or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Custom suit for father's 60th bday in Iowa
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Custom suit for father's 60th bday in Iowa

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
We'll be celebrating my father's 60th birthday this year. Apparently it's a very significant birthday in asian culture and my mom wants to get something special for him--a great suit he could also wear to my wedding in a few years. He's very short, about 5'0"-5'1", with a long torso and short legs. (typical asian build) His chest is broad enough he wouldn't be able to fit into boys suits that were right for his height. He's also extremely picky about his clothes. Finding things for him (they live in Iowa) has always been a struggle. To me it seems the only way to go is to get a custom made suit for him, but it's difficult as they live in Iowa (about a 3-hr drive from Chicago, though). I'm willing to spend about $2k if that's what it takes. However, since this is a lot of money for me, I want the suit to really be great, not just okay. I'm skeptical of being able to get something good without fittings--this would mean travel to Chicago or perhaps Boston (where I live) or New York (where my sister lives). My mom says my dad won't go for fittings but I think I may try to encourage him---if he doesn't pick out the fabric and discuss the cut in person and get measured/fit in person, I don't see how it could come out well. Apparently he's already expressed a fabric preference. Or are there other options? How many fittings are normally required for a suit? What should I look for when searching for a tailor? Are online/Hong Kong tailors even an option? Do they send fabric swatches? What about off-the-rack clothing? You were all so helpful with my cufflink dilemma, so I'm posting again with new issues... Thanks for any suggestions. L
post #2 of 9
The eminent Hong Kong tailoring firm of W.W. Chan will be visiting Chicago on July 7. I was extremely satisfied with the first suit I got from Chan, and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my next order and my next appointment with Chan in July. You mention a budget limit of $2,000 but also that that's a strain. You should be able to get him an excellent suit from Chan for much less than that.
post #3 of 9
Welcome to the forum. I'd add that to get a "great" fit from a suit is going to require at least two and very well three or more fittings for a first suit. There are services that offer to have you send them measurements and make up a suit for you, but I would not rely on any of them. Many department stores now offer "made-to-measure", but these are generally hit or miss, as the person doing the measuring is often a salesperson who doesn't know a thing about tailoring. Still, one alternative to Chan may be at a Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece tailoring event featuring Martin Greenfield or one of his actual tailors. I'm pretty sure they'd come through Chicago although I don't know about Iowa. Greenfield's based in Brooklyn and I believe that if your father comes to NYC, he could pay a visit to the Brooks flagship at 346 Madison Ave for the appropriate order to be placed. It's an excellent suit at $1100-$1500. All this said, you may be forced to buy fabric through the tailor. Many tailors will not use fabric provided by a customer, so while it might save time for your father to pick out a general style/type of fabric in advance, you may not want to purchase it to provide to a tailor. Hope this helps.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for those replies. Both of those sound like good options--I checked the Brooks Brothers schedule and unfortunately they seem to have already passed through Chicago, but I'll keep it in mind for future reference. For the W.W.Chan suit, how does the fitting process work?
post #5 of 9
Chan suits ordered on the U.S. tours are fundamentally "custom made-to-measure." In other words, they are made to measure, but you can specify details and particulars in a way that you cannot in most factory MTM programs. If your father could visit Chan's shops in Kowloon or Shanghai for multiple fittings, the suits would be truly bespoke. A similar Hong Kong-based outfit that does tours is Hemrajani (MyTailor.com). I have no experience with this firm, but I know that Joe Hemrajani is well thought of by some Forum regulars. Unfortunately, his visit to the Chicago area took place earlier this month. Honestly, with garments ordered in this fashion, you are probably not going to get perfection, at least with your first suit. I had a few minor beefs with my first Chan suit. The sleeves were a bit longer than I wanted (although I can live with them). The sleeve buttons were too widely and slightly irregularly spaced. If I really wanted to be nit-picky, a bit less padding in the shoulders and trifle more waist suppression might have been nice. However, on balance, I found it a very handsome, highly satisfactory garment--one that has elicited compliments from total strangers. Its few shortcomings might have galled me more had I paid $3,000 or thereabouts for it. However, since I paid $830, I am willing to accept a tad less than total perfection...at least on a first order. I am eager to see how the next jacket I ordered turned out.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
I did a search on W.W.Chan and am reading old threads---there's quite a bit of info. I was wondering about tradeoffs--are the Chan suits still better even if you can only have one fitting in the US? Would my dad be better off going to a Chicago-based tailor for multiple fittings, and how much would that increase the price/quality? What about a trip to New York---would it be possible to fit in multiple fittings on a short trip or are there several day delays between fittings?
