I ordered a suit from Indochino shortly before I started my first office job as a summer student at a law firm. A friend of mine who worked at a bank put me up to it. I blame him for this.
It wasn’t my first suit, but I was still quite green in the #menswear game at the time, and obviously a little naive. At the time I was probably the target Indochino market: a young man raised by GQ to know that “fit”, thin lapels, and “bespoke features” like novelty liners and surgeon’s cuffs are important - yet not savvy enough to understand the importance of construction or quality textiles.
After dutifully measuring each other according to Indochino’s online instructions we each ordered a suit. If memory serves me correct my colleague went with a navy two-piece, and I ordered a charcoal three-piece. Our suits were about $400 each.
Neither of our suits fit when they arrived.
The Blogosphere is filled with similar accounts of poorly fitting Indochino suits. In fairness, I’ve also read a handful of Internet postings by customers who were happy with the way their suit fit out of the box.
I sent my suit back, as Indochino invites you to do if the sizing isn’t right, but the fit of the re-made suit wasn’t much better. The jacket fit ok, but the pants remained much too tight. For my money ok isn’t good enough for a jacket that’s supposed to be made to my measurements.
I took the suit to my tailor. I could always count on Radd to shoot straight with me. As a student I was always taking vintage finds or sale items to him that were several sizes too big and asking him to work miracles. Without fail he’d grill me on how much I paid for the garments I brought into his shop, lecture me on their makeup, and then insist the “balance” of the item would be all wrong if he carried out my instructions. Occasionally he’d applaud me on the pieces I brought in for him to work on, but more often than not I’d get a finger wagging for wasting my money.
He was particularly disappointed in me when I brought in this offering from Indochino.
There was nothing he could do about the pants – not enough material to work with he said. The liner he figured wouldn’t last me the summer. Radd routinely works on, and sells, department store quality suits. So when he criticized the makeup of my Indochino suit he wasn’t holding it up against a $1500 suit, he was comparing it to the $500-$600 suits he sells in his shop.
Nevertheless I wore the suit that summer, and even into the following school year – tight pants and all.
I can’t say exactly when I stopped wearing my Indochino suit, but as I dug it out of the back of my closet this week to put it with the rest of my old work clothes going to the Working Gear Clothing Society, I am sure glad I did.
Simply put the suit just looked cheap – and lifeless. These photos don’t do my dissatisfaction justice. From the materials, to the construction, to how it wore – I was never confident in that suit.
The wool itself was probably my biggest complaint. Although advertised as super 120s, the Chinese wool (or wherever it came from), felt greasy and contained imperfections you wouldn’t see in a comparatively priced department store suit.
The stitching holding the liner in place was sloppy, and after one summer of use was already showing signs of wear along the seams.
Although the suit wasn’t stuffed with rigid shoulder pads or an overbearing fused canvas, the drape of the jacket never sat well with me.
In short the Indochino suit has since served as my low-water mark for evaluating quality and value. I can say with authority that if you want to spend $400 on a suit, a department store or outlet mall suit will almost certainly be better put together, and cut from better cloth than one from Indochino.
When you think about it, $400 for a suit isn’t even that cheap. High street suit retailers have sales with such frequency these days that it is not uncommon to see suits regularly priced at much more than $400 available at that price. So from a pragmatic point of view when comparing the quality of an Indochino suit it’s artificial to limit the comparison to other suits regularly priced at $400.
Yes, the Brooks Brothers “346” outlet mall special won’t come with a bright metallic liner, functional button holes on the sleeves or a ticket pocket. But it will last you more than one summer at the office, and taken to a flesh-and-blood tailor will fit you just as well or better than what Indochino has to offer.
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