HK tailors

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by GWorthings, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. GWorthings

    GWorthings Member

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    Hello guys, I've been reading the posts on SF about HK tailors for quite some time now, and one sentiment that has been brought up tangentially is the question of whether HK tailors are worth it or not. The general consensus is that it's not really worth getting a cheap suit in Hong Kong because gone are the days that cheap meant lower skilled craftsmanship, it now means getting awful material and a fused suit (please correct me if I'm wrong, I would love to hear of cheaper tailors who are cheap not because they rip you off by selling your junk, but just because they are not as good as the big tailors).

    So the question is, given that a suit from Chan/Baroman/A-Man/Yao/Yu would cost at least $1,000 for tropical fabric, and $1,300 for 4-seasons fabric, is it worth it when Gieves & Hawkes semi-bespoke starts at £1,200 (with fabric wearable in London's cold climate)? Especially because my understanding is that the HK bespoke is not true bespoke, and since they are lacking in the knowledge/advice department, it seems common for SF members to spend not insignificant money on suits, to never wear them.

    I guess the essence of the question is to what extent do Hong Kong tailor Houses hold their own against the English Houses? Are they no longer an economical, second-tier option, but a primary option in their own right (albeit still slightly cheaper)?

    I ask because I spend equal amounts of time in Hong Kong and London, and so timing is not an issue for me. Of course if the Hong Kong houses do stand up to SR (or even just a little below) then the prices would be justified. However, because of the rise in prices in Hong Kong, it seems to me that the prices are beginning to converge, and it may not be wise to view Hong Kong tailors as a resource of cheap, good suits.

    Please let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts!

    Yours,
    George
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012


  2. GBR

    GBR Senior member

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    This subject has been done to death and I am surprised that if you really have read the MANY threads on Hong Kong tailors why those answers are not good enough for you.

    Chan, Gordon Yao and Y William Yao are true bespoke and do match up to SR. Their proprietors have a good grounding in tailoring and indeed equal skills both personally and in their work rooms. They however proudly trade under THEIR names. Where you get the idea from that they are not true bespoke I really do not know - it makes me suspicious what you have read.

    HK tailors tend to be more flexible on style that some London houses due to being less set in their ways and having a genuine wish to accommodate their clients rather than tell them what to have: you might say that it is an advantage that they have a broader comfort zone and indeed commensurately greater skill.

    I have used Chan and SR in the past and Gordon Yao for the last 15 years, I see no reason to move from Gordon's fine service.

    You suggest that you can choose from either, why order order from each HK and a couple of SR houses and then report on your findings?
     


  3. TheTukker

    TheTukker Senior member

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    Briliant; really nothing to add.
     


  4. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    None of the tailors you mentioned do fused suits, they're all fully canvassed just like SR. Like GBR said, I think it's correct that HK tailors are more flexible... Yao listened to all of my requests but with Steed (SR), they were pretty much ignored. It is true that the prices are converging, if you really want say a Neapolitan style jacket, it might be cheaper just getting a jacket through Napoli Su Misura ($1600 I believe) versus a whole suit through Chan or Yao at just a few hundred less than that. And don't necessarily knock fused suits, I have a Thai tailor who can churn out unstructured shirt jackets for me for $400 each and the fusing is very minimal and high quality... yea if it got soaked in a rainstorm then put in a dryer on high heat for 2 hours it might warp, might not, but the probability of that is very low.
     


  5. GWorthings

    GWorthings Member

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    Thanks for the responses. The reason I felt the compulsion to ask are precisely because there has been such a mixture of views on SF. On the one hand I have seen some refer to Chan's work as "middle-low end SR", others refer to it as comparable, while others (what seems like the more dominant view) that it would be silly to compare two products at "such drastically different price point" as you get what you pay for, and while the best of HK are still below SR in craftsmanship and design, you get a good product for the price. As to the true bespoke comment, while I know they all create individual patterns, thus qualifying as bespoke, isn't the consensus that since they do not take the 40 or so measurements, it is not bespoke in the SR sense of the word?

    It is because of that third category of responses that I hoped for a discussion given the drastic price rises over the last few years. I'm sorry to have brought up something that has been discussed before, but I did feel that given the range of views, it was possible to flush out all the views floating around in a way that is helpful to other members.

    I am very happy to hear that the suits you have are every bit as good as their SR counterparts. I do want to tread carefully because while I am in both countries, I am currently a student, and so would like to be as efficient with the dollars as possible.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012


  6. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    By all means then, go with HK, or any cheaper option, first until you know more precisely what you want.

    There's a lot that's incorrect in your post, which you can't be blamed for because of all the misinformation out there on SF. First, I don't know where you got the 40 or so measurement thing from; Steed, considered by many to be the best on SR if not the world, only took maybe 15 measurements on me, and barely did anything on the first and only fitting. Yao took far more, and altered a lot on the fittings, and asked a lot more questions.

