bespoke

Latest Acquisitions from Shanghai C&G

A few months ago, I sent some fabric to Shanghai C&G tailoring for some suits. I received some QC pictures today showing the completed items and I look forward to receiving them in the mail soon.

 

Fabric: pinstripe from Holland and Sherry. Petrol Blue Mohair from Harrison Burley.

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Matthew Aperry Review Round 2, Check Jacket

I was at the shallow end of a monthly paycheck and I wanted an odd jacket for more casual functions, something that wasn’t as businesslike as a regular suit jacket but still smart enough for lazy summer afternoons and social catch-ups.

After placing a recent order for a suit from online tailoring company Matthew Aperry, I had an opportunity to review a follow up product from the online custom clothier to see if the fit could be improved with subsequent orders.

I was interested in a jacket with a more textured and thicker weave than the matte solid blue suit that I had ordered. I noticed a fabric in their books labelled as a “super 160s”. I wouldn’t place too much stock in the super number as the labelling can be quite erroneous but the wool had a nice open weave, a good texture and an interesting pattern which I could not find elsewhere.

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THE SPECS

I spoke to Belinda about the overall workmanship of their jackets. Their default construction is a half canvas with a floating chest piece. This is essentially a piece of wool/cotton canvas slotted between the outer shell of the fabric and the lining at the upper half of the jacket to give the jacket some shape. I requested the following changes to their default pattern.

  • Padded lapels and full canvas. The extra canvas gives the jacket lapels a “roll” which cannot be replicated with the cheaper fused effect. The canvas also means the jacket won’t bubble over time as there’s no glue between the fabric to degrade.

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  • White resin buttonsIMG_20141206_125051_2
  • Blue patterned liningIMG_20141206_124943_3
  • Ticket pocket
  • 3.5 inch notch lapels

Having gone through the ordering process once, it’s far easier to repeat future orders and make changes from the pattern they have stored in their database. My basic measurements were already on a form and I changed the shoulders to make them a little smaller. I also reduced the chest size by 1cm to remove any lumps in the fabric.

The trimmings again, were a basic polyester lining and resin buttons and it would’ve been nice if they could upgrade to something slightly better like mother of pearl or horn, even for a marginal premium.

Nevertheless, the quality of buttons isn’t a huge issue. I can easily replace them with some 24L /32L mother of pearl buttons I picked up from Ebay rather cheaply.

The stitching was clean, typical of a machine made jacket and the buttons were sewn on firmly. The buttons are machine sewn and a little messy. There was some hand finishing around the armholes, which is something that’s rarely seen on jackets at this price range.

Typically, jackets that cost under $400 are 100% machine made, fused and are made of a polyester blend fabric. This is not one of those jackets and represents a reasonable quality for the price.

THE FIT

The package arrived in about 2 weeks in a padded bag from TNT express. Unfortunately, when I received the jacket, there were some slight issues with the shoulders which were still cut about 1cm too wide on either side. It seems no matter how much I request the shoulders to be made a little tighter, their default pattern shifts the shoulders to a wider measurement. This is something I wish Matthew Aperry could address with future orders.

I dropped the jacket off to the tailor for some minor alterations to the shoulder and while it took a few weeks for the tailor to finish the job, it was returned with an improved fit.

Fit, after some minor tailoring thanks to BQ Yan of Sydney

Fit, after some minor tailoring thanks to BQ Yan of Sydney

I was generally happy with their pattern and I noticed they were able to have the checks match up around the shoulders and the pockets, which many made to measure companies could not deliver for that price.

I noticed the patternmaking at the bottom of the jacket could use some improvement, especially as the checks don’t actually line up but it was far more than what I expected for a sub-$250 jacket. Equivalent offerings at places like MJ Bale or Charles Tyrwhitt don’t offer this level of construction and are priced higher.

The rest of the fit was good. I was quite happy with the drape and texture of the fabric. They were able to resolve some problems with a slightly dropped shoulder and the cut was slim but not overtly tight.

CONCLUSION

As I said before, I think Matthew Aperry offer a reasonable product at a more than reasonable price range and their offerings improve with subsequent purchases. Online made to measure is a process and while the first order might not fit 100%, it’s worth a second try to get things right and at their price point, they are an affordable option that can yield a lot of potential. Their willingness to accommodate requests also makes them a better option if you’re looking for something specific.

