The last time I had a suit commissioned was back in January 2011. Back then my knowledge of tailoring was still in its infancy. I’ve read more books, forums and blog posts since then and I can now say I am better equipped at commissioning another suit.
A few months ago my Menswear Syndicate friend Victor Basa had a suit made by Kingsmen Custom Tailors. I was impressed with the results and resolved that they would make my next suit. This time around I wanted to have a charcoal grey suit. I bought the cloth separately and brought it to Kingsmen’s Podium branch. They charge Php 8,050 (USD ~190) for CMT (cut, make, trim) or the process of transforming the cloth into a suit as of this writing.
I wore an unstructured sport coat when I had my measurements taken. I wanted the suit cut close to the body but drape well. I specified my jacket length to be 29.5″. Shoulders with minimal padding. Three-inch wide notch lapels with a high notch. Side vents.
For the trousers I requested single reverse pleats, two-inch cuffs. Knee opening at 9.5″. Leg opening at 8.5″.
I went in for my first fitting two weeks after my measurements were taken. There was noticeable bunching behind neck. The shoulder width was spot on; not wide. I added waist suppression to give shape to the jacket. The sleeve pitch was correct. The trousers had to be shortened by a few inches.
I was disappointed with the fullness of the shoulder padding but I believe this is what happens when tailors use, I assume, pre-made shoulder pads. And I didn’t mind that much because I would be wearing this to occasions which need a formal look.
The necessary changes were made but the trousers had to be shortened by another half an inch. I still noticed some small lines at the back of the neck but I decided against sending it back again.
When I sit down the jacket stays in place and does not rise up; clearly a sign that it fits better than most jackets I’ve seen made by tailors here.
I’ve worn the suit twice before writing this and I only have one problem with the fit: the shoulders and upper back should have extra drape for comfort. We are not mannequins that always stand upright. Sometimes we hunch forward or relax our pose.
Style and Construction
In terms of styling I would have preferred a higher notch, the lapel to actually have a working buttonhole, and cuffs that split open even without working buttonholes. They also did not finish the other corner of the pocket flaps properly. I also wished they used a lighter canvas to make the jacket light-weight and more comfortable.
The construction is similar to other fused suits. The quality is better compared to jackets that cost less than half but only by a small margin. Much of what you pay for goes to the overhead of maintaining staff and convenient, comfortable locations.
The fundamental problem with Kingsmen is that the changes are relayed to the workshop. Tailors do not actually see how the jacket wears on me so the minute changes that sometimes make a huge impact were probably not identified and corrected. The fact that it mass produces suits means certain kinds of customisation is not possible.
The staff at Kingsmen are old (at least at the Podium branch) so they will balk at anything they feel not comfortable with or not used to doing. On the upside this attitude keeps the overall look classic and understated. Nevertheless it’s still good to know more than what the average guy knows about tailoring to push the staff at Kingsmen in the right direction. Their role is to keep you from going to extremes which is a good thing.
It helps to have some knowledge when commissioning a suit to get the most out of what you’re paying for. In my case I knew exactly what I wanted, had acquired knowledge and experience working with different tailors that all contributed to a relatively satisfactory outcome. Kingsmen did a good job with my suit but somehow I feel that this might be an exception and not the rule.
Suit by Kingsmen Custom Tailors. Shirt by Massimo Dutti. Tie by Rubinacci.