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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.

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Pocket Squares on a Budget

I like pocket squares. I think a nicely folded pocket square can add a nice touch to a work suit in a rather dandified fashion. The problem is they’re often difficult to find and some of the squares with nicer patterns, such as those from Henry Carter, Sam Hober or Luxire tend to be priced out of my little league budget.

Of course, there are budget alternatives like just folding a regular white cotton handkerchief in your pocket. There’s also alot of ebay dealers who mass-sell polyester squares for weddings. I personally avoid them because while cheap, the fabric looks rather nasty and they don’t hold creases very well. Nothing like having a wad of polyester lumping out the bottom of your pocket like a misshapen manboob.

I’ve seen a few from thetiebar which have rather interesting designs and at $10-15 USD a pop, they’re certainly affordable and don’t break the budget.

However, I’ve recently found an ebay seller who stocks a wide range of cheap pocket squares and at around $3 per square, they really have no business being this cheap. There’s alot of interesting paisley, stripe and dot designs and I was pretty keen to try them out. Hell, for less than a price of a coffee and free shipping, there was little harm in buying a few and if they didn’t arrive, I’d just go through the arduous process of filing a paypal dispute.

Pocket Squares

I ended up buying three paisley squares in a cotton-blend fabric. I like some small paisleys and they complemented some ties that I had. While the shipping took a while, I was impressed by the quality at the price. These squares aren’t the fancy grenadine or Macclesfield ones you buy from accessory stores but damn, they certainly don’t look like the cheap squares that come with matching ties from wedding sets pushed by alot of ebay vendors and they can hold a fold quite well.

For less than the price of lunch, I managed to score some bargain pocket squares and look awesome doing so. Granted, they took a month to arrive but damn, there’s few complaints there.

They can be found in the ebay store of the user known as “Goodmakers”. He (she?) sure made some good there.

Matthew Aperry Review

Anyone who’s known me for a while will know that I like nice things but don’t like to pay big money. That’s the reality when starting off a new career without much cash to spare. Fortunately, I have amassed a small collection of suits over the years and I was very interested in trying out a deal that came up one weekend from a site called Matthew Aperry.

ONLINE TAILORS

I ordered a number of suits from the internet tailors over the past three years, mostly from workshops based in South East Asia. Matthew Aperry is just one of the many companies that have emerged over the last three or four years that promise tailored clothing like suits, shirts and trousers over the internet. Back around 2010, places like Indochino were doing a lot of business selling custom Chinese-made suits over the internet. There’s a lot more competition now from places like Black Lapel, Elite Suits, Institchu and Dragon Inside and they operate on a similar premise of sending in measurements, and then receiving a suit a few weeks later in the mail.

Matthew Aperry is one of the newer companies and they are one of the more affordable options in online tailoring. They’re a company with an office based in Shanghai but the suits are made in a factory in Suzhou. I’ve previously ordered some suits before and while there were some issues with the fit and ordering process, their staff were very accommodating when assisting me with my options. The sub $300 – 400 USD price range for many of their suits also makes them a very attractive option, especially in light of price rises from many of their competitors in recent years and the falling AUD.

From my experience though, online tailoring isn’t for everyone. It’s easy to get things disastrously wrong and there’s a whole thread of tailoring disasters on Styleforum. These problems are compounded when the tailors making the suit interpret the measurements differently from whoever’s doing the measuring and there’s no easy way of trying on the garment before it’s shipped across the world.

There’s also a plethora of information that cannot be easily communicated by measurements alone, like sleeve pitch, dropped shoulders and posture that can cause problems with fit. In that regard, Matthew Aperry is no worse than its competitors in offering a small alteration credit and a remake if the tailors deem it unalterable. However, it’s interesting that they don’t remake if the measurements you provide are incorrect, which means anyone ordering should get their measurements checked in triplicate before sending it. This is the common pitfall from purchasing from an online tailor rather than say, a brick and mortar store like MJ Bale or a ready to wear vendor like Charles Tyrwhitt.

THE SPECS

The differences in prices between online tailors often comes down to the fabric, construction, fit and after sales service. Often, construction and fabric are compromised for a lower price. Wanting to test out the capabilities of Matthew Aperry, I requested wider lapels, a split waistband, side tabs instead of belt loops and a full canvassed construction where the canvas extends to the lapels, creating a nice “roll”. I also ordered a double breasted waistcoat in the same fabric, with shawl lapels. I note these options aren’t standard on either their main webpage or their aliexpress and I sent instructions and requests over email to Charlene with pictures and accompanying diagrams. I paid under $300 USD for the entire order and I could’ve easily paid three times that amount if I went somewhere else.

