Invest In Made-To-Measure Suits & Save
When a lot of guys hear the phrase “custom suit” they have visions of filthy rich fat cats barking orders to their underlings while a team of tailors scurries around getting their measurements for a made-to-measure suit. Or, perhaps they imagine a stuffy old aristocrat being driven into town from his country manor to try on his made-to-measure suit. Maybe they even know someone who took a business trip and came back with a suitcase full of custom suits he had made on a layover.
Like most mythology, these ideas are based on facts, but reality is much different. High quality custom clothing, made with the same cloth, construction and cuts you’ll find on high-end off the rack suits, is available to a much wider range of people than ever before. Unlike getting a high priced designer suit, getting a custom suit, made to measure by a skilled craftsperson, is no longer just for the rich and famous.
A Case for Custom Suits
We’ve all felt it before – the anxiety of spending a bit more money than we’d like on designer clothing. It often goes against our natural instincts to pull the trigger. An internal conflict often arises. I don’t really want to spend this much, you say to yourself, but I want this name in my closet. So why do we do it? We splurge on brand name products for two main reasons: 1) we believe we are paying for better quality and 2) we desire the social elevation associated with owning luxury products. These reasons are important to us. We all want quality and to feel like we’re a part of something exclusive. But the better question to ask is: How can you get a product that satisfies brand-name criteria without breaking the bank and get an even better investment?
In this article, we’re breaking down Black Lapel suits versus some notable designer brands. The purpose is not to push our products on you (though we won’t be upset if it convinces you to give us a try!) but to show you that the menswear space, particularly online, has some great options that are worth exploring.
So what do you get when you go with a Black Lapel
suit vs. an off-the-rack (OTR) designer brand?
- Equal or Better Quality: From fabric quality to construction method, a Black Lapel custom suit can compete with, if not surpass that of an OTR designer suit. A Black Lapel custom suit is made with 100% Australian Merino wool and crafted by master tailors in Shanghai. Yes, we make our clothing in China and most luxury brands do as well. Is poorly made, cheap, clothing produced in China? Sure. But many quality, luxury goods, including suits, are made in China also.
- Personally Designed: Going custom means having control over a dozen different customization options. With an OTR brand, you take what you get.
- Individualized Fit: The most obvious benefit of going custom means owning a suit that’s made for you and only you. With an OTR suit, you are conforming to a predetermined size that’s meant to fit as many people as possible. Since no two bodies are built the same way, this often results in an inferior fit.
- Brand Yourself: Your “swag factor” isn’t determined by the amount of money you spend on clothing, it’s determined by wearing clothing that makes you look and feel your best. There’s nothing wrong with dropping loot on designer-brand clothing, unless you think that doing so will somehow transform you into James Bond. James Bond would be James Bond with or without a Tom Ford suit. Your style should be an expression of your personal brand, not define your personal brand.
How does a made-to-measure company like Black Lapel stack up against some of the best designer brands at 2x-4x the price? Let’s take a look:
How does a made-to-measure company like Black Lapel do what it does?
How do we keep quality high and the price low? Black Lapel represents a smarter way to get a suit. We have streamlined our business to eliminate many costs. Specifically, we have:
- No storefronts: Part of streamlining our business means the entire custom suit experience is available to you online. But if you’re in the New York City Tri-state area and like doing business face-to-face, the custom suit experience is also available in our NYC Showroom located in our headquarters.
- No third party distributors: We don’t wholesale to stores, who would mark up items before selling them to you; we make each suit individually for you and ship it directly to you.
- No designer label markups: With a custom suit, you’re the designer. That means you’re not paying for the name on the label.
Know before you buy
Before your next clothing purchase, go online first and do some exploring. Find brands that stand behind quality products and care about how these products can help you look and feel better; understand their customer service policies and email them to see how they can help you achieve sartorial goals. There are some companies just like ours who are built to give you a lot more bang for your buck and are passionate about making sure that you’re entirely satisfied with what you get. We encourage you to come and see for yourself. So the next time you want some fresh custom clothes, we’ll be waiting.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about clothing, your job, your next date or life in general, we’re happy to talk shop. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What’s the difference between off the rack with alterations and made-to-measure with no custom options for an endomorph body type? None of the pre-set patterns ever seem to fit me properly for either OTR or MTM.
Off-the-rack clothes are made in generic sizes, like small medium and large or built around one measurement like chest circumference. These clothes are produced by the dozen and made to be worn by just about anybody. Made-to-measure clothes are just that: made to your exact measurements. The difference in fit is remarkable.
