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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've searched all over the forum and can't seem to find any threads on where one would go (either online or local - which is Long Island/NYC) to buy fabrics for suits.

My tailor can make me a suit but he says he doesn't have access to fabrics; I have to get the fabric I want, and he will make the suit. He told me the price for the suit won't change, whether the fabric I get is very expensive, or very cheap. He quoted me $3000, a bit more if I want a vest. What are your opinions about this?

Subsequently, I have no idea what the price ranges are for fabrics, (doing a brief bit of research on Vicuna tells me the price can be anywhere from $3000 to $4000 a yard - ah yeah, not going to happen:crazy:) or where is a good place to go. Is it better to walk into a place to feel the fabric, to see if I like it? (I'm thinking yes?) I haven't looked in my local directories yet since I thought I'd ask you guys for your good advice, first.

I understand that I am going to have to save up for the quote plus the price of the fabric, so I want to be prepared to make an informed decision.

Also, how much fabric (in yards?) does one need to buy to make one suit? I'm thinking of an answer like "It depends on how big and tall you are?". If it helps, I'm about 5' 10", with a 44" chest, and a 33" waist, and weigh 175lbs, roughly 9% bodyfat. (I have no idea if that is relevant at all but...)

If there are threads galore on this subject, my sincere apologies up front, but I didn't see any threads when I did a search.:(

Philip
 

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My tailor can make me a suit but he says he doesn't have access to fabrics; I have to get the fabric I want, and he will make the suit.
That is the first time I have heard that. Is there a particular reason, he cannot get the fabric.

Secondly, have you considered getting a made-to-measure suit made from a bespoke house. $3k (about £2k) is quite a long to ask for, taking into account a Steed bespoke suit (including material) starts less then that and a Dege & Skinner bespoke starts at about £2.5k.

As for the cost per yard, where did you get those figures from.
"How much would you expect to pay for a nice worsted in the US? I bought some suiting wool for $50/yard in San Francisco...a small fortune for me... I have also bought wool that I thought was quite nice for less than $20/yard."
taken from - go right to the bottom
 

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If I were you, I would have your suit made by someone that can provide a bit more guidance...to charge you $3000 for labor but tell you that you are on your own to find fabric seems a bit odd to me...

Regarding how much you will need depends greatly on the tailor or factory you are having your suit made...it also depends on if the suit is a solid, stripe or pattern...for example one place might need 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 yards while another might need 4 - 4 1/8 yards of the same fabric...when you are looking at goods that are several hundred dollars a yard or more, that adds up...

Also, if you are having a suit made in the $3000+ range I would assume you would want it made using a fabric from one of the big fabric houses (Holland & Sherry, Dormeuil, Loro Piana, Scabal, Zegna, etc)...you are not going to walk into a random fabric store and find these fabrics nor are you going to want to make a $3000+ suit using $50/yard fabric...a good tailor is going to talk to you about your lifestyle, where you will be wearing the suit, your likes and dislikes, etc and help select a fabric that suits you... (no pun intended :))

Finally, unless you know specifically which fabric you are looking for I would NOT buy fabric online...when I say specifically, I am talking about the mill as well as the collection...
 

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Yes, there are tailors who do not provide fabrics, but they would mostly be in a lower price range. $3000 is quite expensive for CMT, even in LI, so for that kind of money you better do your homework.
Recommended fabric stores in the city would be Tip Top (Brooklyn) and Beckenstein (or fabric Czar) in Manhattan:
www.fabricczar.com/
You are correct, it is always better to feel the fabric in your hands before choosing it. In those places you can see, select and even find some bargains. It takes about 3.5-4 yards for a suit, depending on the fabric and if you order extras, like a vest.
 

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Tip Top is recommended.

