This review has been a long time coming. I really wanted to make sure I had taken the time to develop a relationship with the shop and a feel for their ability to hone in on style and fit.
I first started using Richard Lim in January of 2009. Since then, I’ve had three jackets commissioned and one pair of trousers. The third jacket is the navy Brisa summer jacket that I’m showing today. This jacket represents the convergence of three goals: 1) Hone in on fit 2) Find the most appropriate construction technique 3) Find a unique stylistic marker to set the jacket apart, subtly (iGent double take).
First off, Richard Lim and his shop High Society do not have a “house style”. This is one of those things that subtly influences their bespoke process and makes it somewhat different than most of the experiences I have read about.
The biggest difference is that there is ZERO push back when it comes to stylistic choices. I’ve never had to fight against a prevailing opinion on how something ought to look. Richard Lim and his staff are more than happy to execute almost any stylistic choice and flair that I can think of.
This does lead to one word of caution. The experience with Richard Lim works best if you already know what you want. Because there is no prevailing house style that they are most comfortable with, it becomes very easy to end up ordering something you may not like stylistically; simply because there are so many options.
Richard and My Cutter Hann With the Finished Jacket
That said, if you have a rough notion of what you’d like, or better yet, an idea of what you really don’t like; they are more than equipped to guide you on the detailed choices and help with every step of the decision process.
There are two prevailing characteristic to every jacket I’ve seen from Richard Lim: the lapel roll is absolutely lovely. It’s the first thing the catches my eye on every piece I’ve been shown. Second is the line the lapel follows from the gorge to the quarters. It’s very X shaped, which leads to tastefully open quarters. Something I really love.
Additionally, a little detail I’ve noticed from jacket to jacket is the subtle creative license Richard Lim takes when interpreting finishing details that were not specifically covered. From what I’ve seen on my jackets and the ones I’ve inspected in the shop, the details really change depending on the fabric used and the overall look of the jacket. At the end of the day, I trust my requests to go through Richard Lim’s sartorial filter and end up better for it.
Standard: The standard construction is fully canvassed, with hand padded chest, collar and lapels. On the jackets, every visible stitch is done by hand. The shoulders are constructed to preference. During my basted try-on, the jacket is a completely natural shoulder. Wadding or padding is added if desired. The summer jacket has a bit of cotton padding in each shoulder.
Optionally, Richard can construct jackets with half canvass construction and fully fused when requested. The lining options also spread the gamut from fully unlined, with all seams lined and taped down, to quarter / half lined, and special requests.
The summer jacket is fully canvassed, self lined in the chest, and piped with the same fabric that lines the arms and finishes the seams. I specifically stated that I wanted to make the jacket as light and airy as possible without using fusing.
Depending on the type of lining you have, it’ll either be felled by hand or machine. My first jacket used a vintage silk lining that was felled by hand. The second was bemberg and that was felled by machine.
All work is done on the premises in a workshop behind the front showroom. It’s truly amazing that they can combine onsite manufacturing with a bespoke process at the prices they charge.
Something to keep in mind:
Every time I’ve walked into Richard's shop, there is always at least one garment hanging for some type of entertainment industry client. The last few times I saw some of the pieces that Prince will / has already worn on stage for his American tour. Other times there are suits ready to be worn on set and during awards show season, even more outfits ready for the red carpet.
What I’m trying to get at is the fact that this shop is VERY used to working with designers. Their whole approach is geared towards the type of client who really wants to get exactly what they’re thinking of. There was zero pushback when I brought in a sketch of what I wanted my second jacket to look like. Most recently, when I walked in with a cardboard lapel shaper, they were more than happy to use it for my next jacket.
More importantly, they will also tell you when they don’t have the experience to pull something off. I have yet to run into this and looking around the shop (they also work with leather and accessories) I can’t imagine where their expertise ends.
How It Started
First shot of the finished product
The pricing is where Richard Lim goes from being a good find to a well kept industry secret. My suspicion is that between the loyal Korean clientele, designers / costume artists, and the rare person who discovers them independently, they really don’t get much (if any) press.
C.M.T for jackets starts at $545 and $250 for trousers. The pricing model reflects the individual needs of clients, thus special requests add to the cost. For example, hand pick stitching will add $25 while hand sewn working button holes will increase the cost about $35.
One fitting is standard. If you need additional fittings factored into the schedule, such as a forward fitting, this also adds to the price (~$35). From my experience, the first fitting is already so dead on; I have never felt I needed another. Additionally, after the jacket is finished, Richard Lim has ALWAYS performed any needed tweaks, at no additional cost. My suspicion is that if you need more fittings before completion, this is what adds to the final price.
The final price for my jacket, with all requested details was $625 + tax. In particular, the lining technique and working button holes added to the cost.
To say that I’m happy with Richard Lim is a profound understatement. Before finding his shop, I considered the $800-900 range fair ground for a really decent jacket. That’s, RTW, mind you; from a place like Facconable where I used to do almost all my shopping. Now I can’t imagine ever paying anywhere near that for RTW, let alone ever wanting to buy off the rack again.
Shots from the front, right and back
Edited by coolal - 12/7/11 at 6:26pm