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Buying a Suit in Tokyo

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by SeriousBusiness, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. SeriousBusiness

    SeriousBusiness Well-Known Member

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    I will be traveling to Tokyo later this summer. While there I would like to pick up a suit or two.

    I'm graduating University (Accounting) this December and want to get at least one nice suit for interviews, etc. I'm average height, but quite skinny - 28 inch waist. I find that most of the suits available here are too big in general, and I'm hoping that the suits cut for the average Japanese man will fit me better. The jackets I've tried on here will fit me fine in the shoulder but will be too big in the torso area.

    I'm wondering if anyone can suggest any specific stores in Tokyo which I should check out while there. I'm also going to spend a couple days in Osaka if there are any places there worth checking out.

    Ideally, I would be able to pick up one suit relatively cheap at a place like Uniqlo, and then invest in a more expensive, better made suit as well. Ideally, I'd like to get both suits for under $2,000.

    I know many of the big designers have their owns stores in the city. From what I understand, I would be well served getting a Jil Sander, Prada, Dior Homme, D&G, Paul Smith, or Marc Jacobs suit in terms of fit and quality. Is this accurate? I know someone will also mention RLBL since this is StyleForum.

    Any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    I haven't been suit shopping in Tokyo for a while, but you should have a very wide range of choices.
    I hope that some of the Japan residents who frequent this board can chime in.

    Perhaps it's just the Uniqlo stores that I've frequented in Japan, but the ones I've been to haven't stocked suits. Odd jackets, yes. Chino pants, yes. Corduroy pants, yes. Suits, no. However, you should be able to get a nice casual wardrobe very cheaply by visiting Uniqlo. Their linen/cotton jackets are actually excellent value for money, in my opinion (about Y7000, from memory).

    With regard to suits, you'll have an absolute plethora of choices.
    Most of the bigger department stores actually offer made-to-measure programs quite cheaply - you can pick up a reasonable suit for $500 and up. There is also a vast number of stores that sell low- to mid-level suits for men in quite slim, stylish cuts. Quite a few of them offer MTM programs, too.

    The big department stores, such as Isetan, Takashimaya, Mitsukoshi and others, will all have a good selection of suits from various labels, including Prada, Paul Smith, Burberry, Brooks Brothers and other US, European and British manufacturers. Generally, the bigger stores will have a floor for the "classics" such as Brooks, Burberry, J Press and others, and then a floor for the more fashion forward brands such as Prada, D&G and so on.

    Smaller stores such as Ships, Beams and United Arrows all carry great products - slim, well cut, nice fabrics and well made.

    Before you go, see if you can pick up some magazines such as Mens Ex, Leon, Uomo or other Japanese men's fashion magazines, as they will often have advertisements for the sort of stores that you're looking for, as well as pictorials showing samples of products and comparisons between the products from various stores.
     
  3. SeriousBusiness

    SeriousBusiness Well-Known Member

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    Journeyman, you have been an invaluable help. It seems like unlike in Canada, the department stores will be a great place to look.

    Like you said, Uniqlo has a lot of casual clothes so I figure I'll drop in to a few and see if by chance they have suits. I believe the one in Manhattan carries them - which certainly isn't to say that the ones in Japan will.

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  4. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    You may want to visit
    The Suit Company
    Beams
    Ships
    Isetan Men's (for both ready to wear and made to measure)
    Takashimaya Shinjuku Times Square or Nihombashi (for both ready to wear and made to measure)
    Ginza Tailor (for made to measure and bespoke)

    Many made to measure places have clearance sales in August and February -- I used to buy made to measure suits at Big Vision for Y29,000. The better fabrics included Scabal and Dormeil.


    Bic
     
  5. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    Not a huge fan of Uniqlo however it might be worth a visit because if you do see something you like it will be cheap. The quality of their garments is generally poor to mediocre with some exceptions.


    You will definitely be able to find an OTR suit that will be a good fit with some alterations. Japanese suit stores size their suits in 4 different cuts and drops, if I remember correctly, A is slim guy, B is fat guy AB is athletic guy and Y is slim hipped broad shouldered guy. If you are much over six feet tall then you might have some problems, if not you'll be fine. Once you buy your cheaper suit, if it needs sleeve, waist tailoring just take it to any local dept store (not Shinjuku Shibuya Tokyo etc as they are more expensive) almost all of these stores have an alterations kiosk and they all do pretty good inexpensive work as the demand for suits here is so high.