Years ago when I tried the Fabric Czar in person...and then tried to make orders through the phone...he was unccoperative and I never used him again...besides he was pushing Scabal aggresively

Some tailors don't have accounts with the big named places

Most reputable (even if they are not natoinally) tailors do have accounts

Some mills sell directly to clients (but this is frowned upon by tailors...some of whom add an upcharge when they include it in the final price of your suit

The few mills who do directly sell it to consumers charge you a higher price by about 30%. $113 to the tailor or $154 to you

FoxFlannel's web site sells cloth directly to you

Tip Top has great fabric..usually end bolts...at $50 per yard. Some have been so so...others, contrary to what Wardrobe Girl stated...where great bargains and solid clothes at $50 per yard

WG is right about how much to order. Some tailors require 5 yards for a 3 piece suit (on an averaged size person)...another tailor, based on the complexity of the cloths pattern...might ask for 6 to 6.5 yards

I'm tall and well fed and prefer to make a 4 piece suit (extra trouser) when using flannel. I tend to order 8 to 9 meters at a time (keep in mind my tailor is in his early 70s....hope this helps
 

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I stand corrected...I forgot about bolt ends :) ...those are great deals, but it is still important you know what you are looking for...just because the color/pattern works for you doesn't mean the fabric itself will perform the way you need...for example, a guy that is a bit harder on his clothes, I would never recommend something like a super 150s cloth...
 

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I stand corrected...I forgot about bolt ends :) ...those are great deals, but it is still important you know what you are looking for...just because the color/pattern works for you doesn't mean the fabric itself will perform the way you need...for example, a guy that is a bit harder on his clothes, I would never recommend something like a super 150s cloth...
I think Tip Top would be a difficult place to navigate for someone with limited knowledge and experience.

Actually, there are a great many questions beyond color, design and whether someone is hard on his clothes that should be considered, including the intended wear, the climate and seasonal use, the fiber content, the weight, the weave, hand, how the fabric drapes, how it holds its shape, how easily it is to wrinkle, how challenging it is to tailor, how it would relate to other items in the gentleman's wardrobe, and of course price. Choosing a fabric can be a pretty iffy proposition without some knowledge, guidance, or answers to these questions. Tip Top is not the ideal place to find this support. And I am a bit surprised that the OP's tailor did not give him some advice or at least things to think about as he sent him off on his fabric quest.
 

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It was neither obvious nor helpful. If you wanted to suggest that his current tailor was deficient, you should have pointed that out and why. I assume that his tailor's shortcomings obviously were not self-evident to the OP or he would never have posted his original question...he simply would have found another suitmaker.

Consequently: To the OP: For what it is worth, different individuals look for different things in a tailor: experience, style, price, proximity, etc. For me, one of the important aspects has been being able to develop a relationship and to get their guidance as we engage in different projects. That they have access to some wonderful fabrics (some unique to them) and are willing to discuss the relative merits of them with me has helped maintain this relationship for many years. I think this is particularly important as one is just beginning on the bespoke journey. If you have other reasons you really want to take your trade to this particular suitmaker, then do not hesitate to ask for his advice as to the most suitable fabrics for the suit you are going to be commissioning. If he is unable or unwilling to provide that, you need to weigh that very carefully..both in terms of your relationship and in terms of the risk you may be taking that the final product not meet your needs and expectations beacuse of your fabric choice. As has been suggested, he may indeed not be the right tailor for you. Keep in mind that many established tailors not only have access to a large range of fabrics, but also maintain fabric books containing swatches from many mills. As you suggest, seeing and feeling a piece of cloth is far more valuable than seeing a picture or reading about it. So is understanding its properties. None of that is self-evident to most clients nor do any tailors I know expect that their customers would have this understanding of cloth. On the other hand, not all tailors do supply cloth or maintain such samples. Some of them are very fine craftsmen; but whether they best meet a novice's needs may well depend of how strong the communication is between the two. In the end, selecting the right tailor is every bit as important -- indeed more so -- than selecting the right suit.
 

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If you are going to spend that much money for a suit made
by a tailor who cannot source fabric, I respectfully suggest you
see a finished suit made by that tailor and worn by a client who
commissioned it.

