Although these companies are primarily located in the United States and Canada, the suits are made in Asia. Owners of these companies say what drives the cost down is low overhead. There’s no store rent to pay, there’s no sales force to employ, and many of the companies work directly with fabric manufacturers.
“A bespoke suit was something that was far more common a few generations ago,” says Karen Chung, president and CEO of online bespoke company 7 Regent Lane . “But there’s demand and interest. Our numbers keep steadily growing.”
The one drawback to the online custom suit market is that it exists mostlyonline. You can look at pictures of different styles, and some companies will send customers swatches of fabric, but with an investment piece of clothing such as a suit, some men are hesitant to pull the sartorial trigger without an opportunity to eye the actual goods first.
Companies such as Toronto-based Suitly Apparel try to make it easy for men to measure themselves with instructional videos, but CEO Matthew Krizsan anticipates that not everyone has a knack for measuring themselves. The company will reimburse customers up to $75 for alterations. Or, they’ll completely remake a suit for no additional charge if the suit isn’t satisfactory.
“Our alteration rate is low, probably around 7 percent,” Krizsan says. “But you have to expect that not everyone is going to be happy.”
Some online-only suitmakers are enticing men to try a custom-made suit by opening pop-up shops. Last month, the online retailer Indochino opened a pop-up shop just off Newbury Street with a tailor on site to take measurements. The idea is that once men have been measured, their sizes will be on record and a new suit can be ordered online any time. The traveling pop-up shop helps Indochino sidestep the expense of opening stores in multiple cities.
Online retailer Arden Reed plans to try a similar approach. The New York-based bespoke suit-maker launched a Kickstarter campaign to build a truck containing a 3-D body scanner. Men step into the truck, they get scanned, and a computer designs a suit for their body. If their Kickstarter campaign is successful, the company plans to have its truck in Boston this summer.
Carlos Solorio, cofounder of Arden Reed , says the truck will give men the chance to see product,and to get a custom suit.
“Whether it’s online or through something like a pop-up store or truck, the expectations are changing,” Solorio says. “The bar has been raised, and more men are aware that custom isn’t completely out of reach. I think it will eventually be the standard.”
Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com.