Where can I import a tailored suit?
November 18, 2010 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I have heard rumors of tailors in NYC who will take your measurements and import you a bespoke suit. Hook me up.

Being the wisp -- 5' 7" and 135 lbs -- that I am, I tend to drown in most off-the-rack suits to the extent that tailoring them would barely help. Unlike guys with the opposite problem, there do not seem to be any exclusively Small And Short men's clothing stores. Finding something nice that fits well seems to be the exception and not the rule and I am sick to death of cobbling together outfits at H&M, who seem to be the only place catering to both my taste and size.

I want a suit that comes as a unit and that doesn't look like I took my grandfather's church clothes out for a walk (I'm looking at you, SYMS.) Unfortunately, most locally-made bespoke suits are way the hell out of my budget. My girlfriend told me there are places that will send your measurements out to a foreign country -- from my previous jobs in fashion, I'm assuming it is India -- and will mail you back a fine suit for a fraction of the cost it would have been to get it made here.

Does anyone have any connections to a place like that? Any reviews? Any places to specifically stay away from? Related scams? Anything would help. Thanks!
posted by griphus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Not exactly what you were talking about, but you could likely find something by looking at trunk sales. Those usually focus on made-to-measure customers, so the tailored thing is taken care of, although it isn't full bespoke.

I also read, quite recently, an article about an upscale suiting retailer who recently opened his first NY location which caters strictly to smaller gentlemen. Can't recall the source of the article, but I have a hunch it was in The New Yorker.
posted by broadway bill at 1:55 PM on November 18, 2010

My Tailor. They come to town for a few days and see clients in a hotel suite. My husband had some shirts made and they were really great. He's super hard to fit so it was really our only option for a nicely made, well-fitting dress shirt. We're about to make another appointment the next time they're in town to get him a jacket made but I know they do suits, too.

They have tons of fabric samples on hand for you to select from and the guy who measures you and does the consultation was really awesome. I think it took about a month for the shirts to be made and shipped from Hon Kong.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

My dad loved traveling to China because he could buy 3 suits, made in 24 hours, bespoke, and for ~$50 USD. They were terrible quality, fell apart, and looked cheap as hell. I think he finally parted with his last one at my mom's request.

I'd imagine any setup through a domestic importer would be similar, plus mark ups. Ask to see a sample first, if possible.
posted by fontophilic at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2010

Go to Alton Lane.

Just got a suit there myself.
posted by dfriedman at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

I recently bought some suits by one such outfit: Maxwells Clothiers. The suits cost around $500-600 and they have packages for getting tailored shirts as well. They have their people come on cross-country tours so you only get a couple of chances each year to get the suits done.

In my case the measurements were taken around September 20 and my suits would have arrived around Christmas time. Because a friend was in Hong Kong (where the suits are made) and was able to pick my clothes up for me I ended up getting them at the end of October and saved a hundred bucks in shipping/duty.

I'm happy with the suits so far, and I have friends who have been doing this for years so they must be reasonably happy with theirs as well.

One thing I will say about doing things this way is that it helps if you have a good idea of what you want because you have to make a lot of choices (fabric, style, fit, number of slits in the back) without having examples you can try on. Apparently once you have been measured, you can even order more clothes online.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:06 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how much better the quality is than H&M, but Uniqlo is the other store mentioned for your frame. I would also look at Zara Men.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2010

If you ever get out to the Left Coast, Jimmy Au's rocks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2010

Sorry, not bespoke, but a suit nonetheless.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2010

Okay, my short friend says that both La Rukico and Hong Kong Jack are good places to go for custom-tailored suits in NYC.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2010

I tend to drown in most off-the-rack suits to the extent that tailoring them would barely help. Unlike guys with the opposite problem, there do not seem to be any exclusively Small And Short men's clothing stores.

What you want is a jacket that fits in the shoulders and is the right length for your torso (I gather that number of buttons on the jacket is also important, but being a lady, I don't entirely understand the significance of that). Everything else can be tailored.

Seconding Uniqlo. I'm not entirely sure they carry full suits for men, but shirts, dress pants, and jackets will fit you better than other places. Lovelovelove Uniqlo for small-ness, especially slim cuts I don't "swim" in.

