Review: The Indochino Traveling Tailor – Chicago
Post and photos by Arts & Culture correspondent Ben Madeska. Expect a follow up review on the suit once it arrives. Also expect more of these Traveling Tailor events. San Francisco? Looks like you’re on deck.
Before this, I had never been fitted for a custom suit. A few years ago while in Rome I went into a tailor’s shop and picked a white suit (when in Rome…) off the rack, and since they had a tailor on site, I had some alterations done on the spot. The few other suits I own are all ready-to-wear from places like Macy’s and Banana Republic. They fit my lanky frame well enough after minimal tailoring.
Because I have long, thin limbs I’m wary of ordering clothing online. I had checked out the Indochino website and I liked what they offered, but I had never pulled the trigger. Their new Traveling Tailor pop-up shops promised to take the guesswork out the process. Before hitting their Traveling Tailor in Chicago for my fitting I had decided the fabric I wanted, the essential Navy two piece, but not much else.
I walked in the Great Hall at Union Station in Chicago a bit early for my reservation and was immediately given over to a tailor. She began by asking some basic measurement questions, and it quickly became apparent to the two of us that I was new to this process. Height and weight? 6’4” and 185. So far, so good. She then measured my neck and we were on our way.
I had made a point of wearing a dress shirt and dress shoes, but I wore blue jeans instead of suit pants, so she had to pull the tape measure a bit tight when measuring for the pants. She explained that jeans are a thicker fabric and she had to compensate when measuring for suit fabric.
I was given a sample suit to try on, and it was about at this point that I became extremely self-conscious about standing in the middle of the Great Hall in an ill-fitting sample suit being measured and recorded. Commuters and tourists walked by and I stared straight ahead into the mirror.
The jacket fit pretty well, but the pants were too tight, so the tailor gave me another pair to try on. I did a few squats in these without busting out the seams and pronounced them a good fit. She then started taking finer measurements and asking my fit preferences. “Does the jacket fit right in the chest.” “Yeah…it seems ok.” She hesitated. “Or not…do you think it should be tighter?” She cinched it just a bit and asked how that felt.
Fitting samples at the ready.
That was the routine for all subsequent measurements. An extra inch or so was added to the sleeve and pants lengths, and the hem of the jacket. Other places were brought in. I had a general idea of what I wanted in a suit and she was able to refine it. Measurements taken, I was passed off to my personal stylist.
First choice was suit fabric. I knew I wanted a navy suit, but I stopped to look at some of the other options. I wanted an idea of what these looked liked in person in case I ordered online in the future.
Indochino brings along bolts of their suiting fabric so customers can get a closer look.
For the suit lining I was inclined to take a more conservative choice (blue or grey, probably), but my stylist steered me towards more interesting options. The nice thing here was that I could actually put the two fabrics together to see how they worked. I opted for the pink (yes, pink), at my stylist’s suggestion.
More customization: Notch lapel, slim. Two buttons. Center vent. No pick stitching. Slanted pockets. No waist pocket. Functional sleeve buttons. Boutonniere. Belt loops. No pleats. No cuffs. Etc. I didn’t always have strong preferences, and for every option the stylist was able to give a suggestion, a personal opinion, an explanation.
Indochino’s Midnight Blue Tuxedo on display
Because I had made a reservation, Indochino included a custom shirt with the suit. Again, they had all the shirt options available for me to look at, and again I was able to look at suit fabric with the shirt options to help make my decision. At the suggestion of my stylist, I opted for the gray tattersall. All that remained was to pick the collar (medium) and cuffs (two button, angled).
If I were to choose again, I would take the opportunity to go formal for my one and only custom-made shirt. At the time I decided to get something I would get a lot of regular use out of. I just don’t have much call to pull out my cuff links these days.
Finally, they included their suit utility kit with the purchase, including a black silk tie, tie clip, cuff links, pocket square, and tape measure. Joe reviewed the kit earlier here.
From start to finish, the process took less than half an hour, and I have to assume I was on the long side. It was extremely smooth and professional. The staff was helpful and patient with someone who was clearly new to the full-customization process, gracefully steering me away from poor decisions. I have high hopes for the completed suit.
Full disclosure: Indochino did not pay for this review in any form, which is our protocol. Suit has been paid for in full. Since Ben had never gone through the Indochino experience, we figured it was best to send him for perspective. Meanwhile, The Daily Hookup is running an Indochino Deal right now. $320 for a $379 suit plus a free shirt & tie. Vouchers exp. 9/27/12.