I've lurked on SF for years and learned an enormous amount. Frankly, you people have been a wonderful resource for both knowledge and procrastination.
That said, I'm now facing a challenge that I thought merited direct input from the sartorial sages that linger in these hallowed digital halls.
The Zegna MTM suits I bought about four years ago have all reached the end of their useful life, leaving me with one RLPL grey windowpane, a tux, a blazer and two sport coats - not enough to get by on when I wear suits at least 4 days/week. My tastes have also changed over the years, so I see this is also an opportunity to migrate towards a more English cut.
So, to replace the basics (navy, charcoal, grey sharkskin, maybe a subtle pinstripe) I'm looking for a source of fully canvassed MTM that can provide something approximating an English cut suit along the lines of Huntsman or Henry Poole* (e.g. a more square, roped shoulder, with good waist suppression, double vents, and a slight flare to the skirt). Given the number of suits I need to replace ASAP (at least 3), I'd like to stay under $2K.
In reading extensively here and elsewhere, I came up with a short list and began visiting shops to discuss what I'm after and see about prices.
The results of my hunt to date are that:
- Although of reasonable quality and terrific price, Samuelsohn MTM is unlikely to be able deliver the shoulder and shape I'm after.
- I got conflicting advice regarding Hickey Freeman MTM. Louis Everard assured me they could provide an English cut at around $1600/$1900 per suit, depending on the fabric.
- A Saks SA suggested attending the upcoming trunk shows for Canali and HF to see if they could accommodate my wishes.
- A very knowledgable SA at Streets of Georgetown (who only stock HF) suggested I probably wouldn't get quite what I was looking for through their program, and steered me instead to speak to Highcliffe Clothiers in Middleburg, VA (not all that accessible without a car).
- Ralph Lauren Black Label MTM can be had for $1900-$2000/suit right now, and lapel width, shoulder padding, waist suppression and button placement can all be changed within certain parameters (some through the specs sent to Caruso; others through the in-house tailor when the garment arrives for final fitting).
Right now I'm leaning heavily towards the RLBL MTM for three reasons:
1 - RLBL off the rack already fit me very well
2 - The MTM is not more expensive than the OTR right now and will allow me to push the overall style in the direction of an English cut
3 - My one RLPL suit (bought on deep discount in London) is of outstanding quality, fits well, and shows almost no signs of wear three years on (despite having some cashmere in the blend). I realize it was probably made by Santandrea and that RLBL will have less handwork, etc., but since RLPL is now also made by Caruso, I am hopeful that the overall standards will remain high, even if it is machine-stitched.
That said, this is a lot of money for me, so I'd appreciate your collective wisdom to help me answer three questions:
1 - Are there other options for MTM in the DC area in my price range and style that I've overlooked? Or even a particularly good option in NYC that might be worth a ride on the Acela?
2 - Can Hickey Freeman deliver the English cut I'm looking for through their MTM program? If so, are there any stand-out purveyors of HF MTM in the DC area that you'd recommend?
3 - How durable are the RLBL base fabrics? My one concern with these suits is that the fabric may not be last long being worn once a week or so.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
* Just to be clear, I am well aware that there is no way I will get exactly the same quality or shape as these two firms provide in an MTM garment. I mention them only to give a sense of the fit and style I'm looking for.