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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
*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.
*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/