Shopping is one of my favourite pastimes. I probably wouldn’t call it a hobby, it’s more of an indulgence of an addiction. My unconditional love for spending money. Though my parents have often derided my silly outgoings, I know my disinterest in frugality comes from them. My mother is the first to roll her eyes at me or my brother’s new purchase, but said eye-rolling is often done while wearing a new Stella McCartney dress, or freshly-creased Chloe t-shirt. We all buy in excess, and are shameless partakers in consumerism and capitalism. It’s a guilt I feel every time I enter “that number on the back of my card”, lingering beneath a sinister grin that even Willem Dafoe would be proud of.
I would like to think however, that my purchases are getting smarter. Gone are the days I buy multiple shirts from the highstreet, or decide to justify buying three of the same chinos in blue, black, blue. I was recently tweeted a question about these $1000 jeans from a Japanese denim brand called 45rpm, and while I personally wouldn’t go higher than £200 for denim, even that amount to the curious gentleman was absurd. I would agree that at one point in my life I thought spending more than £150 on anything clothing related WAS absurd, and though this isn’t going to be a post which statistically attacks the premium and luxury price points, so many things are hard to justify when we are consistently flogged with sales & marketing information such as “Made in England, selvedge Japanese denim, hand-made, hand-constructed, hand-stitched”. While much of this could be factually true, so little of what we see on labels doesn’t actually hold that much weight. “Made in England” could really mean a bunch of cheap fabrics which are then pieced together in England, so while you might get a “brilliant” service (if you really think England is synonymous with “brilliant”) the quality of the fabrics might actually be pathetic.
[back in Shanghai. Introducing my friend Will to one of my favourite tailors over there]
Bad purchasing experiences aside, I recently had quite a good one with Moss Bros. The brand is very well known, and one I would say is a stop for first time suit buyers. The price points are what makes it accessible, and its rental service is what booms during prom, wedding and Ascot season. I haven’t purchased a full suit in a while, as I was fortunate to live in Shanghai for a long period of time where I could get extremely affordable bespoke tailoring. The brand had provided me with an opportunity to try out their new Tailor Me service.
Sceptical isn’t the word I would use, I suppose my initial hesitant reaction was the fact I hadn’t been to Moss Bros in a very long time. I haven’t bought a full formal suit since my days in the ‘business world’, and since then most of my tailored pieces have been bits and bobs. I’ve abandoned the idea of ever buying a suit from the highstreet because of the absurd quality of the fabric. The majority I have bought do not take to drycleaning very well, they lose their shape, and there’s this awful bobbling of the fabric that is practically irreparable. I was however, very pleasantly surprised by the Tailor Me service.
The full service starts from around £300 for a two-piece suit. To give a comparison, that’s about £100 higher than other highstreet suits for an off-the-peg suit. By highstreet off-the-peg I generally mean, there’s no personal alterations, limited (mostly shit) fabric selection and an even more limited choice of cut, as that’s decided by whatever is on trend. The difference between the Tailor Me service and buying off-the-peg, is you choose the fabric from a selection, you decide on the cut, the buttons, the embroidery details if so desired, the pockets, the linings – all essentially for £100 more. It might sound a little daunting going through the process if you’ve never ordered a bespoke/made-to-measure suit before, but the guidance and suggestions are there for you to find something that might be comfortable for you. It really is quite brilliant value for money, if you’re willing to wait the 30 days for it to be made.
I had a good experience with my Tailor Me service. Dominic, my “tailor”, was pretty knowledgeable, personable and enthusiastic about the service and its offerings. We talked a lot about the highstreet shopper and the sort of events where these “special suits” are more desirable. I was quite interested in the restrictions of the service, but they are quite far and few for the initial buyer. For example there’s no double breasted option, but if you’re buying for a wedding or you’ve never had a suit tailored for you, you’re better off starting with a two-button anyway. The most impressive part for me was the fact that when I went to get my suit, the trousers fit perfectly. And I’m pretty picky with my trousers.