Shopping for a suit off the rack is a struggle that most people will unfortunately face at least once in their lives. Finding one that fits well is an impossible task, with jackets invariably being too long or too short, pant legs almost certainly wider than they should be, and armholes always far too low.

 

The problem with mass-produced suits is that they aren’t cut to fit one specific body type well. Manufacturers cannot afford to stress the details — they have to make a handful of styles in great volume and hope that customers of all shapes will purchase them. As a result, the suits are as accommodating as possible so that as many buyers as possible will be able to put the suits on. The decision is not sartorial, but practical. The garments fit well for one type of consumer, and tolerably for every other type.

 

The suit, however, is such an important piece in the wardrobe that tolerably is simply not good enough. The only option other than hunting endlessly for a suit on the rack is ordering a made-to-measure suit. For quite some time, this option was far too expensive and inconvenient for a good number of people. An innovative business model, however, has dismantled those barriers.

 

(gq.com)

(gq.com)

Indochino and Black Lapel are two relatively young companies that have gained a dedicated following in the few years that they have been around. While it took a good deal of time and effort to get fitted for a custom suit in the past — some sticklers even taking trips to Hong Kong or Britain with a fitting in mind — these two businesses provide directions for customers to take their own measurements at home. Once the measurements are entered, Indochino and Black Lapel will craft a suit made of the selected fabric and including the selected details (both of which determine the suit’s final price) — within four to six weeks for Indochino and three to four weeks for Black Lapel, a fitted jacket and pair of pants arrive at the customer’s door. Any person with a measuring tape is now only a few clicks, keystrokes, and weeks away from a proper suit. For those unsure of their measuring skills, both Black Lapel and Indochino have showrooms in New York City where they will be happy to fit customers themselves (though appointments must be made in both cases).

 

In addition, both companies are so confident that their suits will fit that if the garments require alterations, the customer can bring them to a local tailor and any fixes cheaper than $75 dollars are free. For unalterable mistakes, Indochino and Black Lapel offer to remake the entire garment.

 

Black Lapel suits start at just $449 for Super 110s fabric and Indochino suits are $499 at their cheapest (those are in Super 120s). The price and convenience make both companies attractive packages for anyone who has dealt with buying premade suits, and even first-time suit buyers can now look their best for a very reasonable cost, monetary or otherwise.

 

Do you own a made-to-measure suit? Tell me about it here or on Twitter @BillChangNY