The Pitfalls of Online Custom Suits (Part 1 of 4)

The web—the great democratizer—enabling us to do things faster, cheaper and better than the physical world ever could. That’s the story, right? Well, it’s certainly done that for a number of industries--food delivery, hailing taxis, and not getting lost--to name a few. Though with all the promise that technology has to offer, there is one frontier that is much further away from crossing than it appears: custom suits.

New websites pop-up every day with the promise of a better fit at a lower cost than you can get at brick and mortar stores, but what sounds like a great deal on paper turns out to be much more complicated than it appears. It’s easy for a site to rattle off A number of buzzwords about suits—canvas construction, horn buttons, surgeon's cuffs—but what they fail to do is set appropriate expectations for the suit you will receive as a first-time buyer.

When you think about a custom suit, you probably have a picture in your mind of the fit and features you like, even if that picture is a bit fuzzy. While the promise of a garment tailored to your exact specifications seems like it’s just a list of measurements away, there are many more variables that go into a suit which ultimately define its look and fit. For the purposes of this post, I’ve divided these aspects into 3 parts—Measurements, Construction, and Fabric—that, when combined, determine a suit's fit and style.

In this series of posts, I’ll walk you through each of these categories to explain how buying a custom suit online sounds like a straightforward process, and is certainly advertised as such, but it is much more complicated than meets the eye. By sharing the knowledge I’ve gained through my experiences with a number of different retailers—both online and in store—I hope I can help you avoid some of the mistakes that I’ve made in my search for the perfect suit.