    As for where to buy suits, for your cheaper suit department stores are definitely not a good option they tend to tack 10,000 or 20,000 onto the cheaper lines as compared to the suit stores, so I have a few suggestions;

    1. Check out the Nakano Broadway/Sunshine mall (can't remember which one but they are connected in a straight line, you walk through one to get to the other. The suit shop is in the one furthest from the station and right up the end on the right passage. Go to Nakano on the JR Chuo line from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations, it's 7 minutes from Shinjuku. You can't miss the mall. I believe they sell overstock items from other shops at a reasonable discount and have a large selection. I would guess that you can buy a nicely fitting High Super s count fabric suit for around 30,000 or less, probably a pseudo Italian made in China.


    2. Almost every reasonably sized train station in Tokyo has at least one if not more suit shops. Major ones are Aoki, The Suit Company, Aoyama, they all tend to sell similar stuff in the 18,000 to 35,000 yen range.

    3.Walk around Shinjuku station West exit and you'll find some street stalls selling suits, they are hit and miss but you can sometimes find a bargain.

    4. If you want to pickup a cheap poly blend for under 10,000 yen, pm me when you get here and I'll give you directions to a shop about 40 minutes from Shinjuku. I wear them when I work with kids and don't want to get snot on my nice suits [​IMG]

    Now for your nicer suit, if your budget was $2000 CAD then you'll have about 140,000 yen left over after the cheaper suit, you can get a spankingly awesome fully canvassed MTM here in a number of places but that depends on how long you'll be in Japan? If you don't have time then I strongly recommend not dropping that kind of money on an OTR suit, either find a good tailor back home and have a suit made for you or you could get a nice OTR suit here at a dept store or one of the forementioned suit shops, made out of fabric from a top quality British or Italian mill for around 60,000 to 70,000 yen. Don't limit yourself to the Department stores in Shinjuku either, every major train station will have one or 2 department stores offering better value (not as big a selection and not so many high end brands). Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions I'd be happy to help out if I can.
     
  6. SeriousBusiness

    SeriousBusiness Well-Known Member

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    Bic Pentameter, thanks very much for that list. I'll definitely check them out. The possibility of arriving during a clearance sale would certainly be an option. How long does it take to make a MTM suit? I'll be there for 3 weeks...

    Fang66, I didn't know about the four different cuts. Sounds like I'm probably an "A", maybe a "Y". If I were to take a suit for alterations, what kind of time frame am I looking at to get it back?

    Saving the money and getting a MTM suit here at home is pretty much out of the question, as I wouldn't trust anyone here to do it properly. In Edmonton, "dressing up" is washing your jeans and wearing a new white pair of sneakers... So whatever nice suit I'm able to get will undoubtedly come from Japan lol.

    Thanks to both of you for your replies. Greatly appreciated.
     
  7. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    I never ran across any "make a suit in 24 hours" type places in Tokyo. Isetan, Takashimaya and the like will probably take 3-4 weeks to make a made to measure suit.

    The good news is that you probably should be able to find something in your size off of the rack.
    Another recommendation: Barneys New York. (Shinjuku has a better selection, but the Ginza location will do.)

    Bic
     
  8. Alter

    Alter Senior member

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    Lots of good advice here already but I can add that there isn't much you can find in Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe that isn't available in Tokyo. Most of the major stores are the same.
     
  9. culverwood

    culverwood Senior member

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    Muji is another possibility for your cheap suit.
     
  10. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    -1000 on Muji, just my opinion but have a look anyway.

    The last MTM I got took exactly 3 weeks so you might be pushing it. I'd do a lot of looking around on the first 2 days and make sure the shop will do the work in your time frame before you waste time there, if they can't move on.

    Alterations generally take a week.

    Personally I wouldn't buy a suit from Isetan or Takashimaya in Shinjuku as I think they're overpriced, however they do have two advantages, 1. fantastic range, 2. you can get an English speaking guide.

    +1 to Alter, if you can't find it in Tokyo you'll be unlikely to find it in Japan.

