Several weeks ago I was invited by Indochino to check out their “Traveling Tailor” event. I would go through their measurement and try-on process, be allowed to pick the details of a suit and then receive a comped suit to review.
When I first heard about Indochino a while back, the idea did appeal to me: a custom suit for under $400?! Then, after learning more from others who have tried them and seeing that the process either went really well or not quite so great, I’ll admit to having lost the enthusiasm for trying it.
Let’s be honest: doing anything MTM, especially online, is risky. You might not take your measurements correctly and I’ve rarely had any custom-made item perfect on the first try. And with suits, there’s a lot of variables at play that have to be weighed to make sure you get the correct fit. There’s a reason bespoke suiting takes several fittings and also looks the best.
The “Traveling Tailor” appealed a bit more to me as an idea, if only because it removes the whole process of self-measurement from the equation. This is my largest gripe with online MTM services, because the business has no quality control on the customer’s ability to take correct measurements, and you have no idea as the customer how your measurements will be interpreted.
The “Traveling Tailor” process is simple: a pop-up shop appears in a city, you schedule an appointment and they take measurements and fit you to a suit model. For the first few minutes a salesperson goes through the process of taking a tailor’s tape to your basic measurements and enters them all into an iPod Touch.
After the measurements are entered, I assume the app gives a suggested suit size. You’re then handed a pre-made suit off a rack that corresponds somewhat closely to your measurements and you try it on in a tiny curtained off temporary dressing area.
The app put me originally in a suit size too small. The pants felt like jeggings and the jacket gave me zero movement in my shoulders and arms. The second suit fit a bit better, going one size up.
From there, more alterations are made. Letting out or taking in hems or cuffs. I had them adjust for the excess fabric along the back of my shoulders. You get a close approximation of how it’s going to turn out, but it’s hard to be entirely sure.
After measurements are done, you’re taken to check out fabrics and styles. Entire sheets of the various fabrics are draped on displays so you can feel them and get an idea of what they look like visually over a large area — no tiny swatch books here. Same went for linings, which looked more like flags on a pole.
They had lots of forms setup, too, with various jackets styled on them with all sorts of colorful combinations and details to show off what’s possible. And they really do have quite a bit of options available. You can pick types of pockets, stitching, contrasting threads, surgeon cuffs, interior pockets, etc.
In the end, I kept it really basic: dark charcoal, single-breasted, two-button, notch lapels, no surgeon cuffs w/ kissing buttons, jetted pockets, navy lining, double-vented.
Overall, the experience is nice. I didn’t feel particularly rushed and you can definitely take your time picking the different design details. Being rather conservative, I opted to not take advantage of stuff like ticket pockets or flashy linings. I think it’s easy to get carried away with options like that and wanted to see how a basic charcoal suit would be executed by them.
Then, the wait. A few weeks later, this box appeared:
The suit came a bit beat up. It was wrinkled and definitely needed a pressing — so badly that one of the lapels had a very significant crease in it. Also, it didn’t come with a hangar, so you’ll need to provide you own suit hanger. These might be little things, but I’ve yet to buy a jacket or suit online that didn’t ship with at least a plastic hangar with wide ends for shoulder support.
Shipping methods aside, I’m primarily concerned with fit. Here’s the overall shot:
If I’d received this suit maybe a year or two ago, I’d probably be OK with the fit. It certainly doesn’t look terrible or extremely poor fitting, however, it’s not something I would wear right now. There’s multiple reasons, which I’ll detail, that will likely keep this in the closet for me.
First, the jacket (you can see the creasing from shipping as I lightened the photo a bit here):
I’m OK with the overall length and even with the sleeves and where they landed. They actually nailed that part (I prefer to show 0.75” to 1” of cuff). However, the most crucial part that needed to be perfect is really quite off: the shoulders.
Indochino’s suit has a lot of shoulder padding. They could remove half of its thickness and do much better. I don’t exactly have “built” shoulders (as I don’t hit the gym at all) and am actually quite boney, but the padding is so big that it makes it appear I’m wearing football pads and almost squares off my shoulders.
Additionally, the shoulder width is about 0.5” too wide on each side and the shoulder padding doesn’t help this at all. In fact, the shoulder padding makes it worse and produces divots.