I opted to use their order form instead of mucking around on their website, which I think is not very good in detailing options available.

A standard order form, like many other online tailors.

A standard order form, like many other online tailors.

I selected a bright blue superfine wool from one of their books with a blue paisley lining and brown resin buttons. There are a lot of fabric options which don’t appear on their webpage. The good thing about these guys is their willingness to send out fabric swatches and samples to their customers. This is something that not many online tailors offer and there are significant advantages in having a chance to feel the fabric before ordering. The fabric is not comparable to those from named UK mills but they are excellent for the price and indeed better than the cheap wool or poly-wool blends from ready to wear stores. In my experience, they make great beater suits and don’t break the bank.

Some of the fabric choices they were happy to email me. They have three books of suiting fabrics to choose from.

Some of the fabric choices they were happy to email me. They have three books of suiting fabrics to choose from.

THE FIT

The suit arrived in a cardboard box, delivered to my office.

The suit arrived in a cardboard box, delivered to my office.

The suit arrived in a cardboard box with a wire hanger, nicely folded. I placed the order on the 20th of September and by the 8th of October, it had already arrived at my office. This is much faster than some of the competitor companies, which may take up to four weeks to fulfil their orders. I ordered a waistcoat with the suit but it appears they decided to send it separately.

Suit fit

Suit fit

The jacket was cut a little too wide in the chest and shoulders. The sleeves are slightly too long by about a centimetre, despite my instructions to the tailors. However, the trousers fit excellently and I am very pleased with the cut, which is better than some trousers I’ve paid two or three times the price for.

I believe the jacket will need a little work on future orders. I would have liked the shoulders to be about 1cm smaller on each side and the chest to be about 2cm smaller. The sleeves could have also been shortened by an extra 1cm.

A split V at the back of the trousers

A split V at the back of the trousers

It’s nice to see some of the details which I requested from the tailors. Again, these options are not available on the standard order form and I had to ask for them specifically. However, I was able to customise my lapels to 3.5 inches, request a lower buttoning point and ask for a split at the back of the trousers. The detailing is done very nicely.

The stitching behind the padded lapel. The padded lapel is not a standard option and needs to be arranged separately via email.

The stitching behind the padded lapel. The padded lapel is not a standard option and needs to be arranged separately via email.

Pick stiching on pocket

Pick stitching on pockets. I requested them to be slightly larger than usual.

Kissing buttons

Kissing buttons on the sleeves. Unfortunately, the cloth was too fine for the buttons to line up properly. The stitching is slightly messy but I cannot complain too much for the price.

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Piping detail around the pockets

The lining is made of a polyester fabric rather than a more expensive bemberg or silk which may “breathe” better but such features are often only found on suits twice the price. The wool is soft, light and ideal for an Australian summer. For under $300 USD, the fabrics that Aperry offer are an excellent value proposition.

THE VERDICT

Not for everyone, there are language barriers and potential for confusion if order is wrong. The fabric and construction is good value for the price and exceeds anything else for the price. Nobody is going to be upset if I spilled wine or steak sauce on the trousers at lunch.

While the fabric isn’t anything amazing and the fit could do with some refinement, the suit itself is very good for the price as long as you are specific with your requests and are able to communicate it to the tailors. It is always difficult to get everything right on the first try but the people at Matthew Aperry seem to work very hard to deliver a satisfactory product within a low budget and with remarkable turnaround time.

Make no mistake, this is not going to be a bespoke suit and it’s no substitute for getting measured in person by an experienced tailor and having something made specifically for you with multiple fittings. However, it occupies its own position in the hierarchy of online made to measure clothing and it certainly holds its own against competitors who charge double or triple the price for a similar or inferior quality product. Especially in Sydney where there are far and few tailoring options for cash-strapped students, graduates or people who just don’t have all that much money to spend on a suit, places like Matthew Aperry can be a good option assuming you get properly measured and you spend a little on post-delivery tailoring.

For under $300 bucks, I really find it difficult to fault this company.

They can be found at http://www.matthewaperry.com/

PS: I’ll review the waistcoat when I receive it. And no, I did not receive a free suit from this. Not at all.