worth noting that some of Indochino’s biggest customers do indeed have Anderson & Sheppard suits hanging right next to theirs.

I have one Indochino suit that founder Kyle Vucko was kind enough send me a couple of years ago.  Actually, it’s the second suit as the first on did not fit properly.  True to their 100% percent satisfaction guarantee, the made a brand new one after my local tailor determined that he could not adjust the suits’ flaws.  When the replacement arrived, it fit almost perfectly and continues to be a great fit and wardrobe staple.

I’ll probably get a few more suits and try out a blazer and some trousers.  That’s the sweet spot for this company: when you get your sizing squared away and find your best fit, the price point takes over.  Once you know it’s going to fit, or you can make it fit at no additional cost, the prospect of building a wardrobe of customized clothing is eminently affordable.

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  1. Matt

    Good stuff, Chris. I ordered a tux from Indochino over the summer (that I will wear in my wedding) and I love it. The value is tremendous and the hook (I know that the clothes will fit) will keep me returning.

  2. Corey

    Thanks for this post – LivingSocial.com featured Indochino a couple weeks ago and I bought the deal that got me a $150 voucher toward merchandise for only $50. I’m definitely looking forward to using it now.

  3. interesting article! I have a couple of their suits and I’m very happy with them. The new models, website and marketing strategy is not popular with everyone (the golden watch looks cheesy, some models featured black gloves that looked out of place), but it is clear that they are looking for their own identity and they are on a good way.

  4. Reader

    What happened to your posts? Are you exclusively using this blog to plug brands that have sent you stuff now? I used to enjoy reading, now I’m thinking of getting rid of this on my blog list.

  5. Lorenz, very good point about the new look. I thought the same think about the watch. A little gaudy for my taste, but I think it’s part of the overall look they’re going for.

  6. Reader – Please take a deep breath and relax. I’m afraid that I don’t get nearly as much cool stuff as you might think, however, I do make a point of writing about when I do get a chance to test out something worthwhile.

    And just so there is absolutely no confusion, I write about topics that interest me and I hope will interest my readers. Indochino, for example, is a leading and innovative brand that has in many ways redefined the menswear dress market – that’s what I find interesting. The suit I received from the company, made incorrectly I as I pointed out, is now more than 2 years old – nothing new and exciting I’m afraid.

    When I do receive products or services, I disclose it. When I am interested in a company, or product or brand, I write about it. I hope you don’t drop OTC, but that is of course your choice. Thanks very much for letting me know how you feel and let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Randolph and Mortimer

    However, it’s worth noting that some of Indochino’s biggest customers do indeed have Anderson & Sheppard suits hanging right next to theirs.
    Says who? Indochino’s marketing department? Quality aside, from a stylistic point of view I find this hard to believe. A&S drape house style is the complete opposite of Indochino’s slim fit models.

    Instead of writing about mediocre offshore options for faux custom (or fast custom), how about investigating a US based made to measure outfit just up the road from you in murr-land? English American Tailoring co. They are somewhere between the offshore hacks and Martin Greenfield in price point and make for several recognizable names.

    No affiliation with English American, just a thought.

  8. R&M – Actually, I spoke with a younger customer of theirs who is a devotee of A&S but likes the inexpensive fun of occasionally ordering a few Indochino suits. It’s because of the fast fashion nature of the brand and he sees it as an easy way to try something trendy that he knows will fit pretty well. These are not work suits to him, they are going out clothes.

    That is the very reason I find this company interesting. Also, I try an make a point of focusing on a variety of price points because, frankly, a segment of OTC’s readership finds even a $500 suit daunting (let a alone a $9K Jon Green suit). OTC is for them as well and, in this case, Indochino is an option worth exploring.

    Not for you I suspect, but it is for them. Now, that being said, I will definitely cast my gaze to English American Co., which has been brought to my attention a couple of times. Mea culpa on that one as I have meant to get to know them better.

    Also, a pretty extensive Brook Brother’s profile will be going live here shortly – I’ve been working on that one for some time.

    Sound good?

  9. Randolph and Mortimer

    I guess every so often someone who likes Kenny G also likes Megadeth, or who drives a tesla also has a yugo… wasn’t making a judgement on Indochino based on price point or quality relative to A&S, clearly they are in different markets with different goals – just the glaring stylistic differences.

    I doubt Hitchcock would sign off on this, for example:

  10. Reader (again)

    Don’t get me wrong, I like your blog and I do enjoy your writing. I just preferred when most of the posts were about clothes in general with occasional brand reviews here and there, as opposed to the reverse.

  11. Reader – Thanks for the follow-up. I understand your point, and it’s a fair one. Thanks also for your kind words about my writing – that really does me an a lot. Over the years, a lot of my previous articles have indeed been about general topics and guides. I still like to write on these kinds of subjects, like the recent piece on leather folios, but to be honest I needed to explore my interest in how brands affect our style and influence markets.

    Just as with any art form a fixation on one subject, medium or approach can often lead to block. I just needed to dive into some specific companies and brands that have always interested me an I felt deserved some airtime.

    Thanks again for taking the time to let me know how you feel and rest assured, I’ll be ramping up on the general guides soon enough.

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