The first in a series on buying custom suits, I settled on Hong Kong known for its quick turnaround. I flew on American Airlines with the routing DCA-DFW-HKG 777 flight AA137 out and turnaround on AA138. A Harbour View room at the Sheraton in Kowloon was a quick and reasonable pick I was familiar with from my days at Mattel.
Of course, I came to Hong Kong to research the custom tailor market. Now only to find a tailor. Just walk down Nathan Road and they will find you. Apparently I had neon lights across my forehead, because I couldn’t walk 20 steps without some industrious business development guy putting his card in my face, offering to make me a suit. On my first pass, I took many of their cards, and tried to make mental notes on the approach and presentation of the sales person. If they were too pushy, forget about it. If they were not at least dressed neatly, no need to talk further.
So I settled on one and I take the walk down a side street in the wake of this excited salesman, into a nondescript building. I met the tailor exchange pleasantries and get to business. I was drawn to this beautiful cashmere fabric — an iridescent blue/green with pattern. I was excited, but I notice that there is not enough fabric on the bolt to make a suit as it take 3 1/2 to 4 yards to make a man’s suit. But the tailor assured me that he has more at another locale.
I got into the details that I want in the suit: hand stitched canvas, functioning button holes on sleeves, buttonhole on my slightly peaked lapel, details on the width of my pant leg, size of cuff, etc.
Everything was good and no problems. We plan to do a fitting at my hotel later that evening. So I pay my 50% deposit and off I go.
Just before the scheduled fitting I get a WhatsApp saying that there is not enough fabric to make a suit. I needed to come in to choose another. My initial reaction was to cancel, but how can I go to Hong Kong and not get a suit made, right. So I went in and chose another fabric. A glen plaid with an interesting color combo. Also cashmere. We set another fitting time for late that night.
They came to my hotel for the fitting. I finally met the real tailor, the first guy just took my measurements. He made a few minor modifications and off they go with the promise, “the suit will be ready tomorrow at 11:00 am,” just in time for me to take a car to the airport for my 1:40 pm flight home.
11:00 am comes and goes, so I called to confirm. They made it by 11:20 am and I try the suit on. The jacket fit well, but the pants were too short, so I left the pant, took the jacket and rushed down to take my waiting car to HKG.
It wasn’t until I returned home that I really took a look at the details on the suit. For example, no button holes on the sleeves, which aren’t functional.
Other than fitting well, none of the details that I requested were included. The moment I noticed, I called the shop to alert them. Not much in the way of a response, other than to request the balance before the pant is shipped. Unacceptable, so as of this posting I only have jacket with no details.
Stay tuned to see how this gets resolved. Hopefully this helps a few of you in the future.