Now if only they could trim down the shoulders on their default cut and improve the quality of their buttons and lining fabric, they’d be one of the best value online tailors around at the sub $400 bracket.

Matthew Aperry can be found at http://www.matthewaperry.com

Any requests outside the standard patterns should be made by email. They’re generally quite accommodating when it comes to unusual requests.

Shanghai C&G Review

SHANGHAI C&G FASHION

One of the things about working in a law firm is that I ended up with quite a few suits, some of which are better fitting than others. I’ve found as I worn through several of my earlier suits, I started to get a better understanding and appreciation for what makes a good suit. Some tailors offer a suit for an affordable price and a reasonable fabric but with poor construction. Others offer suits with good construction, a tailored fit but poor fabric. It’s very rarely that I find a good tailor that can nail a suit with a good fit, a recognised fabric and amazing hand-stitched construction all for a very reasonable price. Shanghai C&G is one of those tailors.

I was first introduced to Shanghai C&G by a friend from Styleforum. Previously, I had bought a number of suits from a range of online and travelling tailors with a presence in Australia with mixed results. However, what I was looking for at the time was a tailor who could work with a length of suiting fabric that I had ordered from Huddersfield during one of their weekly mill specials and who could deliver a three piece suit for under $400. I was pleasantly surprised by the result of my first commission from them and I have since commissioned two more.

WEBSITE

Shanghai C&G are based in Shanghai and they make suits for a number of Australian and US-based made to measure operations. While English is not their first language, they are quite responsive to my email enquiries and I was able to arrange my order over the internet using measurements from some existing suits that I already had in my wardrobe. I also understand they can do in-person fittings if you visit their workshop at Zhoukang Road, Pudong, Shanghai. The online sales is run by a lady named Amy Yang, who is very knowledgeable about the product.

As I alluded to in my review for another online tailor, having a good set of measurements with notes about your body is the key to getting a well-fitting suit from the internet. Things like a lower shoulder, posture, the roll of your shoulders could drastically affect the fit of your suit even though the measurements are the same. While local tailors like P Johnson’s Suitshop deals with this problem by offering a local alteration service after receiving your suit, the services of a local fitter and alteration comes at a price. I strongly recommend anyone ordering to get professionally measured.

Conveniently, there’s a measuring guide on their site and in that respect, they’re very similar to many other online tailors. Do the measurements a couple of times at least, to make sure they’re correct and go to an experienced tailor to comment on the adjustments that need to be made for your body. I find it’s useful to get the measurements from a well-fitting garment to avoid errors, or even send in an existing suit for them to copy.

However, as you’re dealing with the tailors directly, they don’t offer the same level of after sales service you might expect if you go to somewhere like Indochino, Black Lapel, Dragon Inside or Elite Suits. There’s alot of competitors these days. It’s important to note you’ll probably be paying half the price of what you might be paying from those guys for an equivalent product and this is very much a different type of experience in made to measure tailoring where you avoid the glossy marketing. I’m actually quite hesitant to recommend them if you haven’t bought a suit online before because the potential for mistakes is still there, However, the product that C&G produces is better than most.

Not the greatest webpage in the world but it does give you an idea of what they're capable of doing. All orders are arranged by email or in person.

Not the greatest webpage in the world but it does give you an idea of what they’re capable of doing. All orders are arranged by email or in person.

I found the best way to communicate what I wanted to Amy was by sending in photos of what I wanted and being specific on the choice of linings and buttons. They offer a wide range of bemberg and silk linings, as well as horn and pearl buttons. This gives you a lot of options in making what you want. While some of the images on their website are rather questionable, it goes to show what they’re capable of making.

… Kudos to whoever ordered this, but safe to say, it’s probably not for a regular 9-5 office job. Or maybe it is.

I understand they offer a range of tailoring options, with their machine-stitched half canvas being the cheapest, and their hand stitched full canvas being their most expensive. Their cheapest machine made half canvas suits, made from a generic Chinese-milled wool starts around $150, and their hand-stitched full canvas options start around $300. Generally, shipping to Australia costs another $50 or so and the better fabric are more expensive.