    I'm still concerned about a young guy like you dropping that much dough on a couple of suits, you never know what that 28" waist will look like in a few years or what your taste will be like then? Why not buy a really nice OTR for around 50,000 to 70,000 yen for your interviews, one or two beaters for 20,000ish each (of course have them altered as required) they'll look great just won't wear as well, but still if you take care of them you'll get a few years use at least. Then you'll have enough money left over for 2 or 3 pairs of really nice Regal or Scotch Grain shoes and change left over for some shirts, ties, casual stuff. Then after you get a job add a couple more suits/shoes to your rotation then after you've been working for a couple of years, and if you still have the sartorial bug I think you'll be in a much better position personal style wise to drop some cash on a few suits that you'll really love.

    As far as shoes go, Shinjuku Isetan always has a sale shelf, it's right next to the Regals. They're almost always good quality, reasonable range of styles and on deep discount, unfortunately never in my size [​IMG]

    What ever you decide have fun in Tokyo it's a great place not just for shopping.
     
  11. SeriousBusiness

    SeriousBusiness Well-Known Member

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    Bic, it sounds to me like going off the rack is my best option. I'll be there for exactly 3 weeks so it sounds like I'd be pushing it going for a MTM. I totally forgot about Barneys. I was at the flagship in NYC last summer, but a) wasn't looking for a suit at the time so never browsed them and b) was there with the GF and watched her try on ten pairs of jeans so I should go back there and familiarize myself with the men's section lol.

    Alter, thanks for the heads up. We're going to head to Osaka and Kyoto for a few days, but knowing that I won't find anything special there in terms of suits will save me the trouble of looking around. We can stick to the touristy stuff.

    Culverwood, I ran across the MUJI website during my research of Japan shopping and it looks like a cool store. I'm going to go there regardless and may as well check suits while I'm there. Thanks for the heads up.

    Fang66, ideally I'd find a nice suit in the price rang you mentioned. Here, if I was to go to a store for a top quality suit, I'd be looking at around $1,000 CAN so I figure spending that much in Tokyo is somewhat warranted. Or at least that's how I justify it lol. I'm really hoping I can find something on sale and then afford a nice dress shirt, tie, etc and then we'll all go out for a really nice dinner somewhere on our last night and dress up - or something like that.

    I'm certainly going to spend the first week or so shopping around and checking the different stores before I buy.

    You guys have all been of great help to me. Thanks again.
     
  12. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    For $1,000 CAN you'll get a very nice suit but make sure you shop around try on a few doz.

    Good luck.
     
  13. SeriousBusiness

    SeriousBusiness Well-Known Member

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    For $1,000 CAN you'll get a very nice suit but make sure you shop around try on a few doz.

    Good luck.


    Thank you sir. I'll report back how it all went.
     
  14. penniless

    penniless Member

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    Thank you for the thread and the replies as I am in similar position! I am also going to be in Tokyo (in 10 days) and I could use a couple of suits. The main difference is that I'm only going to be there for 5 days and my budget is around $750. I'm not looking for high end. Just something that doesn't make me look like a slob. I definitely need a charcoal grey suit. My ideal scenario would be to get two suits and an odd jacket (to last me around 5 years).

    I have a few questions (if I may hijack this thread) that I was hoping someone could address. Is the inability to speak in Japanese going to be a big problem? Also, I'm quite a fashion newbie. How helpful are the staff at the bigger dept. stores (where I'd probably end up shopping)?
     
  15. whistler

    whistler Well-Known Member

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    I can highly recommend the made-to-measure suits from Isetan Men's in Tokyo. The suit they made for me was basically spot-on, and they have a big range of fabrics. The tailors are very knowledgeable and accommodating too (and they speak English). Basic MTM from there costs 100,000 yen
     
  16. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    Thank you for the thread and the replies as I am in similar position! I am also going to be in Tokyo (in 10 days) and I could use a couple of suits. The main difference is that I'm only going to be there for 5 days and my budget is around $750. I'm not looking for high end. Just something that doesn't make me look like a slob. I definitely need a charcoal grey suit. My ideal scenario would be to get two suits and an odd jacket (to last me around 5 years).

    I have a few questions (if I may hijack this thread) that I was hoping someone could address. Is the inability to speak in Japanese going to be a big problem? Also, I'm quite a fashion newbie. How helpful are the staff at the bigger dept. stores (where I'd probably end up shopping)?


