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$250 fully canvassed, hand stitched, bespoke suit

Doctor Crane

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Now that I've posted my other suit, I feel a little better about posting this one. Allow me to explain a bit first. Last summer I went on a trip to Korea with my mind intent on one thing: getting a fully bespoke suit made for cheap. I had done a little research but in all actuality knew close to nothing about suits when compared to what I know now. I was positive that deals could be had and stories of custom made suits for 200 dollars only fueled my dream. After some research, I figured Hahn's was the best bet as it seemed to have gotten the best reviews. About mid way through my trip, I took a subway ride over to the American sector and strolled through Iteawon, noticing Hahn's prominent location at the very beginning. I figured I'd stop in there last and visit some other tailors first. A smart shopper shops around I figured. I noticed one particular tailor's shop called simply "London" across the street with an official looking car out front and figured why not. (It turns out some Ambassador was having a suit made along with his son who was getting fitted for a blazer for his private school.) The man who greeted me was very friendly and invited me to look about the fabric. I told him right away I was a student with very little money. I noticed a sign that said something to the effect "Complete Suit: $250 Dollars" and declared I wanted that. The tailor told me that the fabric at the level was Korean made only and tried to get me to browse the far superior Italian fabric he had, even showing me some nice Zegna rolls. After awhile of shopping, he commented on the three Italian fabrics I had picked out (all super 140s and beyond) and told me "I'll make you three suits with this material for 1200 dollars. And because you're a student, I'll throw in one custom shirt" And he made sure to tell me that price included a complete three piece suit made with the Zegna cloth. What an idiot I was (forgive me, I didn't know a damn thing about suits at this point) and insisted on two 250 dollar suits made of the Korean Super 110s wool. Like I said, I was on an ignorant quest for a custom made suit at the cheapest possible price. He obliged grudgingly and responded by saying "fully canvassed, stitched with horse hair. Completely made by hand. No glue," and proceeded to show me some other work he did. At the time I had no idea what he was talking about and just nodded yeah yeah. After payment of half the total cost up front, we went to the back and took my first fitting. He took a lot of measurements and barked them to his assistant in Korean who proceeded to right them down in a book. After we finished, he took down what details I wanted; I told him "something British" and little more as I really didn't know or care. (He ended up giving me hacking styled pockets, a ticket pocket as well as surgeon's cuff and double vents although absent is a lapel notch.) He told me to come back tomorrow for another fitting. I did and we went over how it looked. He told me come back the next day in the morning for one last fitting and that evening I could pick it up. The evening I went to pick up my suits, I was informed they were making the final stitches on one of the suits and it was not yet ready. He told me everything was being done by hand so that was the reason for the inconvenience long time. (I now know that three days in an incredibly short time.) Â Looking back on it, I should have slapped myself for my own ignorance. Had I'd known what I know now I could have had some quite stellar suits for an awesome price. Instead I have 2 suits that fit awesome and were a stellar price but made with sub par wool. After having read on this forum the difference between a fused and canvassed suit, I decided to give the test to my two Korean made suits. Sure enough, they were fully canvassed. I'm even quite amazed now about the stitching on the lapels. The tailor at the time had tried to point that out to me and show me how many stitches go into one lapel but I my ignorant self didn't pay any attention. If I ever go back.... Â
 

Tokyo Slim

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Perhaps you could post a picture of you wearing it to see the fit?
 

BGW

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"London" should still have your pattern, no? Why not contact them and order another suit. If your body has not changed substantially, you should be able to have a virtually bespoke suit that fits near perfectly after alterations. Numerous posters here do this with WW Chan, a Hong Kong suitmaker and report good things. Many of them have had success without even receiving an honest fitting, so you are ahead of the game.

If I recall, board member Alias lives in Korea and would likely be more than happy to discuss Korean fabrics with you. I would bet money that there are some fabrics nice enough to make purchasing locally made fabric a more cost effective option than opting for Zegna (the cost of the latter is partially a function of expensive import duties).

For what it is worth, it seems that the more experienced bespoke purchasers here and at askandy.com prize fit and construction above fabric quality (or rather they realize that there are substantial trade-offs in terms of drape and durability that come with some of the more technologically advanced super XXX fabrics). I tend to agree with them.

I might ask for pricing on some upgrades for future suits, such as felt under the collar and horn buttons, and might also consider some stylistic changes such as rolling the lapel to the second button, a bouttoniere button hole, and pick-stitching on the lapels. This is just food for thought and reflects more my subjective preferences than any flaws in the suit.

I second Tokyo Slim's request that you post pictures of the suit on your person.
 

Downtowner

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Wow, $250 for a full canvas bespoke suit with fittings does indeed sound amazing. Could you describe the fabric? I second the vote for pictures of you in the suit, if you would be so kind. How do you compare the quality of the construction of this suit with the $600 one you recently posted (obviously this is full canvas and the other not, as you said, but other comments would also be interesting).

One wonders, if bespoke can be had so cheaply in Asia, what exactly the extra $3000 or so gets you in the US -- it appears some better finishing, for sure, but the incremental cost seems quite steep for a marginal return. Especially with all the comments on WW Chan, for example, and the quality of the construction, what more does one get for going to, say (not to pick on anyone, but just to use names dropped about here from time to time), Centofanti, Raphael, or Darren Beaman (assuming one could do all the fittings in HK), for the extra $2500 or so? Or is it as with most things (e.g., restaurants) -- that 10% extra jump up in quality and attention to detail is what really one really pays up for -- the difference between a fine restaurant and one with 3 michelin stars. Comments?
 

