Online Custom Tailoring is Neither Fish nor Fowl
There are a lot of companies out there offering something they call online custom tailoring. As you may know, I was recently approached by Modern Tailor, one of these companies, who graciously offered to make me a suit. They were friendly folk and offered a level of customer service that is sadly lacking in so many places selling any number of things these days, and I remain impressed by that. I give them an "A" for effort. You can read about this in further detail here.
Then the suit arrived.
It came by post while I was out, and I got a ticket on my front door about it. The very next day, all a-twitter (that's how the word twitter is actually supposed to be used...oops, I forgot, I don't like snark) with excitement, I visited the post office. I picked up my package, took it home and opened the box. Much to my dismay, my decision about this suit was made the moment I touched it. Cheap fabric, mediocre construction, and styled like something that came from H&M. Still I wanted to be fair, so I tried it on.
The fit of this thing is nothing short of a disaster. The jacket is too tight, too short, and the button gorge is too high. The pants are almost indescribable: too tight in the seat, a few inches too short, skin tight in the thigh yet too full at the cuff. It's so bad, in fact, that I refuse to post photos of me wearing it. Clearly, given some of the photos I post here, I have very little problem with public embarrassment, but this goes too far. A cheap looking suit that fits terribly.
I had no expectation that this thing would fit like a real piece of custom tailoring, but I at least hoped it would fit close enough to bring in to my own tailor for a tweak. This suit is cut so badly that it will never fit, and the fabric is so cheap that I can't even be bothered. To be fair, I'll even take it on the chin about the fabric for not ordering swatches. Even if I had, this garment is hopeless.
So-Called online custom is neither fish nor fowl.
This is not custom clothing. Custom clothing is an expensive endeavor involving a personal relationship with an actual tailor. Someone who will measure you properly, discern what it is you want, perhaps talk you out of a dumb idea, and then painstakingly create something for you using the wisdom and skill only time can bring. It's expensive, and it should be, because it is an art form practiced well by a very select few people. This online thing leaves too much to the customer, there's too much room for error. There is no room for discussion and advice, let alone wisdom and skill.
This is not even good off the rack clothing. With off the rack clothing, you can do quite well if you only pay attention. You can learn to see quality and work with it. You can learn how to have something altered, and you can look great owning nothing but ready made clothes. With online custom, you get a one off piece of possibly questionable quality which may or may not ever fit you. It's a gamble, and I don't like gambling. For $500 dollars the average man could find a very nice suit in a store. For $500 I could find ten suits in a thrift store with money left over for the alterations. True, I may be presenting an extreme opposite example, but you catch my drift. I would be screaming mad if I paid half a grand for this thing.
If you want fish, see a fishmonger.
If you want chicken, it's frequently on sale for $1.99/lbs at the supermarket.
Custom tailoring is a wonderful thing, but it cannot be faked. If that's what you want, buck up, pay the money and get it done right. I may be jealous of your ability to afford it, but I won't begrudge anyone good taste.
If custom clothing is well out of reach, buck up, make due with what you have, and remember that style doesn't care about money. It will require extra elbow grease, but any bum can dress well. Penury is not an excuse, remember?
Online tailoring is neither of these things, and it cheapens both. It proletarianizes custom tailoring to the point where it loses meaning, and it falsely elevates cheapness to the point where even that loses meaning.
Dammit, I may be ranting, but I think my point is clear.
I would like to thank Modern Tailor for their gracious gift.
Don't ever order a "custom suit" online.