Published on September 5th, 2011 | by Staggered1
A Suitopian Society
This post is about one of the only things that have really given me a headache through the wedding planning: The suits.
As you know I decided to get my suit from Suitopia, despite my reservations of it being a remote service and therefore not having the fittings or consultations that normally go alongside bespoke suits. I had actually squirreled away some extra money of my own, which I put towards the budget allocated for the groomsmen’s suits. Doing this, I was able to buy a made-to-measure suit for each of the boys as their wedding gift from me.
Getting their measurements was relatively painless, and I put the order through the Sutiopia website with no fuss or issue at all. It was easy to select the cloth and style (similar to what I had planned for my own suit but in a less expensive cloth). The distribution once completed was a bit more complicated however. The suits are created at ethically sourced tailors in Vietnam (using similar principles to the Fair Trade scheme) and then are sent out via FedEx to their destination. Unfortunately for me the FedEx delivery process (once it reached the UK) was woeful, meaning I had to go to the depot to collect part of the order after my consignment magically managed to split itself in twain…
Getting the suits home, I took them out to take a look – the cut looked great, the style was exactly what I had imagined. However the lining colour was off – I had emailed Suitopia customer service to see if they could try and match the wedding’s purple colour as closely as possible, which they were happy to do for me. Unfortunately, the lining chosen by the tailors was a burgundy, not a purple. Now, it was not the end of the world, as our purple is quite a red one and, generally, the theme had ended up being more of an eclectic mix of berry colours than specifically purple. Suitopia offered to remake the suits by way of an apology, which I was extremely grateful for, but by this time Sharon and I had found a way to make it work by changing the groomsmen’s ties to match more closely with the lining and the other purples, tying everything in together.
Although we were not fussed, what Suitopia did, which I thought was amazing, was refund the cost of the new ties (in the same way that they would have done for any alterations). Result! The boys were sorted and when I managed to distribute them they all tried their suits on and each had good things to say about them and how they fit. There were some small alterations to make, but generally they all said they fit like a glove.
My major issues came with the delivery of my suit. Once I had seen the burgundy, I was very concerned that my suit would be using the same lining – which, seeing as mine was a 3-piece, would look very silly indeed, as the waistcoat back is made of lining only. Here came some negotiations on exactly what lining to use instead; they sent me a picture of some alternatives. However, before I could actually choose, I got a further email saying not to worry, as they had found a matching colour. I was a bit peeved at this as I was still not 100% confident after the last mistake, and wanted to make sure. I felt a bit like the tailors were running away with things without my input.
When the suit arrived, the lining was much better. As I suspected, it was not a match – this time a pink rather than a red. However, it was very close and definitely fit into the berry colour scheme going on in my buttonholes etc, so actually, I was very happy. The cloth felt amazing. It didn’t seem to fit well for me in the trousers (buttocks and thighs) or around the jacket waist. I put this down to me losing weight in the 4 weeks since I placed the order, and resolved to get the suit altered to account for this. I took the suit to the amazing Alteration Boutique in London, where their tailor appraised the suit on me. What was then made clear to me was that the quality of the cut was off in more than the areas I had noticed: The shoulders, legs, buttocks, waist and arms all had fundamental issues that were far and above what weight loss could account for.
The required alterations came to a whopping £200! The good news was that by having my tailor with me I could see the alterations take shape, as they were all pinned in place as I was wearing the suit. This meant I could be confident that the result would look as I had originally expected. I was more concerned by having to make so many alterations, especially actually having had experience of the quality of the suit making for the other garments that I had ordered. I raised my concerns to the Suitopia Customer Service, and – as ever – they were extremely helpful and polite. Below is an excerpt of their response from Lars in the Customer Service team:
(Bear with Lars – we suspect English is his second language – Ed)
“Regarding our tailors and the quality, we are using one of Vietnam’s absolutely top tailoring companies. The same tailors are producing suits for the army and the country’s president. We could use tailors that would produce our suits at 1/3rd of the cost we pay at the moment. However, we do not want to compromise with quality. I just checked and we have sold somewhere around 5-7000 suits to date, and I have personally received a huge amount of emails with very nice words about the suits and the handicraft. This feedback has been from business men, to the student without money, to the very picky suit-interested guy.
“Of course, in every business there can be issues. So I would say that this doesn’t seem more strange to me than that you have got a bad-day-at-work suit, if you (and your tailor) feels that it had these flaws. Of course that is not an excuse, but an explanation. We are still deeply sorry, especially when it occurs to your wedding suit.
“To be objective and not “Suitopia-ish”, a made-to-measure suit ordered without the bespoke/adjustments part at the tailor (a suit on Savile row would be tried at least 3 times during the process if I recall correctly) will never be able to compete with a tailor-made suit made by your local tailor, simply because it hasn’t got the same preconditions. But this is compensated by a price that is much more attractive. To produce a suit without seeing the customer in person is, of course, difficult. It has taken some years to get it working, but now when we are there, we are very happy to have a business that really works (almost every time).”
I think Lars has some very valid points – and I certainly went into this with my eyes open. I think that my suit was the exception rather than the rule and was probably impacted by the anxiety generated by the lining issue on the other suits. Ultimately the alterations have been made, I have a suit that I truly love and the quality overall is very, very good – especially considering the price. I have given constructive feedback to Suitopia, and they have taken it on board at each step. I have every confidence that their service will continue to improve, and will continue to provide customers with amazing value for money. What’s more they refunded the alteration costs in full. I simply cannot praise this company’s dedication to customer service enough.
Even considering all the issues I experienced, I have no hesitation in recommending Suitopia. I can’t wait to show off the suit on the big day, and through the whole process have felt like the Suitopia team have been there alongside me. If any impending grooms are interested in what they can offer, then you should check out their site now, as they currently are running a 10% Summer Discount.
Images courtesy of Suitopia’s Summer shoot on their Facebook Page