Thought I’d cough up my experience of South American tailoring to all those who may require or be interested.
All prices below are based on client providing the material.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
1500,00 USD for a 3-piece or two-piece about at present rate.
Two main tailors are Diogenes in Cinelandia and Alberto Marques in Carioca neighbourhood. Diogenes cuts the box-like-black-coffin-like suits for incumbent president Michel Temer (google for those masterpieces…) and other men of dubious repute notably Marinho (head of TV channel Globo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (ex-president) and Aecio Neves (very dodgy politico originally from Minas Gerais). All his suits share the same look – square, boxy, heavy looking and would suit low ranking Mafiosi – hence above client list one could argue.
Alberto Marques is a mature gentleman in his mid-70s now and feedback has been quite negative regarding cut of suit of late – again – R$ 5000,00 for a 2 piece or 3 piece.
Tailoring has died a death in Brazil and hasn’t seen a resurgence as in other countries and can’t see it having one – Sao Paulo they can be more dressy but usually buy off the peg. A shame. Apparently many of the clothes makers in factories use Bolivians – this is kind of significant info for further on in the post.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1400,00 USD for a two-piece
500 USD for a two/three piece (tango style!)
Again, hard to find a tailor in Argentina. There is a chap that operates under the name of ‘Luis Carlo’ from what I remember from last year’s trip, out of a small office, young chap of a different name who’s essentially a salesman and very keen to know what you do for a living before giving a price. Price for a 2-piece was slightly cheaper than Brazil – around 1400,00 USD – and seemed that he would charge for every detail. During consultation a Bolivian chap delivered some suits in a black bin liner. Bolivia again – take note.
Other than that guy, there is the infamous Mancera, who usually cuts for tango dancers. I tried Mancera out for a two-piece panama weave Harrisons' cloth 9 0z and despite instructions I did end up looking like a tango dancer sans dance steps. He’s not really interested in working together – wants the easy ride and the 500 dollars. NB, upon receipt of the suit in another country, the balance was way off and to correct the jacket would have to have been torn apart and rebuilt ($$$$). I gave it to some homeless gentleman in Soho – look out for homeless man in dark navy panama weave 9oz with jacket giving a pregnant silhouhette.
La Paz, Bolivia.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Tailoring alive and well in Bolivia almost, I imagine, like Thailand, Tailors on every corner. I tried out three tailors, beginning with the most famous and most expensive, Sillerico.
Bolivian Tailor 1: Sillerico – Dormueil cloth 9.5 0z.
280 USD 3-piece.
Has been in business for 5 decades and has cut for all the politicos and gangsters. Unfortunately he appears in the shop just to smile and daydream as he’s almost 80 and really isn’t there so to speak. Hence, duties are handed over to the shop staff, female front of house takes notes and a tailor. In summary, asked for diagonal pockets and breast pocket to begin under the lapel at every fitting – didn’t get them and it was too late to turn back the clock. The suit was a veritable sack and took several fittings to get it trimmed back. They also added some awful thread lining which wasn’t asked for and had to be removed. Took a very long time to get it finished. Upon completion had to take it to another tailor (Merlo) to suppress the waist as no matter how many times I asked they simply were unable to do it. NB – the waist-less box cut is the Bolivian standard. Also, the right shoulder has a bump of some sort. The repairs tailor refuses to fix it – too much work – gonna have to take it back to Sillerico – that should be fun.
Also – 5 shirts made at Sillerico
Cost: 70 USD each – 2 pima cotton and 3 poplin.
Tailor mis-measured my collar size so collar was an inch too big, sleeves were like swimming rubber arm-bands, shirt was a sack. I really don’t think the bloody tailor knows how to measure. Oh and monogram was on the right cuff rather than left.
Shirt came back with adjustments. Sleeves still 2.5 cms too long and too wide, waist 2cm/2.5com too wide. But with all the back and forth I was truly burned out with these guys. So, took shirts to ‘repairs’ tailor to fix all the shirts (tailor Merlo). However, again, he drew the line at doing anything with the armholes through which an overloaded open-cargo train could easily chuff it’s way through creating a hump of material across the very upper back – no armhole measurements or at least this Sillerico didn’t bother to take them. I got five of these beauties made. More fool me.
Bolvian Tailor 2: Salazar – Versace cloth 9.5 0z
245,00 USD 3-piece
After the endless nightmare farce of Sillerico, I asked the cloth supplier in La Paz (San Carlos on Rua Commercio) for a recommendation. They recommended Salazar, again a mature gentleman though who still does things himself with some workers.
3-piece again but he can’t do the jacket well – does the pregnant effect so left side of jacket protrudes out horrendously beneath the button. Pointed this out 3 times and just couldn’t make much headway with fixing it. I gave up and took the jacket home, but, like the fool that I am, I was impressed that he at least did what I had asked for at the beginning of the process, diagonal pockets, no belt loops etc etc that I had already given him ANOTHER suit to make with Barbaris glen check cloth. First Salazer suit with Versace cloth at the ‘repair’ tailor (tailor Merlo) who’s refused to take the suit apart to fix it – too much time I believe – but would do some cuts to improve the situ. With second Salazer suit and second fitting at Salazar, same pregnancy problem pointed out to Salazer from the off and pricked his pride by telling him I was having his other jacket fixed with another tailor. The preganancy issue now SEEMS to be addressed. We shall see.
Bolivian Tailor 3: Merlo – Clissold Irish Linen 7.5 0z (Jacket)
110 USD - Jacket
190 USD - 3-piece
Merlo was recommended by a friend of a friend of a friend, and had carried out repairs on the above suits and unfortunately I didn’t know of him before visting the big name Sillerico and the tailor of reasonable repute Salazer. Merlo has clients in France and UK – a good sign. Went to Merlo to repair but after seeing his nice, clean well organized old shop and watch him easily identify the problems with the other suits I ran a test and asked him to make a linen jacket. After the first fitting the jacket was very well balanced – he had done exactly as I had asked and we had already built some kind of relationship due to the repairs he had carried out on Sillerico and Salazar’s work. The waist had a nice suppression and no ‘pregnancy’ issues, we discussed placement of pockets and notches and will be ready this week. Despite the nightmare with two previous tailors, I’m going to the do the risqué crazy thing based on this very good rapport and fitting and I am going to dive in and commission two suits – one tan and one grey pinstripe, taking total made in Bolivia to 5. Crazy to do two more but at least the 3rd tailor seems to know what he’s doing and at 190 USD – well, it’s damn hard to resist especially as these suits have been on the list for quite some time.
Photos to follow.