No man should be without a well-tailored suit, or five! And if there is any fine garment worth investing in, it ought to be custom made-to-measure. While a suit bought off the rack may look flawless at a glance, the devil is in the details – those revealing tell-tale signs that differentiate between a machine-made and hand-sewn outfit from the moment you raise your arms, sit or bend.
When it comes to bespoke tailoring, few places in Asia do it quite like Hong Kong. Dreamy as it is, though, a bespoke suit today does not come cheap. Ranging up from HK$8,000 to HK$50,000 and beyond, the hefty price tag involves a painstaking procedure of measurement-taking, construction, cutting, sewing and rounds of fittings and alterations, on top of sourcing top-notch materials from around the world to fit the exact specifications and preferences of each client’s distinct style and personality. So, is commissioning a bespoke suit truly better than buying off the rack? Let’s break down the process:
There is nothing more unflattering than a suit that wears too tight or too loose on the body, which is unfortunately often the case with the ready-made variety. Unlike assistants at retail stores, a trained tailor can tell at glance what type of construction would fit a prospective client, even if they have an unusual body shape. This instinct is then confirmed by thoroughly measuring every inch of the body, from head to toe, for a complete and accurate fit.
Take, for example, 69-year-old family-run establishment Bobby’s Fashions – headed by third-generation brothers Nick and Bobby Daswani. With each order, 30 body measurements and posture images are recorded to ensure the perfect fit for the customer’s shape, requirements and lifestyle. Their services even fill the gap for bespoke suit for women, which is more often than not a nightmare to shop for off the rack.
Accounting for much of a client’s investment when they commission a bespoke suit is the comfort and reassurance that they are getting their money’s worth. Guided by a team of expert consultants, the buyer can experience first-hand the step-by-step bespoke process, of choosing the type of style, high-quality fabric, colour, pattern and accessories they want.
The expert brotherly duo tells us that every single element in their bespoke suits are fully customisable, from fabrics, threads and buttons to collar designs, pocket sizes and positions, and indeed pretty much anything else under the sun. “The workshop stocks over 20,000 fabrics – one of the largest fabric storehouses in the city – from some of the finest mills around the world, including those supplied to luxury brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Dormeuil and Loro Piana,” they reveal.
Construction and detailing
After taking down measurements and picking out the fabric, a canvas for the construction is then made. Contrary to the glued interlining of a mass-produced suit, custom hand-crafted suits are sewn by hand, giving the jacket its structure – forming and sculpting the chest, the shoulders and the clean rolls of the lapels. Details such as hand-sewn buttonholes and lining along the seams and under the lapels of the jacket are also hallmarks of a well-tailored suit.
Take for example, Prestitch Hong Kong, inspired by Italian craftsmanship, the house style of bespoke tailor reflects its specialisation in Florentine and Neapolitan suiting, both of which accentuate the silhouette and offer a comfortable, classic menswear look. Featuring soft, unpadded shoulders on jackets, notched lapels structured with a slightly lowered, curved gorge, and buttonholes are completely hand sewn and finished in fine Milanese style.
Fitting and accessories
The process doesn’t end when the suit is complete though. Next, one to three rounds of fittings with the client occur, with alterations done as needed, to ensure it fits perfectly and the feel is natural. The painstaking process can take from two days to two weeks, and sometimes a month or more, depending on each client’s level of customisation, and the number of orders and staff at each workshop.
But when the curtains are pulled back on the long-awaited final masterpiece, the fun can begin through selecting sumptuous accoutrements to elevate one’s outfit. From cufflinks, ties, pocket squares and more, the addition of custom-made extras make all the difference. Manhattan Bespoke Custom Tailor, which was founded by Michael Lalwani, offers not only a wide range of fabrics, but also exceptional personalised services to their customers. “We have over 200 skilled hands working around the clock to guarantee the unparalleled quality of our hand-cut, hand-made suits,” says operations chief Roger Shaikh. “We guide our customers and help them coordinate clothing combinations– like matching a tie with their shirt or suit – and can customise anything the customer wishes.”
“If the fabric is the skeleton of a suit, craftsmanship would be its soul” – Prestitch HK
Crafting a custom hand-sewn, made-to-order and made-to-measure suit is no easy feat, so the large investment required in terms of money and waiting time are understandable. Some would argue that since bespoke suits are so well made that they last several years, mitigating the initial outlay over time. Certainly, a bespoke suit not only accentuates a man’s physique, but it adds a touch of je ne se quoi to the modish ensemble that is uniquely him.
Thanks to a long lineage of bespoke tradition and expertise, there is no shortage of professional, skilled tailors at your service in Hong Kong. Here are a few of our recommendations:
Address: 3A Carnarvon Road, TST
Contact: (852) 2724 2615
Manhattan Bespoke Custom Tailor
Address: Unit E, G/F, Mercantile House, TST
Contact: (852) 2302 0728
Prestitch Hong Kong
Address: Ivy House, M-1, 18-20 Wyndham St Central
Contact: (852) 2889 0083
Address: Locations vary
Contact: (852) 2523 3663
W.W. Chan & Sons Tailor
Address: Entertainment Building, Central
Contact: (852) 2366 9738 / 2366 2634