    Not speaking Japanese will be a bit of an obstacle. One problem I see is that people at the larger, very full service department stores such as Takashimaya and Men's Isetan, are more likely to be able to provide someone to you who speaks English. Unfortunately, the suits at those places are more likely to be expensive and outside of your budget.

    I would recommend you visit the Suit Company. I believe that the largest location in Tokyo is in Ueno/Ameyoko, but there are locations in many many other neighborhoods. The staff at the Suit Company tend to be women in their late teens and early twenties. This means that they will be more likely to speak some English. The suits at the Suit Company are also more likely to be within your budget.

    Bic
     
  17. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    Why the heck do you want to get a suit tailored in Japan? It's the most expensive country in the world and if you just take a short flight over to Beijing, or even Seoul, you could get double or triple the quality for the money. Maybe high-end Japanese tailors are renowned or something, but I got one done at Azabu Tailor (advertises as classic 40's/50's style suits) and I am not very happy with it. Granted it was only 36,000 yen, but still, I went to a couple of their offices and neither of the tailors seemed very interested in getting it done right for me, despite the fact that they didn't appear to have any other customers. They measured repeatedly and yet the suit still ended up being way too small for me... I mean come on, that's like the most cliche mistake an Asian tailor could make on a westerner- azabu's suits only seemed meant for scrawny hunched-over salary men. Maybe it's japanese style or something, but I can't even lean over and put my elbows on a table and rest my chin on my hands without the coat feeling like it's going to tear. Anyway, Azabu has higher-end suits as well in your price range, I suggest you stay away from them. Insult to injury, 4 weeks after I got my suit I went to beijing and some friends got some suits for like 100$ that looked much better than mine (though admittedly they might fall apart come winter [​IMG] To Azabu's credit, the suit is more classic/british looking than anything i could have expected to get tailored in the US for that price.
     
  18. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    Thank you for the thread and the replies as I am in similar position! I am also going to be in Tokyo (in 10 days) and I could use a couple of suits. The main difference is that I'm only going to be there for 5 days and my budget is around $750. I'm not looking for high end. Just something that doesn't make me look like a slob. I definitely need a charcoal grey suit. My ideal scenario would be to get two suits and an odd jacket (to last me around 5 years).

    I have a few questions (if I may hijack this thread) that I was hoping someone could address. Is the inability to speak in Japanese going to be a big problem? Also, I'm quite a fashion newbie. How helpful are the staff at the bigger dept. stores (where I'd probably end up shopping)?


    Take a look at my reply, regarding the suit store in Nakano sunshine/broadway mall excellent place for those on a budget. You won't get 2 decent suits and an odd jacket at the big dept stores in your price range. The language barrier is not a problem the staff will bring you some things approximately your size, just try them on and decide for yourself. Not being able to understand the sales pitch is a good thing.

    For $750 you'll be hard pressed to fill all your requirements, a cheap suit from P.S.F. Aoyama, etc or even the Nakano store above might look good for a while, but if you are wearing it more than once a week it definitely won't last 5 years. Had uncountable numbers of these suits over the last 8 years and any significant wear will have them looking like rags in a year or so.

    If I were you I'd have a look at the wizard of aahs, you should be able to get 2 quite nice looking and reasonably well made suits and an odd jacket within your budget, that with proper care will last 5 years. Also do a thorough search of this sight and AAAC you'll find a lot of advice about buying suits.
     
  19. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    Why the heck do you want to get a suit tailored in Japan?

    It's the most expensive country in the world.


    That's a bit of a myth, some things are expensive here and perhaps the country as a whole may be expensive, but even Tokyo is not as expensive as London and I assume some other cities like N.Y. however I agree it's certainly not the place to get tailored suits.
     
  20. penniless

    penniless Member

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    Thank you for the quick replies! A few things - I don't wear suits very often. Somewhere around five to ten times a year, currently. Also, the main reason I was asking is because the lady who showing us around had mentioned that during first week of July in Tokyo there are a lot of sales.
    Finally, I'm don't have my heart set on this. If you recommend I hold off and shop elsewhere, I'll gladly do so.

    Also, I'll check out the Wizard of Aahs.
     

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