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