Broke and Bespoke

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Indochino Suit Review

I suspect that Indochino is one of the most reviewed online suiting companies that exists today. One would think that the abundance of reviews would definitively settle the matter on whether or not Indochino represents a good option for someone looking to order a made-to-measure (MTM) suit online, and to do so at a price point that is not prohibitively expensive. But that’s far from the case…

Instead, the preponderance of Indochino reviews has muddied the waters of decision making to the point where I can see many people throwing up their arms and exhaling a huge “f%@k it…” before hitting the refresh button on their tumblr dashboard, and wasting another few hours looking at pictures of sprezzy dudes and eating Cheetos in sweats. Or such is the case among one very tiny sector of the market of men (and some women) who read online menswear fora and blogs looking for a rudder in a turbulent sea of competing and contradictory information about suit purchasing. It’s to these people that I speak, and admittedly not from a vantage point of expertise about the ins-and-outs of tailoring. For that, Jeffrey Diduch’s fair review of Indochino over at his blog tuttofattoamano is a must-read. Instead, I’m going to offer my thoughts on Indochino’s suiting more generally, and speak to the reality of what it offers, and how that—in my mind at least—fits into the larger scheme of men’s suiting, from the uber-cheap to the more expensive.

I do this because I suspect Indochino is doing very well as a company, and the vast majority of people who order suits from them are quite happy with the outcome, and are blissfully unaware that the absence of the overweening anality that characterizes internet menswear culture in their own shopping habits is a blessing that allows them to buy a suit and be done with it. Others aren’t so lucky, and I suppose this review is for them.

Reviews of Indochino suiting have been building up online for years now, and the quality of their wares has, to my knowledge, significantly improved since some of those early reviews went live. Complaints about suits as stiff as boards fabricated out of gross feeling synthetic fabrics seem to me to be the stuff of yore. When I visited Indochino’s Traveling Tailor set-up when it was in San Francisco I was impressed by the wide array of nice woolen fabrics (they claim much of it comes from the best mills in Europe and Asia) from soft worsteds to fairly heavy tweeds, and quite taken with the ‘live’ feel of many of the garments on exhibit. They were neither stiff, nor synthetic feeling.

Though I’ve not handled any of the older and much maligned Indochino suits from the aughts, I do remember well seeing photos on StyleForum of members’ Indochino suits circa 2007-2008 and being rather unimpressed. I feel fairly confident that we can now dispense with the residual sentiment that anything they make is of bad taste, poor quality, and so on. In contrast, the suit I received from them was quite nice. Think about how much men’s style has evolved in the years since 2007…I believe Indochino has kept pace with that evolution quite well and now offers a product that, although it must have wider appeal than speaking just to the dedicated internet menswear enthusiast, can satisfy the suiting needs of many people looking for a solid, well-made and affordable suit.

Admittedly, it is reassuring to know that if you are measured at one of their traveling tailor events it is being carried out in a way that can be effectively communicated to their tailors in their production facilities. From what I gather, miscommunicated measurements used to be a real issue for Indochino but the expansion of the traveling tailor wing of their business bodes well for potential customers. I can’t really speak to how they’ve refined the process of self or home measurement, but their customer satisfaction guarantee makes it a pretty safe, if not wholly painless, venture. Some mistakes can be made, however, even when getting measured at the traveling tailor events.

I ordered a 3 piece double breasted suit in a nice navy birdseye wool, and when the suit arrived the vest was too tight around the waist. Indochino does offer a $75 alterations credit, but it must be used within 30 days of receipt of the suit, which I had surpassed by the time I’d gotten around to bringing the suit in to my tailor. I was happy to pay the actual cost of alterations as Indochino had very graciously provided the suit for review without charge, but paying customers should be aware of the limited time frame of the alterations credit. If the alterations necessary are so substantial that a remake is necessary, I am told that Indochino is quite good about remaking a suit quibble-free to make sure the customer is ultimately happy with their purchase, and will hopefully return for their next suit purchase.

The suit arrived less than a month after I’d ordered it (well within the 35 days they state on their website) in a large cardboard box, smartly packaged to avoid wrinkling in transit as much as possible. The packing method worked quite well as the suit needed no pressing before it could be worn. I was very impressed by how well the jacket fit when it arrived (it is a bit tighter than I would like in the pictures above, but that’s my own fault for gaining some weight since taking delivery of the suit—imagine it fitting on a me that’s about 6-8 lbs lighter), and was particularly surprised by how soft it felt in the chest area.  There is some shoulder padding there, but it is neither stiff nor too obtrusive. The jacket had a slimming look to it, but was still comfortable for doing a whole range of motions including lifting a burger to my mouth from a seated position.

The pants fit very well in the seat, waist, and inseam (they are a little tighter looking than I would like in the pics above, but again, that’s my own fault for being heavier now than when I ordered the suit, likely because of the overzealous repetition of lifting a burger to my mouth from a seated position), and I chose the option of foregoing belt loops in favor of side tabs. The Indochino suit pant’s cut is a little wide from the knee down for my tastes—though this is admittedly no fault of Indochino’s, it’s just a matter of personal preference. It was quite easy for me to have my tailor taper the pants a bit from the knee down. The jacket was also a little short for my own tastes (I would have liked an extra inch of length in the jacket, as well as an extra inch in the vents), but it is, as Jeffrey Diduch pointed out, a fashion-forward cut. It still clocks in a little longer than some of the even more fashion-ey offerings from the Italian brands that are quite the rage in #menswear these days though.

The stitching and construction throughout appears quite even and clean. Indochino was offering some pretty cool all-silk linings when they were in San Francisco for their traveling tailor event, and so I chose a nice navy and yellow zig-zag patterned lining. It feels much nicer—both when worn and to the hand when touched—than suits that are of comparable price in mall stores and department stores. And here is where I think the surfeit of negative Indochino reviews online can potentially lead people astray.

Too often the Indochino review comes down hard on the product because it does not meet a particular standard of the reviewer’s, but that standard is usually one that is placed too high for a garment that is priced like Indochino’s is. If you read menswear blogs all day and are disappointed when your Indochino suit doesn’t fit as well as the Isaia suit you tried on at your local Neiman Marcus, that’s not Indochino’s fault.

Being able to buy a suit that is cut and sewn pretty close to your body’s measurements, and on which you can choose your own details regarding lapel style, button configuration, vent and pocket style, lining, etc., and all for $429 with free shipping is a proposition that I would not necessarily expect that much from. But the suit I received from Indochino far surpassed my expectations and is now happily my go-to navy double breasted suit. And that’s key. If you’re used to wearing higher-end suiting and think Indochino is going to deliver something comparable to Canali, PRL, or Samuelsohn, and for one-half to one-third the price, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you’re a person of modest means, and you want a serviceable suit that will make you look better than you feel (especially with regard to your non-baller status, because then you’d be wearing Kiton and Attolini…), then I think Indochino is a solid option. As an additional note, I think this is especially true if you are of a body type that off-the-rack suiting doesn’t fit that well, be you overly-thin or overweight.

Overall, I’d say that if you’re looking for a new suit, your budget is under $500, and you’re willing to make a trip to the tailor if necessary to hammer out some little details to ensure your suit will fit you properly (for which Indochino will foot the bill), then Indochino is a very good value.   

 

   

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