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Reader question: Reiss and made to measure

3 June 2009

Thientai: I live in London and never have a chance to get a proper suit. With a tight budget, I can’t afford bespoke, but am quite interested in made-to-measure etc.

The other choice is of course, off the peg. So I browse high street stores a lot, and carefully observe their cutting and materials. One brand strikes my interest, which is Reiss of London. Their suit style seems sleek and contemporary. However they don’t come cheap. I wonder what do you think about their fabric materials and overall quality of the suits. With my lack of expertise, I want to make sure that my hard-earned £400 is worth it. I probably need to do quite a lot of alteration afterwards.

If you suggest their quality doesn’t match the asking price then would it be better to go for, say, A Suit That Fits?

Thientai, a few words first on my experience of Reiss and then some general advice on made-to-measure.

Reiss suits are great, but they are overpriced. I have a two-button suit in brown flannel that I bought a few years ago and it has lasted very well. The material is of good quality and the handiwork has stood up well to a fair amount of abuse and dry cleaning.

I think the biggest advantage of Reiss suits, however, is the individuality of their materials and attention to detail. The brown flannel of my suit is so dark it looks like charcoal to some eyes – definitely dark rather than milk chocolate. I have never seen another wool like it. Equally, friends have Reiss suits in some fantastic checks (large-scale but faint red and green, for example) and there were a few in subtle proportions of mohair recently that caught my eye.

reis-mtm

On the detailing, my suit has some very fine pick stitching around the lapels and beautifully rich mid-brown buttons. Others I’ve seen have experimented with mother of pearl. And I notice that this season the brand has brought out lines with my favourite double-breasted design, with just the two buttons across the waist.

The suit pictured is made with 27% mohair, jetted pockets, side adjustors on the waist and only a half-lining. All of these serve to create a crisp, light and uncluttered design.

But Reiss is overpriced (this suit is £395). Everyone I know would say the same, men and women. So if you’re going to get a suit from there I recommend waiting until the summer sales, or visiting one of their discount outlets (such as that in Bicester Village).

As to whether to go for Reiss off-the-peg (altered, as you say) or a company like A Suit That Fits, I think the choice is between material and fit. The Reiss suit will never fit as well as one that has been made for you, but I do rate the materials at Reiss more highly. I would put fit above material but I understand why others do not.