For something higher end, I believe Paul Smith's SoHo shop has a suiting section with an in-house tailor. Which might be better than buying something at Men's Wearhouse and bringing it to your neighborhood guy. Don't know exactly how it works, but I imagine the guys who work in that section will be able to help you find something that suits your frame and can be tailored to fit properly, because they work closely with that sort of thing.
posted by Sara C. at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2010

otherworldlyglow has it; another option is Raja's. I was fortunate to be able to get into Raja's when I was in Bangkok; hopefully their traveling service is just as good.

Or, if you know any bankers / lawyers, a lot of times the firm will hire someone to come around periodically and you could maybe make an appointment the next time he/she comes around.

And you probably CAN buy a suit off the rack if you can find a competent suit salesperson. If you go into Nordstrom or something to get properly fitted, just remember your measurements when you shopping at other places.
posted by rkent at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2010

If you're looking to stay local, Mohan Tailors in midtown is an institution - a week's worth of custom suits will likely set you back $3k, but you'll be looking *great*.

Alternatively, every made-to-order men's clothing website I've ever seen provides the list of all the measurements they need. You should be able to walk into any good tailor, and get a set of measurements for a nominal price.

Good luck!
posted by swngnmonk at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2010

So first off, you'll be getting a made to measure suit, not a true bespoke suit this way. Which is fine. Just don't confuse the terms when you go to the tailor or store. You should get some idea of the weight and weave of fabric you want before you go in as well as have an idea about the style, e.g., side vents or back, three or two buttons, etc. If you have time, bounce over to Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart (conveniently located side by side on Madison) to get a sense of what you want.

A block away is a shop you might want to check out called The Shirt Store which does made to measure suits (imported) for under a grand. Linky: http://www.justwhiteshirts.com/store/

I haven't bought a suit from them, but I do have several of their bespoke shirts and ready to wear shirts. Their quality and service is excellent.

And I work one block away, so memail me if you're around :)
posted by digitalprimate at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2010

There's a company called Indochino which does made-to-measure custom suits via the internet, so this works in NYC or anywhere else.

(I knew one of the founders in uni and he's a very snappy dresser--I don't wear suits, so that's the only kind of review I can offer!)
posted by equivocator at 4:07 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend and I got suits made up by these guys. They are in Thailand but told us they do regular sales trips overseas, including to NY. They weren't cheap (by Asian standards) but the suits we ended up with are beautifully made from high quality cashmere. I think I ended up paying about AU$500 for a three piece suit + two custom silk shirts. They are very, very professional and I recommend them to everyone.
posted by Wantok at 4:17 PM on November 18, 2010

The store mentioned by Sidhedevil, Jimmy Au's For Men 5-8 And Under, is actually planning a store for Manhattan. He also holds regular "trunk shows" in NYC, with the last one being October 21.

(I have a suit and a pair of pants from Jimmy Au's, perfect fit for my 5'6" self.)
posted by mnemonic at 7:01 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ahh, yes...Au's was the place I was thinking of. I'd also caution against any of the overseas "send us the measurements" guys, as well as the traveling operations. If you can recognize and appreciate a good, high-quality suit, those will almost certainly be a let down. I think your best bets are Au's, one of the few quality retailers like Brooks Brothers, or MTM from a truly quality label (RL and HSM both do mtm trunk sales, and you can get deals). Definitely don't buy a suit from H&M or Uniqlo...not even worth the time to try those on. I would also advise against anything that needs tailoring beyond taking the cuffs up, or some slight slimming; more than that, and you are asking for trouble unless you know and pay for a very skilled and competent tailor.
posted by broadway bill at 11:02 PM on November 18, 2010

Seconding MyTailor. I live in Nashville and saw Nick Chotrani when he came through some time ago. The experience was great, and I got a jacket, suit, and shirt made to my specifications (including a button fly on the suit trousers, hell yes).

From the tour schedule, it looks like you could meet with one of the brothers in charge of the business in a couple of weeks.
posted by ymendel at 11:29 PM on November 18, 2010

I can personally vouch for Thickasthieves. Jason, who I think is the only guy there, tells you how to take your measurements yourself—it's totally possible—helps you choose the fabric, and sends the measurements off to China. A little while later you get a really nice suit in the mail. It still has to be tailored, but mine looks fantastic, and at $480, it won't take much for me to buy another one.
posted by awenner at 7:58 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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