For years, I had been hearing great things about Suitsupply, the Dutch purveyor of well-made suits, clothing and accessories founded in 2000. Handsome suits with full-canvas construction, functional sleeve buttons and a very approachable price point are a very appealing idea. I had visited the website often and stopped into each of their New York stores a few times but had yet to pull the trigger on a suit until recently.
I must admit that I was inspired by Tim Gunn, a staunch advocate for shopping on a budget who gets his suits from Suitsupply. If it’s good enough for Tim, a style authority with more spending power than most label-obsessed show-offs, then it’s probably good enough for me and my thousandaire savior faire.
The suits come in more than a dozen different fits, ranging from classic to contemporary, including formal wear. My visits to the Suitsupply site and the shops had given me enough familiarity with the brand to know that their Napoli fit would accommodate my understated sensibility nicely.
While perusing the racks at the shop in SoHo on Broome Street, my eye was caught by a solid Blue Napoli. The rich color was somewhere between navy and French blue, and the fabric was a light wool and mohair blend with a wonderful hand. I tried it on and a nice young man named Kevin helped me with fitting.
Most of my suits are custom, but I’m a 38R off the peg. The fit in the shoulders was absolutely perfect, with nice structure and very light padding. The most noticeable difference between Suitsupply’s jackets and others in this price range is the lapel width. J.Crew’s lapel on the Ludlow is about 2.75 inches, and most jackets these days are about 3 inches, which is average. Suitsupply’s lapels are a little over 3.5 inches. As someone who prefers to have symmetry between the width of the lapel, shirt collar and tie, this would be a slight problem, since my existing arsenal is in the 3-inch range.
Another facet of the jacket’s cut that stood out to me was the length of the sleeve, which was short by my standards. With my arms relaxed at my sides, the sleeves of all my jackets just cover my wrist bone, revealing about a half an inch of shirt cuff below that. Suitsupply’s jacket sleeve was a good half-inch shorter, which they were able to lengthen. Unfortunately, this alteration offsets the normal distance between the sleeve buttons and the end of the sleeve, but the end result is hardly a tragedy. The only other tailoring needed with the jacket was a slimming in the middle.
The most obvious alterations needed with the pants were in the waist and the length. I like a slight break over the shoe. Other than that, it was a game of more slimming: in the hips, butt and thigh. The flat-front pants come with belt loops, which I never use. (I don’t even own a dress belt.) Suitsupply’s in-house tailoring service was able to remove the belt loops, but unfortunately not able to create side tabs with the extra fabric taken from the length – a task that would ultimately go to my tailor.
With the suit ($599) and the alterations ($148), my grand total was around $750. Less than a week later, the alterations were finished. Any tweaks needed on existing alterations at Suitsupply are free-of-charge, which I needed in the waist and the hips. The jacket was terrific. After a few more business days, it was finally ready. Since I had told them about my wish to have side tabs made for the waist, they provided me with the extra fabric taken from the length of the pants.
From there, it was another few days and another $28 at Ignacio’s Tailor on East 60th for side tabs before my new Napoli was fully ready for prime time.
Over the years, I had been a happy customer of an online tailor, loving the perfectly-fitting $500 made-to-measure suit that arrived at my door in four to five weeks via FedEx. Suitsupply is just a different process. For my own needs, there are things other brands do better, while there are some aspects of the Suitsupply experience that surpass all others in their price range. The shoulder padding is very light, which I love, and the jackets are made with a full-canvas construction, which I really love. And the fabrics mostly come from the renowned Vitale Barberis Canonico mill in Italy. But the inability to have side tabs made in place of belt loops was a bit of a bummer. And longer blank sleeves would be better, with the option to add the functioning sleeve buttons after the length is finalized. After alterations, the finished product tailored to my form and specifications was ultimately more expensive. Is it a “better” suit? I couldn’t say. But one thing is certain: it is beautiful.
All in, my Suitsupply experience was a very positive one. The store itself is a nicely appointed space with a very friendly and helpful staff and complimentary coffees, champagne or bottled water. Though I only bought a suit, Suitsupply has a complete menswear line that includes a handsome selection of shirts, accessories, outerwear, bags and shoes. They even have pajamas! They also offer made-to-measure service, which is worth exploration. Other men’s stores should take a note from their alterations and sales model – a modern, efficient and well-executed system that happens on iPads. The receipts and notifications I received by email were explicit and transparent. And the SoHo store where I bought my suit has an in-store tailoring shop where all the alterations are done. And… most importantly… the suits are terrific and the work is good. I totally get why Tim Gunn likes this place.