Many websites offer you a Custom Suit online, which by definition is a contradiction in terms. “Custom” implies human interaction and an online experience is limited by its very nature to be contained between man and machine.
Understanding your clients’ expectations plays a large role in making a great suit fit successfully.
What does the customer expect in terms of fit? Since each of us understands what fits our bodies best, it is important to learn from the client what they deem as too tight and what they feel as comfortable. For example, some clients would like the jacket more spacious at the armhole while others prefer a close and snug fit. Some people like a sleeve to be longer than the traditional sleeve and will not accept a shorter sleeve.
It is also normal to expect that each person has some areas on their body, that they would like to emphasize and some not as much, in such a case, a dialogue has to happen to know what will and will not be emphasized for this client, so that this is duly incorporated into the fit. Bypassing this step defeats the very purpose of making a custom suit.
Body type and posture is very important to the person who makes your paper pattern. A good tailor notices a slight bending forward of the torso and adjusts the paper pattern so that your suit hangs in a straight line at the hem and is not raised at the back. So too, a large chest needs a different treatment than a normal chest. A tailor notices the abdomen and hips and arms and legs and makes notes of these points.
Fabrics are best seen in daylight. The human eye best appreciates the nuances in the fabric when a swatch is looked at and touched. In a normal store interaction, a customer looks at about 50 fabrics before shortlisting about 5 and then choosing the best. Online, each monitor distorts colour in a unique manner, while texture and softness cannot even be addressed on this platform. So what are you really choosing?
In the store scenario, usually an experienced tailor shows you the fabrics and automatically discards fabrics that will not go with your need for a specific colour and your skin tone and will generally advise you on the best options within your budget. This creates best bang for your buck.
Bottom Line: What you see is what you get.
Measurements: Understandably, online retailers cannot address the expectations of their client or detail the body type and leave you no option but to choose a fabric that may not be the best option but the heart of a Custom suit lies in the measurements and asking a person to have a friend measure them is pushing your strategy bordering on luck. We do go to the dentist or bring in an electrician. Think of the fact that these measurements are not going to be accurate in all the areas and then add to it the fact that the cutter has no clue as to what you (the client) considers too tight or too loose and this is a recipe for an unsatisfactory suit. In the event that the fit is satisfactory due to measurements, the retailer cannot be at fault as it was the client who supplied the measurements.
To recap, you did not speak to anyone and no one took the time to understand your point of view. You chose the most important component –the fabric – without holding a swatch in your hand on a monitor that depended on a server that depended on a camera that depended on ambient lighting. Since you provided them with the measurements, it is now your responsibility
Talk about the cards being stacked against you.
Now, assume that you went through the process and made a payment and received your suit.
What happens when you need to get some alterations done? Who pays for those?
What happens of the alterations do not help. Will they remake your suit? Who decides if it needs to be remade?
What if you had a deadline – like a wedding?
Who pays for the shipping and customs and paperwork. Even free shipping needs you to repack and have a courier pick it up.
As a Custom Tailor, my most important obligation is to understand what my client needs in that suit.
We sit and talk, I take notes and draw and then I have them wear a few suits to determine what they feel comfortable with both in terms of looseness and in terms of snugness. Is my client losing weight or gaining weight? Has he just started a workout routine or a diet? We ask and we probe.
I weigh the client, check them for uneven shoulder slopes, arm length of each arm, and consider wristwatches.
We discuss which colour tone suits his body colour and what does not. We choose the fabric together and possibly have a friend or spouse weigh in. That helps the client make a wise choice.
If the fit still has an element which needs to be adjusted, we do the exercise not the client.
Our job is to give the client 100% satisfaction and in the rare event, we have a major complication, we remake the suit so that our client’s deadline is maintained.