It's hard to imagine clients who can afford $3K - $4K suits
having to source their own material unless this tailor is
a VERY, VERY special artisan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Cruiser, Wardrobe Girl, Mr. Chatterbox, Medwards, et al;
Thank you again for your input. None was misunderstood, and has helped me to think.

First, a bit of background:

I haven't had a suit made by my tailor (his name is Adnan, he is Turkish; nice guy, a bit hard to understand sometimes, but nice) but he does good work for the things that I bring to him to have altered. He does what I ask, and I feel he is somewhat of a perfectionist with his work in that regard. That said, I don't feel our relationship is as close as it probably should be according to most of you, but keep in mind I haven't been going to him for that long, maybe a year? Am I correct in saying that simple to not-so-simple alterations may be a horse of a different color when compared to having a suit constructed from the ground up? I did ask and he hasn't done a suit in a while; I will try to dig a little deeper on this. Thus, it does make me think, but it's probably too early to tell, the fact that he does not supply fabrics, but he still may be great at building a suit. I don't know of anyone who he has made one for, or how I would be able to contact them for feedback (which would be good to do...) which is part of my frustration. With all of the above said, I am not bound by him, and would have no regrets (other than the feeling of starting from square one) to going to another tailor, especially if that means finding another good tailor as an option. Unfortunately, other than word-of-mouth, I am not aware of many custom tailors on Long Island. Most tailors (and I have to admit I haven't spoken to them all obviously) tell me that a lot of tailors don't do custom clothing anymore because the demand isn't there so it isn't worth their time to do it anymore. I'm not sure how I feel about going into NYC; the going back and forth is a pain (and expensive with fares going up again); on the other hand, it's a process that won't last forever - but which tailor to go to? On a somewhat positive note, my wife informed me today of a tailor who comes into the P.O. where she works and says he is very nice and does custom work in the neighborhood. I plan on meeting with him as soon as I can and ask him all the questions that I think I've learned from you guys to ask (any tips or requisite questions I should ask, please feel free, I can and will make up a list to drill him with, like "do you have fabrics?" :icon_smile_big:)

I agree about the fabrics and ones knowledge; I don't think I would be comfortable, on my own going into a store to try to figure out which fabrics to purchase - maybe in a few experienced years? At this point I would be more at ease to allow the tailor to guide me toward my options and how they would best fit me.

I'm surprised that some of you thought $3000 was too much to ask for a bespoke suit, even with the added cost of fabric (say $100 a yard, 4 yards for a suit; $400, total $3400) I thought that was pretty conservative, considering some folks feel that $5-7 grand can be considered average. For me, that is just too much money, but 3400 I can save up for, and, I felt if it is being done all by hand, from measuring to cutting to finishing, that was not a bad deal, even if his skills were average. Am I missing something? :icon_pale: I am aware that the range is pretty wide when it comes to bespoke and MTM, and I am certainly interested, as they say, in "the best bang for my buck".

I think what I am going to do next is talk with this tailor my wife informed me of and compare him to Adnan.

You guys get your questions ready for me to ask, mmmkay? :icon_smile_big:

Again,

Thank you very very much.

Philip

P.S. I hope I didn't insult anyone with the pricing part of this post. After reading a lot of threads on bespoke prices (The Debate) I know it can get heated around here when it comes to how much is too much, I try to glean what I can from all of you. I can only hope one day someone here will take away something useful from me. Probably not. Heheh:eek:
 

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Mr. Chatterbox, I usually agree with your opinions and like the way that youpresent them. I often do not agree with Cruisor's opinions, although I do not get into debates with him. In your post above, I thought you were a tad rough on him. Just MHO.

Fairlane, I have never had a bespoke suit made, but I do have about a half dozen suits and a few sports coats and blazers that I had MTM. That is more than I really need as I am retired and So Calif is pretty casual.

I like MTM because I get a garment that fits, and I am a hard fit, and I also get all the Trad details that I like that are not available RTW in this part of the country. A few of my garments were made by Hickey Freeman and the majority by Samualsohn. At times I am a bit envious of the prices that people pay for RTW, especially when I am having something like a seersucker jacket made, but I am generally pleased with the price/value of all of these garments. The makers are not the very top of the line, but I think they are regarded for reasonable quality.

