Friday, 31 August 2012

How to get great value fully tailored suits....and a free holiday

This post will be targeted at my male readers (though I have been told by female friends that the same applies to females too). 

If you live in a country with relatively high labour costs (e.g. US / UK / Australia etc) the chances are that when it comes to buying suits you typically have the following options
  1. A selection of reasonably priced 'off the rack' suits which are made overseas (typically in Asia);
  2. A selection of highly priced off the rack branded suits (made either locally or in a country like Italy); or
  3. If you are willing to splash out A LOT of money you can get a suit tailored to fit you
Note that this applies whether you are looking for a suit for work, an evening suit or a formal dinner suit / tuxedo. 

Historically I had normally bought a mid-range (i.e. $300 - $400) suit off the rack direct from the importers which saved me a lot of money compared to if I had bought it in store.  The suit quality was decent but not outstanding and I would normally need to get it altered to fit me.

Over the last few years I have started to get my suits tailor made 

I had always thought that getting a tailor made suit was a silly extravagance and could not really understand why people did it.  However when I went to Thailand for the first time on holiday I thought I would get one made to see what all the fuss was about.  I was totally converted.

The cut and fit of a well made suit that is completely tailored to your body cannot be compared to anything you can buy off the rack
  • As a side note I think buying expensive off the rack suits such as an Armani or Zegna is about the dumbest thing you can do.  You are getting a better quality material but the fit, which is the most important thing, is still not designed for your body
You notice the difference once you are wearing a suit that is made for you.  It is neither too lose nor too tight, too short or too long and if you have never worn one before you notice the difference immediately.

The problem with tailored suits is that they are too expensive in high labour cost countries

In countries such as Australia, the cost of getting a suit tailored are unbelievably expensive.  Getting a tailored suit made of ordinary material will cost up a minimum of $1200 and this is typically with a single trouser only. 

Further even at this price you are paying for a pretty ordinary tailor.  For a decent suit with double trousers from a good tailor you're probably paying closer to $3000.

The solution is to fly to Asia to get your suits made - the savings you make will more than pay for your holiday

Flying to Asia only to get your suits made may seem a little extreme but when you go through the maths and the see the quality of the finished product you will see that it works out really well. 

I get my suits made in Thailand at Raja's Fashions which was recommended to be by the CEO of a client I was working for at the time (standard comment re my recommendations: I get no kickback from these guys).  They are actually very expensive by Thai standards.  However the upside is that you can be assured of the quality and the materials they use are outstanding.

For a good material, two trouser suit made by excellent tailors you are paying (after a little haggling) about
$600 per suit.  For fully tailored shirts (which cost ~$150 in Australia) you're paying about $40.  At these prices your trip to Asia is more than paid for:
  • The last time I went I bought 2 suits and 6 shirts for a total cost of ~$1,440
  • In Australia these would have conservatively cost me ~$4,900
  • Resulting in a saving of $3,460
  • This is more than enough to cover the cost of a flight to Asia (as well accommodation for a few weeks)
The best part is how little time it involves in Asia too.  I have had suits tailored in Australia and it typically takes up to 4 weeks for the whole process, including all the fittings etc.  In Asia the whole process took just over 2 days.  This included multiple fittings so the suit fit perfectly and the suit and shirts were delivered to my hotel at the end.

Make sure you get a tailor recommended by someone

The hardest part about buying a suit in Asia is getting a good tailor.  Once you have one recommended I suggest going to them.  There are a lot of fly by night operations and tailors that don't know what they are doing (I was saw a suit made in Vietnam where the tailor used the pinstripe material the wrong way!)

I can personally high recommend Raja's Fashions (ask for Bobby) as they were completely professional, had a great selection and the product was great at the end.  Also like most tailors in Asia, they keep your details on file so that (assuming your size hasn't changed dramatically) you can always call them up and order more suits and shirts which are then mailed to you at home.

You may also like:
Don't pay full price for perfumes, cologne's or aftershaves
Before you buy on Amazon...check out these two great sites
Weekend Warrior: Last minute gift ideas


  1. You're absolutely correct and our company was founded on the premise that a custom fitted suit will always look better than even an altered off-the-rack suit for most men. 7 Regent Lane is one of several online tailors, however ordering online has some risk that the measurements may be a bit off. We counter this problem with a generous remake/alteration policy, but more importantly we can identify likely mis-measurements by doing some detailed comparisons with historical measurement data.

    In any case, definitely go made to measure regardless of where you get it from. If you're inclined to check our products out you can find them here.

    1. I'm a first-year law student about to buy my first suit...and I'm trying to go as plain/classic as possible so that I get my money's worth.I also want to get a cheap but high quality suit.This is the suit I think:
      It's good and less than $350.How about it?

    2. Hi Sissi,

      The suit looks good and the site seems to ask the right ones. The most important things are fabric, cut and quality. It is hard to judge any of those from the website (though they may be really good).

      If your friends or colleagues have used the tailor before and are happy then go for it - however I personally would never want to try and online site with no one's recommendation.

      Also, I know you haven't asked it but with respect to color - if you are only buying one or two suits, a charcoal suit is much more versatile than a black. You can mix and match it with more shirt & tie combinations.

    3. Apologies - I meant to say 'the site asks the right questions'