Even with Indochino’s $75 alterations credit, this isn’t something a tailor could alter and fix cheaply. Altering to narrow the shoulders on a jacket is something I’ve done once and it turned out badly and was expensive. Plus, there’s still the issue of shoulder padding, which would need to be replaced — and that would probably negatively affect the balance of the jacket, too. Frankly, doing such alterations isn’t worth my tailor’s time or the money.
Which is a shame, as I’m not against the jacket besides these facts. Sure, the lapels are narrower than I’d like on a suit, but if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s fine. The button stance is higher, but I’ve got higher button stances on several jackets I own, too. For me, the jacket’s wearable if it weren’t for the shoulders.
As for the trousers:
The trousers have a really, really low rise on them. Lower than any trousers I’ve owned, even from J.Crew. I asked during the measurement process if a higher rise was possible and I was basically told it wasn’t.
The trousers are definitely trim. They actually were a bit long on the hem, but that’s because I told them to make them a bit longer. If I were to get these altered, I’d take up the hem about 0.75” or 1”.
The pants definitely feel a bit tight. If you have larger thighs, I could see this being a bit problematic in combination with the lowered rise.
They’re not unwearable though, especially if you’re used to a lower rise on trousers and skinnier. For me, they’re kind of pushing their slim-fitting abilities on my upper leg area and get a bit tight when sitting.
So, what’s my overall verdict on Indochino?
I don’t think I could recommend them to someone in most cases.
For their introductory $380 base price, it’d be an OK idea if you’re on a tight budget and have weird measurements that prevent you from buying from other off-the-rack places. Otherwise, I’d suggest going with the many other off-the-rack options out there in the same price range.
I should point out that this suit didn’t work out for me mainly because of the shoulders of the jacket. If that’d worked out, I’d have a more-positive review. I could probably wear this suit out in public and most people wouldn’t call me poorly dressed. But I’m a very picky person who notices stuff like overly-padded shoulders and not a fan of low rises. And if I’m not 100% comfortable about details like that, then I tend to just not wear the item.
There are definitely others who have had their suits work for them. If you’re considering Indochino — or simply want several other takes on them — consider spending time at Indochino Review, StyleForum, Ask Andy About Clothes and Put This On. And I’d definitely be on the lookout for Jeffrey Diduch’s Indochino review, as he’ll probably have a very good explanation about the suit’s quality and construction.
Of course, if you wish to try out the “Traveling Tailor” yourself, they’ll next be in San Francisco from September 18th to 23rd and will likely have other cities on their tour list soon.
Great post on navy sport coats and blazers. However, you forgot the Indochino Navy Blazer (http://www.indochino.com/product/The-Navy-Blazer). Although the price is listed at $250, I purchased one last year for $200 by using a promotion code. The fit is amazing because it is custom made. You can also choose to have functional sleeve buttonholes or not. I choose Indochino because I had difficulty finding a navy blazer in a 36S. The blazer, however, is a lightweight wool blend. If you need alterations, Indochino will credit you up to $75.
Keep up the good work.
Quite a few sales going on right now for those of you with some leftover post-holiday cash to spend. Some of these sales are actually fairly significant.
Nordstrom semi-annual sale:
Select Allen Edmonds shoes are on sale for 33-percent off, like the Park Ridge oxford pictured above for $210. Also, their Nordstrom-branded dress shirts, like the John W. Nordstrom Trim Fit Egyptian Cotton Dress Shirt, are on sale for 33-percent off. Click here to see all their sale items. Not entirely sure when the sale ends.
Brooks Brothers semi-annual sale:
Get two free dress shirts with any suit, using code BOXINGDAY.
Lands’ End and Lands’ End Canvas winter sale:
Various items on sale (Canvas items here). This blackwatch silk necktie is on sale for $30. And this sporting blazer with suede patches, storm collar and surgeon cuffs is $75. Plus, free shipping for purchases over $50, using promo code DEC27 with PIN 4492.
Howard Yount winter sale:
Bunches of pants, suits, neckties, scarfs, socks and more all on sale. Quantities, however, do seem limited.