THE SPECS

The first suit I ordered from Shanghai C&G was a grey check three piece, with the fabric ordered from Huddersfield during one of their weekly specials. At 25 GBP a metre, I needed about 4 metres to make my three piece suit. I submitted my measurements through the order forms and paid for the order with paypal, incurring a 0.4% surcharge. At the time, the AUD – USD – GBP exchange rate was moderately favourable and my 3 piece suit (including the cost of the fabric) came to around $600 in total, including shipping. This made it a far cheaper option than going to a ready to wear place like MJ Bale or Suitsupply and the suit was fully hand stitched with a full canvas, instead of a machine made half canvas.

I note the Suitsupply La Spalla, a machine made, off the rack full canvas suit in a similar fabric retails for around $1,000.00 which puts the value of the hand stitched, made to measure suits from C&G into perspective.

CMT1

Went from this…

Trousers in construction

A curtained lining in the trousers with a split waistband and braces buttons.

Jacket lining detail

Jacket lining detail

Jacket after completion

Jacket after completion

I ordered horn buttons a bemberg lining for a softer feel and I requested 3.5 inch lapels with a functioning boutonniere. I also asked for a split waistband, suspender buttons on the trousers and  horn buttons. Prior to receiving the suit, I had requested Amy to send over some pictures of the work in progress so I could confirm the details for myself. Safe to say, they did not disappoint.

A suit made of this material and with this level of construction could have easily costed over a grand at any other tailor. The Huddersfield fabric is a light super 120s 230gs/m that breathes well and doesn’t hold any creases. It was perfect for a Sydney summer and I was pleasantly surprised they managed to get it right the first try.

THE FIT

CMT Detail

Fit

Fit picture

CMT3

The suit far exceeded my expectations and while there was only a minor sleeve pitch issue which I got fixed at M&R Tailoring for around $90, it was nearly perfect and could have been comparable to a bespoke garment. The fit silhouetted my figure nicely but wasn’t too tight anywhere and gave me plenty of room to move around. The stitching was clean and had all the character of a hand stitched suit with details.

The shoulder pads are soft but also structured and you can feel the substance and layering in the construction, unlike some cheaper tailors. The lining for the trousers are made from a durable cotton, and they are curtained so keys and other sharp objects won’t puncture the pockets.

With subsequent suits from C&G, I was able to refine the fit even further but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by their first attempt at getting the suit right.

Mohair suit still in basting stage.

Mohair suit still in basting stage.

Mohair

Midnight blue mohair suit from C&G, with a length of fabric from Ebay

A double breasted suit I ordered from Shanghai C&G Fashion

Double breasted suit I ordered from Shanghai C&G with the Huddersfield Wool.

THE VERDICT

If you have a specific commission in mind, know your measurements and are patient enough to deal with tailors whose first language isn’t English, I have yet to find another tailor than Shanghai C&G that can do a better job at the same price. The construction, fabric choices and fit comes out far better than any local options and the pricing is very competitive, even in light of the recent hikes. Their cheaper suit options exceed the quality of anything else around that price range and I would not be surprised if more expensive local tailors actually send their jobs to them.

With any online tailor, fit can be improved with subsequent orders and I’ve found C&G are very accommodating in that regard by offering feedback on how to improve the fit. Their willingness to work with CMT (cut, measure, trim. Essentially, providing your own fabric) is remarkably useful when you can find cheap specials in suiting fabric. However, their own fabric options are quite extensive and they can send you scans if you’re looking for, say, a specific pinstripe or check of a specific colour.

Just don’t order the fluro pink leopard print suit and I think you should be fine.

PROS

*Great value, great fit. Probably the best price:quality ratio online made to measure tailor I’ve found. 

*Great fabric options, a wide range to suit every budget.

*Horn buttons available at no extra.

*They accept CMT orders

*Can customise anything and everything. 

CONS

*English not first language

*Ordering can be a confusing process if you don’t know what you want. 

*You need accurate measurements, or failing that, make a visit to China for a fitting

*You need to know what you want. Not beginner friendly and no remake policy. 

*Only accept USD and payment systems are not elegant. Kinda hurts when the AUD is falling in value…

Shanghai C&G can be found at http://greatclothes.cn/