The clothes you see on this site are made-to-measure, which is why they follow the shapes of the men wearing them. If you’ve got an endomorph body type, your made-to-measure clothes will be made based on a pattern that’s specific to your body measurements. Compare this with off-the-rack clothes which are made for a standard body type and only get larger and smaller. If, for instance, you’ve got narrow shoulders and a broad waist, you’ll have a difficult time finding anything that fits you well off-the-rack. A made-to-measure jacket for you, however, will not be too big in the shoulders or too small in the waist, but contour to your body type. This ability to get clothes made for you and you only is what makes made-to-measure so attractive for the thousands of men who swear by Black Lapel.
Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.
Thank you, Carson. We’re happy to help everyone understand what they’re getting when they go made-to-measure.
I’m skeptical about it being tailord to my body because I’ve had to See a tailor 3 times with the suit actually on me in order to get the right fit. How can you ensure this level to detail with the suit measurements online and and not seeing it actually on my to see how it falls on my body ? That’s my biggest fear. Thank you.
That’s a real concern, Justin. After all, if you buy a suit off the rack and take it to your tailor for alterations, you’re starting at a disadvantage. You’re trying to make a suit that was made for someone else (a fit model hired by the suit maker) into a suit that fits you.
So how can we possibly have made so many great fitting suits for people we’ve never even met in-person (like Colin H. whose 5-star Yelp review says “I doubted that you could get an accurate fit without seeing a tailor in person. My experience with BL totally shattered that preconception.”)? The answer is simple: our process is absolutely nothing like getting a suit in a store.
We start with a detailed set of measurements. It’s not just some generic 42 Regular. We gather information about the shape of your body, your symmetry and your measurements. The measurements aren’t just the simple circumferences, but a set of specifics that help us craft a flawless fit for you.
Then you add a set of photos and our tailors review everything you’ve entered looking for discrepancies. If we notice something off we fix it before cutting any cloth to ensure you get a great fit (like we did for Thant T. who entered some imprecise measurements and, as he said in his 5-star Yelp review we “emailed [him] back to check and make sure the measurements were right bc they looked odd for [his] height weight.”)
And even after the measurements are all in and the clothes are made, perfection isn’t always immediate. That’s why we cover alterations you may need if your clothes need tweaking (like we did for Neil K. who writes, in his 5-star Yelp review, “The jacket needed a slight alteration but they got it taken care of.”). Then we adjust your profile so that your next order doesn’t need alterations.
We’ve got a full team of stylists to help you all along the way to make the whole process, while rigorous on our side, smooth and easy on your side. That’s how we’ve earned our reputation for our “easy process, fantastic product, and the best service.”
Is your half canvas suit has the canvassing fused to the jacket or free floating?
Actually Sam, the canvassing itself is never fused. In both our half canvas and full canvas (Savoy line) suits, the canvassing is floating and designed to shift with your body. Fusible, which is a separate layer, is however, employed in our half canvas suits and is a very thin layer that is fused to the shell fabric (the exterior wool) of the suit.
Are your suits fused, half canvas, or full canvas?
Thanks for the question, Cade! Our suits come half-canvassed with full-canvas available in our Savoy Line Suits only.
im so happy to have found you guys, now I can order 5 awesome well tailored suits for the price of one of the higher end ones. Once I get my finances together, you guys will see me ordering at least once a month
We’re ready for you, Sylvan. Drop us a line when you’re ready to stock up your wardrobe.
I definitely have to get my first navy suit from you guys. I’m slowly starting to build my wardrobe as transition out of the military seems close, yet very bright. My civilian field would have me in business attire, so starting now will allow me to build on a budget, instead of last minute pandemonium, which ironically is my field…emergency mgt not contracting.
Going to the tailor was fun, but having to spin her up on the more modern look was interesting, though she did show her limitations. And she seemed the more experience out of the few others in town. This town doesn’t have any decent tailors for OTR suits. Gosh I miss the city. I ordered best to my fit with advice/articles from you guys and GQ, but it just didn’t fit right.
Now all I need to do is just throw out 85% of the clothes in my closet so I can convince the wife that it’s about that time I continually look as good as her and the kids when we go out, and not just on specific occasions.
I whole heartedly believe you fellas are onto something here with the customization at a more than agreeable price for the quality and options you provide. If not my next navy suit, I’ll just make sure that my very next suit will come from you guys.
As far as brand name, I’d rather wear a solid looking, well crafted, form fitting, no cutting corners to fit most suit and still tell somebody it was a “Black Lapel customized”. I’m past the over the top brand names that think their names justify their prices, I’m not the 1% and thank goodness. Last time I checked, historical names are only remembered for their amazing accomplishments. Getting a custom suit fitted beyond the ordinary to your one of a kind body is downright a historical moment for style.
Thanks for showing the love, Jeremy. It’s good to hear you’re building that wardrobe right. We’ll be with you all the way. When you’re ready for that navy suit, you know we’ll suit you up right!