    Second, and more importantly, when sifting through all the information thats out there, it's important to nail down the specifics of what's different between tailors, not just vague references to 'quality', 'drape' or 'body' that some doting clients with no technical background allude to. A lot of the comparisons done between HK and SR are by members with no personal experience. I have only done one tailor from each, so I don't claim to be an authority, but what I can tell you is that each tailor did something wrong. Steed's collar lifts back and out from my neck even when at rest, he completely ignored my request of where I wanted the lapel gorge to be, and there is a ghastly ripple down the torso. Yao's lower back has some serious ripples in it, such that I don't even like to button the jacket so people won't notice. These are specific differences I've provided you, not amorphous references to 'quality' or whatever. There's nothing magical or sublimely superior about the SR jacket simply because it was made in England, so don't waste your money for that. There's only individual tailors out there doing individual work, don't make the mistake I did and think they come from certain 'traditions' with certain standards or whatever, they most certainly do not.

    Every tailor I've used has in one way ignored my requests and had what I consider unacceptable flaws in their suits. Now, if I went back to these tailors, over the course of several years, and got many more suits, I have no doubt that they would consistently churn out a product more to my liking. So, with your budget, and if you are even the slightest bit picky about what look you want, you should spend your first few years getting stuff tailored in HK. Whoever you pick, stick with them. Maybe I'm wrong and there's some excellent tailor hidden on the Row or in HK that could nail down a perfect suit for you the first try, but that's my advice.
     


  7. GWorthings

    GWorthings Member

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    I'm a little late, but thank you Svenn for the advice!
     


  8. GWorthings

    GWorthings Member

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    One thing I wanted to get your opinion on though - I've been getting quite a lot of stuff made by Hong Kong tailors - Y William Yu and Baroman, and when I compare the interior structure and canvassing of the suits, they seem to be extremely thin, especially when compared with offerings from the likes of Tom Ford and Ermengildo Zegna. The former seem to have almost wafer thin canvassing whereas the interiors of the latter seems to be much thicker, with a certain "give" like a pillow".

    Is there anything I can say to my tailors if I would like them to produce a suit with the interiors like the former. And at risk of sounding naive, other than the extra comfort from the softer and pillow like interiors, does this particular difference in structure affect the functionality/aesthetics/cut of the suit?

    Thanks for any help!

    George
     


  9. Stiva

    Stiva Senior member

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    George

    I can think of two possible explanations - which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The first is that you live in a hot or humid climate and so the tailor is using minimal canvassing. The second is that the tailor is simply using the modern lighter canvassing - which I don't consider to be inferior in form or function.

    See the attached article, which makes passing reference to the increased use of lighter canvassing:

    http://www.styleforum.net/a/the-difference-between-fused-and-canvassed-suits-explained

    Stiva
     


  10. H1837

    H1837 New Member

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    Hi All,

    I am in Hong Kong and looking to have some suits made. I had a suit made last time I was here at Jimmy Chen in the Peninsula and can't really comment on the quality of the tailoring, but was disappointed with the style,and some other small details that I now understand could have been different if I would have known to ask. It was a little bit of a impulse purchase so I just picked the fabric and went with house cut which I regret.

    Had some questions about what you need to tell the tailor so I have a list of things to tell them I want. Could you help me add to this:

    1) Cuffs that actually unbutton. If you don't ask you won't get it and in my opinion an expensive suit should always have this.
    2) What are considered good buttons? How do you all go about picking the buttons out? Should I ask to see a selection and is there a material that is more desired?
    3) Can someone give me the short version of the fabrics so I have some idea what the differences are and don't overpay for something? When I was there last time, suits went from about $800-$4000 when converted to USD depending on the fabric. I forgot what fabric I chose last time, but would like something that isn't so delicate that its going to fall apart, but is nicer than the fabric you will find on off the rack suits from armani, hickey freeman, zenga, etc.
    4) Are there any other small details or neat things I can ask for that most people don't know to ask for?
    5) I know from reading this forum that they can copy something that you take them, but is this a good practice? I would like a Tom Ford look, but I think 4k+ at the boutique is more that twice what they should cost. What I am concerned about is them trying to copy it, but not doing a good job and being stuck with something that looks odd. I know they can copy, but can they do it well?

    Lastly, this may sound very stupid, but if someone could comment on this I would be very interested. Seeing all these tailors around HK with these tiny sales shops with remote manufacturing facilities gives me the feeling that the shops are just sales offices and a great many of them are made by the same people at the same place regardless of what "sales office" you deal with. Meaning that some people that pay $2,000 in a five star expensive hotel tailoring shop are getting the same suit made of the same fabric that someone pays $800 for in the tailor shop in the mtr station beneath the hotel. Can anyone comment on this?

    As always would be interested in hearing recent recommendations on tailors. I don't care about the prestige of the location of the shop, I just want the best quality for a good price.

    Thanks in advance!
     


  11. bboysdontcryy

    bboysdontcryy Senior member

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  12. Suitman112

    Suitman112 New Member

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    I agree i stupidly tried 2 different tailors than the one you've mention (where I normally go). I just got suits in the post from lords tailor who also owns charms tailor. They claim to have some 5 star customer service award. Not sure how as their customer service was dreadful, against my better judgment I got 2 suits done......giving them my own zegna fabric....just had them arrive, total rubbish. They have over heated the fabric and melted it so it is all shiny now. Also the suits are not full canvas as they claimed and are at least 4 sizes to big........still waiting for a response to my email asking for reimbursement........maybe waiting a while......stick with the ones that charge a bit more and you wont be disappointed.
     


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