My husband is a suit man. Even though his job doesn’t demand it most days.
But finding a good-fitting suit for Big B’s 6’6”, 300+ pound frame isn’t easy.
He’s been down the bespoke road, had a big-and-tall-off-the-rack suit tailored and we even visited a famous tailor in Hong Kong, known for fitting past presidents and celebrities.
The latter is what you’d call “made to measure” — a sort of hybrid between retail rack suits and proper bespoke.
Surprisingly, made-to-measure suits often cost about the same as an off-the-rack number, but they offer significant savings over bespoke tailoring.
If you haven’t heard of Indochino, it’s set to dominate the men’s made-to-measure market in Canada. Now boasting five showrooms in Canada and another five in the U.S., the brand was originally built online and has a loyal customer base.
Because, like Big B, once you go Indochino, you don’t go back.
You can order a suit online. So if you can’t get to a showroom, don’t panic.
When you first hit the Indochino show room floor (we went to Yorkdale), you’ll notice how bright and clean and open the space is — allowing for plenty of browsing without feeling like you’re on top of other customers. Settle in with a complimentary bottled water or hot beverage.
I loved how all of the fabrics were available to touch. Rolling fabric around in my fingers is a must and it’s why I generally don’t do any online shopping for myself. I like to see the gradients, feel the weave and understand a fabric’s weight. Big B has purchased suits from his tailor in Hong Kong, selecting fabric from a computer screen — not nearly as ideal.
There’s also a mannequin showcasing the interior construction of every Indochino blazer. Layers of base fabrics, padding and stitching here and there to create the kind of shape required by today’s modern man. There’s even a horse hair canvas interlining in every jacket.
Most of the suit fabrics that Indochino uses are Australian merino wool. And they’re gorgeous. The beauty of merino, of course, is that it’s not heavy and it’s a temperature-regulating textile (like the sheep’s wool lining of UGG boots), so you’ll never feel too warm or too cool. Merino’s also famous for its antibacterial and sweat-wicking properties, making it a base-layer favourite for snow sport enthusiasts.
You’ll find a few farbrics that are cotton blends, but they seem to be an exception. Big B ordered one greyish wool suit that has a bit of Lycra in it for better movement, as well as a khaki cotton one.
After you select your fabric, you head to a fitting room with your personal stylist who measures you — all of you — to ensure the right fit. There’s even a photo taken against what can only be described as a murder-scene outline on the wall. It helps the production team understand nuances like the slope of the customer’s shoulders. Everything is logged into your personal profile on Indochino’s system using an iPad every step of the way. It’s a convenient way to make one’s way around the store.
Once you’re thoroughly measured, the real fun begins. Now you get to customize your suit like crazy. You can add a monogram to the jacket’s inside pocket. Create an interesting contrast between the felt collar lining and the button stitching. Vent the back of your jacket with one slit or two. Have a faux button hole add more detail to your sleeves. Choose a classic or fashion-forward lining. Pointier lapels? Sure. One pocket flap or two? Add a spare pocket for your cigar while you’re at it.
Suddenly, choosing between double-breasted or single-breasted looks like pretty basic stuff. Oh, and the best part? It’s all free. This endless personalization to make your suit decidedly yours comes built into the cost of your suit.
You pay — and then you wait. And your order goes into the system where it’s tackled by a skilled team in China (come on, now, you didn’t think you could score off-the-rack pricing with made-to-measure customization by having your suit made in Canada, did you?), who crafts every suit, puts it through a 10-step pressing process and then ships it to your home about four to six weeks later.
We loved the care involved when it came to the delivery. On a hanger, packaged so nicely it barely needs another pressing, your suit arrives with as much attention to detail as you experienced in the showroom.
You might find that your suit fits perfectly out of the box (though the sales folk will encourage you to walk around it in for an hour or two before deciding), or you may be like Big B and need some nips and tucks. His blazers needed very little work upon arrival — a lapel edit on one and some lengthened sleeves on the other. His vest was spot on.
Big B’s pants, however, needed an overhaul. The fit wasn’t what he expected, from waist to ankle. Indochino sent them to a local tailor to try and make them work, but no such luck.
And here’s where Indochino starts to look even better: if any part of your suit doesn’t fit the way you want, and a local tailor can’t fix it, back it goes to China. And you get a newly cut piece in another few weeks.
The result is a suit made to your distinct specifications that fits the way you want it to. Big B is thrilled with the outcome.
Let’s talk price. It’s not unusual to visit the Indochino site and find limited-time deals and clearance fabrics. I’m seeing a blazer and matching trousers for as little as $419 on the site right now. There’s even a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale offering up to 70 per cent off using codes BLKFRI or CYBMON (redeem online or by visiting one of Indochino’s showrooms). The bottom line is that you almost never have to pay full price if you have an aversion to that sort of thing. If you don’t see a sale you like, check back every few days because they’re always changing.
Indochino treated Big B to his wool suit for review purposes, but a few days after his fitting, he remained so enamoured by the process that he went online and ordered a second suit on his own dime. It was a summer fabric that had been discontinued and cost only $399 plus tax — far, far less than he would ever pay for an off-the-rack suit at his specialty big and tall shop. And certainly no suit at retail fits him the way this made-to-measure option does.
Best of all, the suits look great. They have a high-end feel with details that are uniquely Big B’s. He’s super chuffed with the outcome and has decided that Indochino offers the best fit-to-value ratio compared to all of his other suit-purchasing experiences.
The major downside is that if you need a suit in the very near future, you’re out of luck at Indochino. Because it really does take four to six weeks for your suit to arrive. And then tack on another week or two for local alterations or, if the garment needs to be re-made, another month or so. Just keep in mind that if you need a suit, like, this weekend, off-the-rack is really your only choice and the fit simply can’t compare to made-to-measure.
If your suit shows up on your doorstep and isn’t quite right, the alterations (while awesome, because free is awesome) present some inconvenience if the showroom isn’t close to your house. We live more than an hour from Yorkdale and there have been a good four visits to get Big B’s Indochino suit fitting like a proverbial glove. But he’d tell you, unequivocally, that it’s been worth it.