I wonder if you might consider MTM as the cost should be around one half of the amount that you are talking about for bespoke. If MTM will not suit your needs, then others here can provide better advice on the bespoke process than I can, but speaking as a lay person, I would be very nervous about the situation with the tailor that you describe.

If I were to commission a bespoke suit, I would want it to be from a tailor whose work at making suits I had seen, who spends, if not all, at least most, of his time making bespoke suits, who can provide references of some sort, and who can supply the cloth. It is a considerable sum of money, at least to me, to not have this kind of a comfort zone. I hope you will excuse me for being so verbose when this paragraph pretty well sums up the point that I wanted to make.

Cheers, Jim.
 

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I'm surprised that some of you thought $3000 was too much to ask for a bespoke suit, even with the added cost of fabric (say $100 a yard, 4 yards for a suit; $400, total $3400) I thought that was pretty conservative, considering some folks feel that $5-7 grand can be considered average. Again,
With the dollar returned to a more "normal" trading range, $3,000 is the approximate price of a suit including cloth from a respected Savile Row tailor. Not the most expensive, but not the least either.

No need to pay more for anyone without a reputation unless you want to.
 

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1. Am I correct in saying that simple to not-so-simple alterations may be a horse of a different color when compared to having a suit constructed from the ground up?

2. I did ask and he hasn't done a suit in a while;

3. I don't know of anyone who he has made one for,
1. Night and day. You don't even know if he can cut.

2. Or ever? This is obviously not this man's business.

3. There's probably a good reason for that.

Plus $3K without fabric!

I hope he is a wonderful fellow, but there's no way I would consider asking him to make me a suit.

Considering your physical description, if I were you, I would work with a good MTM program. Much less money, and if properly fitted, it should look great on you. While a wonderful bespoke suit will always be best, all bespoke suits are not wonderful, and a fine MTM may well be much better than anything this tailor could make.
 

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I haven't had a suit made by my tailor (his name is Adnan, he is Turkish; nice guy, a bit hard to understand sometimes, but nice) but he does good work for the things that I bring to him to have altered. He does what I ask, and I feel he is somewhat of a perfectionist with his work in that regard. That said, I don't feel our relationship is as close as it probably should be according to most of you, but keep in mind I haven't been going to him for that long, maybe a year? Am I correct in saying that simple to not-so-simple alterations may be a horse of a different color when compared to having a suit constructed from the ground up? I did ask and he hasn't done a suit in a while; I will try to dig a little deeper on this. Thus, it does make me think, but it's probably too early to tell, the fact that he does not supply fabrics, but he still may be great at building a suit. I don't know of anyone who he has made one for, or how I would be able to contact them for feedback (which would be good to do...) which is part of my frustration.
As you surmise, being a good alterations tailor does not mean one is able to craft a quality suit. The best bespoke tailors spend years developing their skills. They must master not only sewing and tailoring skills but must develop an understanding of human anatomy and movement; perfect their eye toward form, style, and fit; learn how to draft and cut a pattern; understand about the characteristics and how to work with different fabrics; and master construction skills that an alterations tailor would never use. Moreover, even experienced bespoke tailors are not adept at all styles, sihouettes, and constructions. As in virtually all things, one learns -- and improves -- by doing. Even working with talented craftsmen is not enough to assure that an alterations tailor will pick up the requisite skills. A while back there was much discussion on this board about a very well known and experienced Savile Row alterations tailor (who worked for a very established tailoring firm with some outstanding bespoke tailors and who personally served some very noteworthy clients) who set up his own shop only to have many patrons severely disappointed because of his work and business practices. That is not to say your tailor is not capable of making a good suit; you just don't know. Which means that there is a very high risk that he will not be able to meet your satisfaction or that the process might take considerable effort and adjustment to get the suit right.

