|WW Chan jacket, courtesy of The Armoury|
As an expat Brit living in Hong Kong, I like to think have a keen eye for style and fashion but surprisingly had never thought about going bespoke until I got married last year. My first attempt was in fact my wedding suit made by the same person who made the dress for my wife, and whilst I thought it was great at the time, on reflection, I definitely got what I paid for (approx £120 for a 3 piece) in terms of quality and cut.
So now I’m looking to ‘upgrade’ for an upcoming event (and beyond) and I have a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering...
Having read countless online forums, everyone seems to have their favourite HK tailors from the low end to the very high. The few ‘expensive’ ones (WW Chan, Gordon Yao, A Man Hin Cheong etc) seem to get a lot of good press but their prices seem a little steep for the jump I want to make, especially for the branded cloths I am keen to try. Is there a hugely noticeable quality between the ‘branded’ cloths such as Zegna, Loro Piana and Dormeuil - rather than the non branded? It seems like they cost upwards of 75-100% more, but am I paying for the name, the quality, or both?
Secondly, if you had the choice of getting something made with a more expensive branded cloth from a mid range priced tailor (such as your HK tailor, E.Italian) or a cheaper non branded cloth from one of the high end tailor (such as WW Chan), which would you choose?
Thirdly – in order to save some money, would it be cheaper to source and buy the cloth myself and would the ‘good’ tailors in Hong Kong allow me to bring my own cloth? Where would you recommend I start looking for cloth – preferably online?
Thank you in advance.
Really pleased you’re making the jump to a great bespoke suit. It sounds like you have a real interest in clothes and will get the most out of the process and final result.
Hong Kong is a fantastic place to do this for the first time, because you have the full range from overnight, cheap jobs such as you have already experienced, to the expensive tailors who approach Savile Row in both cut and quality. In between are the tailors like E.Italian, which I used when I first started out, who will deliver an impressive amount of handwork for around £300 but won’t quite reach the WW Chans of this world on quality, and certainly not on fit.
I would recommend that you go for Chan, Gordon Yao or A Man Cheong, as you seem to be able to afford it if you do not pick the most expensive cloth. It is worth paying that little bit extra for something of great quality, and it sounds like – correct me if I’m wrong – you won’t wear this suit every day so it will last very well. I don’t have any personal experience of any of those tailors, so I’m afraid I can’t help you choose between them. (But if you’re seeing Chan it’s worth popping into The Armoury on Pedder Street – Mark and Ethan will give you some great advice.)
On cloth, it’s not worth paying for Zegna or Loro Piana, particularly on your first suit. Get a good, solid English or Italian mill and something that will last – perhaps a couple of ounces heavier than you might naturally choose in Hong Kong, 11oz at the minimum. Some of the extra you pay for big-brand cloth is that branding, and the rest is innovation and research to get particularly fine or luxurious cloths, which aren’t the point of your first suit.
You can source cloth yourself, but it won’t save much money by the time it’s been flown out to Hong Kong. Most HK tailors will do a CMT job, but I would just bear that in mind for a time when you have access to cloth for some reason (e.g. you’re in London and wandering past the WW Bill basement!).
Finally, my one piece of advice on having suits made in Hong Kong: always say what you think, and insist on style changes that you are sure are right. While the tailors obviously know more than you, there is a tendency to square, boxy jackets and similarly styled trousers that you want to avoid.
I hope this is of some help