post #7 of 9
Are Chan suits better with a single fitting? That's hard to say. They usually do pretty well on their first try. We tend to be a very discriminating group so I doubt any tailor could deliver something we'd consider perfect on the first try. Would a Chicago-based tailor increase the price/quality? The price would certainly increase. The quality would depend on the skill of the tailor. I think a reasonable rule of thumb is that a suit with Chan's level of finishing would cost 2-3 times as much if done by a tailor in the US. Could you fit in multiple fittings in a short trip to NYC? Almost certainly not. There are usually weeks or months between fittings. dan
post #8 of 9
I know that there are some very high-grade bespoke tailors in New York, and I am sure that there are some in Chicago as well. I can't speak from experience in this area, but I am sure that those in this forum who are experienced will agree that quality bespoke tailoring customarily takes both time and money. I like Chan because they give you a product that is a quantum jump ahead of the typical $500-$600 department store fused suit for not too much more money. I can't help being a little suspicious of any American-based bespoke tailor that would come close to Chan's prices (or Hemrajani's, for that matter) for the simple reason that wages and cost of living are so much higher in the USA than in China. It would be nice if someone more experienced with US-based custom tailors than I could weigh in to help you. There was a thread in the Ask Andy Forum quite a while back from a felllow who was exploring budget custom tailoring in New York City. He would give periodic reports. However, I doubt if this thread can be retrieved now.
post #9 of 9
Not sure where you are in Iowa - you said Chicago was three hours so you might be in Eastern Iowa. There is a custom tailor that does very good work in Des Moines.  Berardi Custom Tailors 220 Kaleidoscope at the Hub -DSM, IA 515.288.8362 From a website - Berardi Brothers 802 Walnut Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309 (515) 288-8362 Suits: $1,750; topcoats: $3,000; sport coats: $1,250. Medium-shoulder, two-button, American traditional silhouette, nine-to-10-ounce, year-round worsteds preferred. (give them a call for location but I think the address difference is one is giving the suite number in the mall and the other is giving the building address of the mall - I know the Hub is on Walnut in downtown DSM)(Also I think the price might be a little on the high side on the website but I don't recall.) Berardi does a great job. I believe it is a third generation operation or perhaps fourth as I think I saw in the DSM Business Record that one of the sons who is in his twenties returned to learn the business. I am from Iowa and my parents still spend part of the year there most of it though in Boji.  I have had them make a suits for me but it became difficult for me to get to the store for the fittings.  (Their turnaround time isn't bad - I'm the problem as I only get back every three months normally around the holidays which is hard to get into the store or I fly directly to Okoboji which is hours away.)  I have only good things to say about Berardi.  I've also had them do some work for my father but he is very modest, frugal and retired so he rarely buys a suit.  If he does he buys it on sale.  I have offered to pay which makes him insane.  He thinks paying over $200 bucks is highway robbery.  I love Dad but we don't think a like in clothes. I think they also do some work for women. As I recall all their suits are made in house or in Des Moines - they might have a shop outside of the Hub where they do all the cutting and sewing.  Their shirts I think are made elsewhere just because they couldn't compete for cost.  But still an excellent product. The market for custom suits is limited in Des Moines so you will get the royal treatment. I know they will go the extra mile to make you happy. The suit you will get from them will compare with any made in Chicago or New York.  I use ww Chan now - Berardi's work is better and the extra cost is justified. (If I had the time I would use them for all my suits)  They will do what you ask, they might have a slight bent toward an Italian cut, I think the Grandfather came from Naples, Italy I know.  My family's estate attorney in Iowa gets his suits done there and he maintains a very British scholarly look which they create with perfection. Also I a recall the entire family is well short so they should be able to accomodate your Father well. So try them out - at least give them a call.  You should be able to tell a lot by the phone. In the Kaleidoscope at the Hub is also a genteman that shines shoes that is legendary.  I know of a man that brings his shoes from Ohio for him to shine. He is a little independent so if it is a nice day he might be gone fishing but he does a great job. Take Dad for a suit and buy him lunch at the Younkers Tea Room as I understand it might close soon.  It isn't what it was but it they have a piano player it can be nice.  Have a sticky roll or the rarebit burger with a Reese's ice cream sunday - it will be a day Dad will enjoy. Give us a report back on how your experience was if you go ahead.  I should give them some business again and maybe will can drum up business for them.  Stranger things have happened.  A few trips to Budapest have been lauched in search of shoes.  Perhaps we can make Des Moines a destination for suits.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Custom suit for father's 60th bday in Iowa