Visiting the tailor can be a bit intimidating. He sizes you up sartorially when you walk through the door and literally a few minutes later – an awfully intimate process given the unfamiliar surroundings. Haberdashers have long tried to settle customers' nerves with drink, but many men (read: American men) still retreat to the department store and the comfort of boxy, off-the-rack suits. That problem is being solved by a group of new-school sellers of an old-school service: on-demand tailoring. These companies take the time and stress out of bespoke suiting by making house and office calls, empowering men to measure themselves, and altering store-bought suits into more flattering silhouettes. In each case, the investment – in terms of time and money – is remarkably low given the on-trend dividends. That's reason enough to cancel your annual appointment with that Hong Kong-based tailor who swings through town once a year to empty your wallet.
The suits offered by these companies vary from the flashy to the extremely conservative, but each company offers to create a more complimentary product and to make the whole process pleasant – if not enjoyable. And having fun with it is part of the high-end suiting process; it has been since the first British trader stumbled down Savile Row with a highball in hand.
Here are the best of the new breed.
Less service than solution, Indochino empowers its customers (or their significant others) to do the measuring. The process – a step-by-step video guide is available on the service's site – takes between five and fifteen minutes, depending on how exacting the deputized tailor decides to get. Once the numbers are entered into Indochino's system, customers are offered a wide variety of smart-looking, inoffensive suits. Ultimately, Indochino is all about efficiency and its suits can seem too middle-of-the-road to qualify for the bespoke label.
Indochino's well-constructed duds come with choices like the number of buttons on the coat, peaked or notch lapels, double or single vents, and – if you are still stuck in the nineties pleated pants. We think you should skip the pleats, but definitely get your name sewn in the jacket. Why not?
Because amateurs make mistakes, Indochino offers customers unhappy with the fit of their suit a $75 alteration credit usable at local tailors. If you're forced to use this fallback, you'll probably end up wondering why you didn't just go to the tailor in the first place. For this reason, we recommend visiting one of the brand's "Traveling Tailor" events, where knowledgeable workers take measurements and run potential buyers through the myriad available options, including functional sleeve buttons (you want those). Indochino may not come to you, but its events are breezy fun and it remains the most efficient way to buy a custom suit.
Cost: Fully customizable suits starting at $449. That's just a shade more than an off-the-rack suit from J. Crew.
Convenience: Getting fitted for an Indochino suit is incredibly easy – though you'll owe someone a favor. Our suggestion: If you can't make it a tailoring event, ask your most stylish friend for his help and give him some whiskey for his troubles. Bespoke suiting was always partially about the experience.