A few weeks back, I was contacted by Modern Tailor, one of the by now ubiquitous companies offering an online version of made-to-measure clothing at a fraction of what that used to cost. They offered to make me a suit, and asked that I review both the goods and the online order process here. I graciously accepted, and the suit is currently in transit. As for the order process and level of customer service, I have to say, so far, so good.
my rube tendency to order crazy stuff for it's own sake with online custom.
As with any online outfit like this, the measurements are your responsibility. This means that you the customer are being allowed to f*ck things up royally if you don't pay attention. Modern Tailor offers two options, each with a comprehensive guide. You can take body measurements, which I don't recommend unless you know someone who can take these accurately for you. Don't trust your wife/girlfriend. If you use this option, at least have a tailor put the tape to you. Alternatively, they have a guide for taking measurements from your own clothing. This is the option I chose. Using my best fitting trousers and best fitting blazer, I filled in the nearly two dozen measurements. I followed the guide, which is quite explicit, and tweaked a few things here and there using my own judgement. For example, I knocked 1/2 inch off the shoulder measurement of the blazer, given that the shoulders fit a hair large. But that's a trick best used sparingly. If you're not going to be honest about your measurements, why have something made in the first place? This is no place for empty pride.
I opted for flat front pants with cuffs, a single breasted two button coat with side vents and four button surgeon cuffs. I did ask for a few slightly eccentric details; open pockets, and brown buttons with brown stitching on the button holes. About a week later, I received an email from the production staff making sure this was correct, as black buttons are far more conventional on a grey suit, and containing photos of both the black and brown buttons available. After I explained that this was not meant to be a business suit and that I wanted it to have a slightly more casual air, to be worn with brown shoes, they replied that they understood and would proceed. A few days later I received a photo of one of the pockets, partially completed, to be sure this was what I wanted. I must say I was impressed with the individual attention I received, and the questions they asked made me feel that the people asking them knew what they were doing. True, they may have been giving me the royal treatment in hopes of a good review, but I can only hope that this level of attention is the same for all customers.
About two weeks later I was sent an email containing 18 photos of the completed suit (see above), with a measuring tape laid across it to ensure that details and measurements were correct before for shipping. I replied that all looked well, but asked whether they couldn't add a third button in my beloved 3/2 style. I received a prompt reply from the head of production saying that it could be done, but in his opinion it would spoil the overall look of the suit. Appreciating his honesty, I decided to trust his judgement and said to send the suit along.
The whole process from order to shipment took a pinch more than a month, and I'll likely have it later this week. Here's hoping the garment itself justifies my enthusiasm so far.
This whole online made to measure thing isn't real custom tailoring, not even close. There's no personal involvement with the person actually making the garment, and the fit and details can honestly only be tweaked so much from a pre-existing pattern. But it does have some advantages and perks, especially for an average guy with a bit of taste who really need some good, basic suits in his closet. The suit I bought, had I paid for it, would have cost $535 shipped. I got to add a few personal touches, and if all goes well, it will fit just how I like it. Just think of the piece of crap that same money would have bought at a place like H&M or Men's Wearhouse, never mind the headache and general icky feeling I'd get shopping there. Of course, the real decision will be made when the suit arrives, but I'm hopeful.
So far, so good.