Brian SD

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Wow, $250 for a full canvas bespoke suit with fittings does indeed sound amazing.  Could you describe the fabric?  I second the vote for pictures of you in the suit, if you would be so kind.  How do you compare the quality of the construction of this suit with the $600 one you recently posted (obviously this is full canvas and the other not, as you said, but other comments would also be interesting).  

One wonders, if bespoke can be had so cheaply in Asia, what exactly the extra $3000 or so gets you in the US -- it appears some better finishing, for sure, but the incremental cost seems quite steep for a marginal return.  Especially with all the comments on WW Chan, for example, and the quality of the construction, what more does one get for going to, say (not to pick on anyone, but just to use names dropped about here from time to time), Centofanti, Raphael, or Darren Beaman (assuming one could do all the fittings in HK), for the extra $2500 or so? Or is it as with most things (e.g., restaurants) -- that 10% extra jump up in quality and attention to detail is what really one really pays up for -- the difference between a fine restaurant and one with 3 michelin stars.  Comments?
Firstly, this is a Made-To-Measure suit, not a bespoke.

Secondly, I honestly do not think that there is any reason that a tailor in America is skilled any moreso than a tailor in Asia. I think the market is just priced differently. Skill, I feel, is dependant on work ethic more than anything. Also, a huge chunk of the price of a Savile Row suit or an American custom is the experience of the ordeal, and the feeling of having it done by a more traditionally recognized suitmaker. Not to mention that many high end tailors rent out rediculously expensive lots, and must charge more for their work.
 

shoefan

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I think one major difference is in the cost of living in the two parts of the world. Why are Vass shoes 1/4 the price of London bespoke? Largely because Hungary is still economically less developed, and wages (and the cost of living) are far lower there than in London. Think about a "40 hour" suit. In London, this would probably require say $1000 of labor cost (at $25/hour), plus the materials (a few hundred dollars), plus rent, etc. That's why Darren is cheap at around $2000 for a bespoke suit. Compare that to the far east, where perhaps $2/hour is conceivable. That's $80 of labor (though you probably won't get a 40-hour suit, as quality standards are probably lower). With cheaper materials, a $250 suit is conceivable.

There is also a different business model; the expensive London shops do a low-volume, high-margin business. Vass does much more of a high-volume, lower margin business; the bespoke business piggybacks on their RTW business. This comparison is also relevant when comparing Darren to A&S; the volume of business Darren does is amazing, given he and John Kent are really a 2-man operation (putting aside S. Lachter's bespoke shirt business). He makes far less money per suit than A&S, but does more volume (on a per person basis).
 

Downtowner

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Well, obviously there are tremendous differences in labor costs. But my question was how MUCH of the difference -- for those who have bought the $250, $600, or $800 asian bespoke suits -- is due to lower costs, and how much of it is just due to lower-quality workmanship. The question interests me, because I constantly see posts on this forum and askandy asking "where can I get a mtm suit in NY for less than $1500" etc., and I wonder why people don't just then wait for these asian traveling tailors and pay $250 to $800. Am I missing something fundamental here?
 

FCS

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I doubt 40 hours of labour went into that suit. No pick-stitching on the edge of the lapel, no felting the the undercollar. Check also if the finishing is done by hand or machine. Nonetheless, since it is fully-canvassed, and I also noticed some (hand?) stitching marks on the underlapel, the construction quality is already better than average. Alias should be able to comment more on the details.

Not to mention that many high end tailors rent out rediculously expensive lots, and must charge more for their work.
I think it was Bern who mentioned that he got his first Korean custom suit for $2000, so obviously they have their share of expensive tailors too.
 

bern

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I doubt 40 hours of labour went into that suit. No pick-stitching on the edge of the lapel, no felting the the undercollar.
...

I think it was Bern who mentioned that he got his first Korean custom suit for $2000, so obviously they have their share of expensive tailors too.
I can comment a bit on this: at Hahn's, the construction is a bit better (felting on the collar and I think better stitching overall). Hahn's owner mentioned that it took his employees about 20 man-hours to make one suit. So I'm guessing maybe 15 or so hours in this case.

Except for some shops in Itaewon, suits in korea are not so much of a bargain: in most tailor shops downtown, a bespoke suit would go for 1200-1500$US using the cheapest fabric. Which is reasonable considering the price of ready-made suits in Seoul: in crummy looking shops, they retail generally for 150$-300$US, while ready-made suits in department stores would sell for 400$-1500$US.

Itaewon is a special place.. It's cheap because no-one would buy anything expensive _there_. So they have to lower the price tag or they won't sell anything.

My experience in Seoul so far has been with two tailors: Zenith and Hahn (minimum suit cost: 1500$+ and 450$+ in each case). Zenith makes a nicer-looking jacket with much style. It really stands out. Hahn matches zenith in terms of construction quality, but the jacket is just not as stylish. Small details which makes the difference between: "oh, nice suit." and "wow, is this suit really made in korea??"

bern
 

peter07

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I just went to Hahn's in Itaewon and dropped 350,000 won on a black blazer. He charges more than other tailors but has gotten really good reviews. His suit price for standard material is around 450,000 won, and more if you want better material.

I've also heard good things about a number of tailors, but one rating doesn't a good tailor make. Hahn's had several so I went there.
 

seok

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i've had a few shirts made in Hahn (in my pre-SF days) and recall they fit superbly, had sensible collar choices, overall very competent.
 

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