Where are your suits made?
Black Lapel suits are handmade by our team of tailors in Shanghai.
A few years ago I was doing an unpaid internship which required me to wear a suit. Naturally I was running a fairly tight budget but I still neede to look good in my suits, so i would by OTR suits which might be a little to big for me, but then take them to my tailor to alter the suit so it was a perfect fit! If, like me, you don’t have much money to spend this is a great option, and the fit will be perfect
Kudos to you, James, for prioritizing looking good in your suits. When you dress better, you feel better and when you feel better you do better.
Allow us to make the case for custom even on a budget: While a portion of men can get a decent fit off-the-rack, most guys will need a good deal of tailoring to get a good fit. Erring on the side of too big can make that tailoring job quite expensive because saving a suit with shoulders that are too big is a nearly impossible job. The next thing you know, you’re paying your tailor all the money you saved on that “deal” that you got on a suit off-the-rack and all you’re left with is a suit that’s been hacked up six ways from Sunday and still doesn’t fit perfectly. Meanwhile you could have had a custom suit for the same amount of money.
Don’t get us wrong, we understand the financial considerations of unpaid interns (just about everybody at Black Lapel was one at some point), but considering that a suit is an investment in your long-term wardrobe, not fast fashion, saving up for one that fits you perfectly and looks great may be more fiscally sound.
I don’t know who hired you to respond to comments, but you’re like a PR magician. I almost want to buy a black lapel suit just to complain about it, so you can deftly charm me into buying another one.
Ha! We’ve been complemented before but never on the deftness of our charm. Well played, sir.
Black Lapel, your response to PEPPERR’s comment is “Fair Point.” Is Black Lapel implying, or admitting, that their construction quality comparison in this article is misleading or inaccurate? I would hope that the comparison is 100% accurate. If not, this is concerning and makes me question the integrity of this business.
On another note, the second to last paragraph begins with improper grammar. Black Lapel writes, “Many of you might of had.” It should read “Many of you might have had.”
Thanks the the heads up on the typo. We’ve made the correction.
As for the chart, we realize that many Canali suits are full-canvassed, which is why we originally replied to Pepperr’s comment by stating that it was a “fair point.” Still, the suit we are referring to in the chart above is indeed half-canvassed and, at the time of publication, was priced at $1,800 (see this link for details: http://www.mrporter.com/product/316040). We appreciate the fact check but rest assured, the comparison is appropriate!
A garment from Canali that runs for $1800 will be fully canvassed.
Fair point Pepperr. FYI, we provide full canvas upgrades on all of our suits for an extra $200. Even with the upgrade, a custom suit from us would still be over $1000 cheaper than a Canali. 😉
The key to having the best look is not (all the time) wearing expensive clothes but wearing an expensive-looking set.
I think this article sums up the whole concept. It is not, all the time, having designer brands. True enough that one should aim for equal and better quality, the best combination (which only you can visualize), the best fit (by personally customizing), and a look that’s exactly you. You just need the eye and practicality to do this.
So before you, the readers, start to think that designer brands are more superior, think again. The best fit always comes from your specification and not theirs. Nice post, btw!
Hear hear Jao! Well put and thanks for the kudos!
Had my doubts with you guys earlier if I had to give you my business. Did some online blog research but still not convinced but eventually pulled the trigger anyways and crossed my fingers. First suit arrived… flawless . Needless to say you guys deserved every penny I’ve spent.
Anton, we’re beyond flattered you took the time to write this review! Thank you so much for the kind words. We hope to continue exceeding your expectations! 😉
Fit is the king, without no double. There is too many factors determine a quality of suit. It is not the most important factor whether the suit is made in China or Italy, made with full canvas or half canvas. It is all depends on the process of making a suit. Most of all, it is the time and care spending on eliminate the defects while achieve the best fit. Chinese tailors certainly have the technique, but the time and care is not there. Regardless modern technology vs. traditional craftsmanship, I have to praise founders of black lapel for bringing this level of quality at such affordable price. I admire their entrepreneurship.
We really appreciate the sentiments Neo! We’re constantly working on improving and will aim to keep on earning and deserving your praise and admiration! 🙂
James bond suits are always a dream wear for any gentleman. Thanks for the share.
Of course, Black Lapel is the best online!
Thanks Youssef! We’re flattered! Let us know if you ever have any questions about our suits!
I loved the e-mail that led me here. I just thought to myself “yup, these guys are doing it right.” Love the suits!
Thanks Jim! That means a lot!
One thing that should always be taken into consideration is that a WELL-FITTING suit trumps an expensive suit – any day.
Absolutely! “Fit is King!”