With all of the above said, I am not bound by him, and would have no regrets (other than the feeling of starting from square one) to going to another tailor, especially if that means finding another good tailor as an option. Unfortunately, other than word-of-mouth, I am not aware of many custom tailors on Long Island. Most tailors (and I have to admit I haven't spoken to them all obviously) tell me that a lot of tailors don't do custom clothing anymore because the demand isn't there so it isn't worth their time to do it anymore. I'm not sure how I feel about going into NYC; the going back and forth is a pain (and expensive with fares going up again); on the other hand, it's a process that won't last forever - but which tailor to go to? On a somewhat positive note, my wife informed me today of a tailor who comes into the P.O. where she works and says he is very nice and does custom work in the neighborhood. I plan on meeting with him as soon as I can and ask him all the questions that I think I've learned from you guys to ask (any tips or requisite questions I should ask, please feel free, I can and will make up a list to drill him with, like "do you have fabrics?" :icon_smile_big:)
As has been suggested by Will, a number of very well established British tailors travel to New York with some frequency and with the dollar at its present point, they may well be worth exploring. There are many threads about these craftsmen. The subforum on Visiting Artisan's Itineraries can give you an idea about some of their travels to the New York area. There is also a thread about US custom tailors that you can find here:

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=65059

I am aso taking the liberty of starting a separate thread to gather suggestions for a custom tailor on or accessible to Long Island. I hope that helps.

I agree about the fabrics and ones knowledge; I don't think I would be comfortable, on my own going into a store to try to figure out which fabrics to purchase - maybe in a few experienced years? At this point I would be more at ease to allow the tailor to guide me toward my options and how they would best fit me.
And I don't believe a customer should have to master that knowledge. Certainly there are members of this Forum who have done so and have enjoyed the experience and the understanding it has afforded them, but most customers simply want a well-crafted suit that meets their needs and preferences and to be guided through this process by a knowing and responsive professional.

I'm surprised that some of you thought $3000 was too much to ask for a bespoke suit, even with the added cost of fabric (say $100 a yard, 4 yards for a suit; $400, total $3400) I thought that was pretty conservative, considering some folks feel that $5-7 grand can be considered average. For me, that is just too much money, but 3400 I can save up for, and, I felt if it is being done all by hand, from measuring to cutting to finishing, that was not a bad deal, even if his skills were average. Am I missing something? :icon_pale: I am aware that the range is pretty wide when it comes to bespoke and MTM, and I am certainly interested, as they say, in "the best bang for my buck".
No, $3000 is not an unexpected price for a bespoke suit. Many tailors charge a great deal more; some a bit less. The question is what one gets for his money and how much of a risk you are willing to take.

This is obviously a special purchase for you. And it is a considerable investment. You are well served by taking your time, asking all the questions that come to mind, and explore all your options.

Good luck.
 

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I used a CMT (cut, make, and trim tailor) for about 10 years until he retired. Even though his business was small and had dwindeled, he always had at least 12 or 15 books of fine fabric in his shop from mercers such as Scabal and other reputable firms. And while I had no serious intention of sourcing my own fabric, I was curious about what would happen if I stumbled across some I fell in love with. He was able to quote me a price for a 2-pc suit, and tell me within a half yard how much fabric would be needed to cut it. Since he did the cutting, had my measurements and had been making suits, etc. for me, that is to be expected. How could a tailor suggest sourcing your own fabric, and not tell you how much was needed?
 

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The bummer with using a visiting English tailor is that even if he makes 4 visits to New York per year to provide fittings, it may take a full year to receive a finished suit

Considering an abundance of bespoke (both Savile Row and Italian trained tailors) options based in New York...why use them?

Some of these tailors have excellent reputations and build great products to back them up....but unless your town has a limited range of bespoke tailors...I can't see why one would use an English tailor

You then have the currency dilema. Do you pay them up front now that the pound has fallen considerably...or do you gamble it will fall even more later and only pay a deposit now...or risk getting burned if the pound rockets back up again?

I have never paid $3400 for a suit. I considered it recently when exploring using Caraceni in Rome or Cifonelli in Paris, but reality set it...along with the excellent advice given by other members
 
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