Sunday, December 29, 2013

Made-To-Measure on a Budget: Tailor4Less Reviewed

A few weeks ago, a company called Tailor4Less approached me out of the blue about reviewing a blazer from their Made-To-Measure collection. I had never heard of the brand before, and some quick research didn't bring up anything too impressive, but I'm a big fan of the growing availability of custom (or closer to it) clothing for men, so I wanted to give them a try. I went ahead and ordered a blazer, sat back and waited for it to arrive. Honestly, when it came, I was pleasantly surprised! Based off of the fabric descriptions, low prices, and general lack of a preceding reputation, my expectations weren't very high, but the blazer I got fit fantastically, wore very comfortably, and has been earning me compliments left and right. Here are the details:

The Site and Ordering Process:
This is all pretty similar to any online MTM brand. The site isn't mind-blowing, but they are in the apparel business, not the web design business, so that gets a pass. It does automatically direct you to their Spanish(?) language site when you go to, but switch over to English (or your chosen language) and things move along easily. My only complaint here is that they ask you to pick you details before you pick you fabric. This might just be a personal thing, but I tend to base my style customizations pretty heavily off of the fabric I'm using. For example, a thicker wool fabric with a plaid pattern will probably get more casual detailing, where a slicker fabric with more of a sheen to it might be styled up for a more formal situations. What I ended up doing was throwing in some random customizations just to get to the fabric menu first, and then going back and altering my decisions. No biggie, just slightly inconvenient. 

Customization Options:
I'll preface this section with the fact that the blazers start at just $159 (compare to $300 at Indochino, or $379 at DragonInside). Therefore, the fact that the customizations are relatively limited, when compared to those other options, is pretty acceptable in my book. You still get all the basics (peak vs. notch lapels, 1 or 2 vents, 1 to 4 buttons, pocket styles, functioning cuffs, etc.). However, there is no choice for half-lining, slim/wide lapels, hacking pockets, or pick stitching. They may accommodate these types of requests via e-mail though, as they were able to switch button colors for me that way (although I ended up sticking with their standard per their recommendation).

For the record, I went with a single-breasted jacket, slim-fit, peak lapels, 2 buttons, a breast pocket, 2 double-welted pockets, side vents and non-functioning buttons.

Fabric Options:
Here is where the low price point comes into play again. I was on the hunt for a winter wool blazer, and it is damn hard to find one in their selection that is 100% wool. Most have a pretty decent percentage of polyester or other artificial fabric. However, there are many more 100% compositions available in linen and cotton. I ended up settling on a dark green (seasonal, eh?) wool/terylene blend called 'Glenmore,' which started at $195 (note, this is also where the price starts to creep up). I had actually never heard of terylene before, so I shot them an e-mail to inquire and they told me "This 10% of terylene (or polyester in other cases) adds wrinkle free properties to the garment, as it remains smooth even if you wear it all day long and it is much more easier to iron. Moreover, this material makes the product more resistant."

Ivory lining and monogram.
Final Customizations:
After picking your fabric, Tailor4Less gives you the chance to add a few more personalizations. Unfortunately, these all come at an extra cost that can quickly negate the originally 'bargain' price point. Picking a specific lining color, which is often included is an extra $17 or so. A monogram is $13, and a felt lining under the collar is another $5. Since I was getting mine on the house, I got all the accoutrements, with an ivory lining (all linings come in polyester, rather than bemberg), and a monogram and neck lining in matching (or as close as I could get) colors. You can also add elbow patches for $17, a pocket square for $13, or colored button holes for $5, but I passed on those. 

The Price:
Honestly, the starting price of $159 for a MTM is pretty unheard of, so I wasn't surprised that there would be a bit of a bump in order to get a decent fabric (not 100% polyester) and a few of my personalizations, but by the time I was done my blazer rung in at $229. Again, this is significantly less that the starting prices at Indochino or DragonInside, but it's starting to get a bit beyond true budget-range. That said, it's still a good enough price to make me happy, as long as the jacket itself doesn't fall in true budget-range quality.

The Measurement Process:
Everything standard here. Enough measurements to be thorough, but nothing too crazy where you're going to need to be up all night with a team of assistants and 10 measuring tapes covering every nook and cranny of your body. To be honest, I was in a bit of a rush so I just used my measurements from my recent DragonInside order and decided to hope for the best.

The Result:
Ugh, impossible to get good lighting in the winter.
Well first of all, stupid me, I didn't write down the date I received the blazer, so I'm not 100% sure how long the wait was, but it wasn't bad at all. Granted I wasn't hanging on the edge of my seat, or on a deadline to wear it for a specific event, but I do know I didn't feel like I was waiting unreasonably long. So here we go: Off the bat, the fit was pretty darn impressive. Maybe next time I'll add a cm or so to the sleeves, but they are perfectly fine as is. The jacket is slim but not tight, and lays nicely on my shoulders and chest. The collar may be a bit high in the back too, but it doesn't bunch and it really just is extra help in avoiding collar gap. Again, something I may adjust ever-so-slightly on a future order, but will serve me just fine as is.

Despite the artificial-fiber component of the fabric, the hand of the jacket is quite luxurious. It's not quite as thick as I was hoping for as a winter wool, but the green is rich, the jacket is soft, and, in the few times I've worn it so far,
Maybe a tad long in the sleeves?
it has yet to develop any of the standard signs of cheap fabric (shininess where it rubs, pilling, etc.). Also, I didn't have high hopes from a 100% polyester lining, but it too is soft and the whole combination makes it actually one of my most comfortable jackets.

The styling came out great. I mentioned my individual specs previously, but the big picture look I wanted was winter-appropriate with a bit of a formal edge. I stuck with a heartier winter-weight wool in a very seasonable dark green, both of which might initially lean casual. However, I kept a dressy aspect with welted pockets and peak lapels. The ivory lining definitely, when seen, definitely lends to the classiness of the whole jacket as well. So far, I've worn it to two holiday concerts, with fantastic results, and I actually am probably going to wear it again this New Year's Eve, as my suits are at the tailor (woops, bad timing).

Peak lapels.
Double-welted pockets.
Evenly-spaced buttons and clean stitching on the button-holes.
Tailor4Less branding inside the collar.

Bottom Line:
Overall, my low expectations were definitely exceeded. I'm not sure I would choose T4L over DragonInside or even a decent OTR jacket from Frank and Oak. However, if you're a guy on a strict budget and non-standard proportions (or just eager for that customized fit), this may be the way to go. My own jacket creeped up in price, but there are definitely some extras I could have done without that would have left this closer to the $200 mark. I have yet to try any of their other many options (coats, suits, shirts, etc.), but it's definitely a MTM option to keep in mind. 

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