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Review: Indochino suits

18 November 2008
Given that fit is more important than anything in men’s style (at least according to me), an online service that can provide you with bespoke clothes – even made to measure – has to be a good idea.

Not everyone has a high-quality tailor around the corner, and so access to bespoke is limited. Perhaps more importantly, the lack of tailors at the lower end of the price scale has moved bespoke out of the range of most men.
Indochino
aims to correct both of these problems, by providing bespoke tailoring at reasonable prices over the internet. The suits range from around $250 to $400, which is cheaper than you can get made to measure pretty much anywhere, and shipping is free. Suits are shipped within two weeks and can be altered for $25.

I was invited by Indochino to try out its service and agreed to give it a go. The first thing I noticed was that it offers three different ways to get your measurements. You can measure yourself with a tape measure, measure a suit that fits you well or take instructions to a tailor and ask him to measure you.

This is an improvement on the offerings of most online suit or shirt stores, many of which invite you just to measure yourself – I’ve tried that and it can be tricky. So I went for the second option, to see if this was a viable alternative that might work online. It certainly makes more sense, and seems to offer less room for error.

There are quite professional videos demonstrating how to take the measurements, and the number asked for is impressive. However, the instructions are not necessarily clear. You are asked to lay your jacket flat. But does that mean with the side seams at the edges? Or with the jacket buttoned? Or should their be no overlap of the front panels?

These little points make a big difference – buttoning the jacket reduces your waist measurement by at least an inch, and so it is unlikely to fit. After watching the video several times, and trying to make out how the tailor had his jacket laid, I decided the jacket was buttoned.

Which was the right decision, for when the jacket arrived the waist fit perfectly, as did the arms and the waist of the trousers.

Unfortunately, that was all. The jacket was too small across the chest and the shoulders, and the collar stood away from my neck by about an inch. The trousers were also too short, almost comically so, not even touching my shoes.

Now the length of trousers is easy to alter – I can do that myself. But as I have written in previous posts, the neck is the hardest thing to change and the shoulders the second hardest. It will be expensive to correct and take time.

I have to say I wasn’t that impressed with the quality of the material either, despite it being the most expensive in the range ($400). There were signs of quality elsewhere – the jacket was canvassed, not fused. And it came with a free tie, tie bar and cufflinks.

But I’m afraid it was a disappointment. A service that sells itself on a great fit needs to get that right and it was wrong in many ways. Perhaps I should have gone for the tailor-measured option, for this route obviously didn’t work for me.