Fashion shopping in Hong Kong

High-end made-to-measure suits in Hong Kong go to the next level

Savile Row tailor opens its first private tailoring store in the world in city as men’s appetite for personalised service grows and more specialised shops open to cater to their needs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 March, 2017, 7:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 5:22pm

Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes opened its first private tailoring store in the world this month at The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, allowing customers to take advantage of its made-to-measure service.

“This is our fastest performing and fastest growing area of business. We believe this is driven partly by consumer trends towards customisation and personalisation,” says Gieves & Hawkes managing director Nick Keyte. “Asia is our biggest market, so Hong Kong made sense as a commercial and strategic location for our first boutique. There’s a strong business here but we want to accelerate it with our personal tailoring service.”

Since the 1950s Hong Kong businessmen have been served by tailor’s shops that can turn out a custom-made suit in 24 hours or less. That changed as men seek out more personalised tailoring, a higher level of service and international expertise. Soon the market became flooded with offerings from international specialists and established menswear brands.

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Mark Cho, co-founder of men’s haberdasher The Armoury, in Central, says: “Part of our role at The Armoury for the past six years has been reintroducing a different type of custom tailoring experience to Hong Kong. People were losing interest and we revitalised the demand by showing people how interesting and complex tailoring can be.

Customers ... are looking for something unique – that is, specifically made for them. You can’t get this with ready-to-wear, while bespoke is another level
Mark Cho

“We took suiting out of fashion, and encouraged men to buy less and buy better. With many of our customers there is now this sense they can hand down their suits to their kids, so they are looking for something unique – that is, specifically made for them.

“You can’t get this with ready-to-wear, while bespoke is another level, mainly because it takes a very long time and involves a different mindset.”

Roger Chan, co-founder of Attire House, a classic menswear boutique in Central, says: “The main difference with made-to-measure is the fit and efficiency. Certain brands and artisans are still able to impart a certain finesse to their made-to-measure creations in terms of the look and some, like Attolini, still create elements by hand. A good made-to-measure suit should feel like bespoke but because of the streamlined production process it may appear more crisp and polished. Another convenience with made-to-measure is that once they get it right, the customer can go back and make more suits within a shorter time frame.”

A high-end made-to-measure suit is an attractive option, then, thanks to the attention to detail clients receive and the convenience. As with bespoke, the process begins with an initial consultation, during which clients share their personal style preferences, lifestyle needs and requirements. After detailed measurements are taken, customers can choose from a range of fabrics and options ranging from the number of buttons to the shape of the lapel. While a bespoke suit can take up to six months to complete depending on the brand, a high-end made-to-measure suit is usually completed within six to ten weeks, with only two fittings required (bespoke can take up to four fittings).

Keyte says: “Made-to-measure is not as broad in terms of versatility compared to bespoke, which offers whatever you want whenever. It’s also not a quick-fire solution like you find on the street in Hong Kong. It’s a more considered service and proposition. The price point is also attractive – our top- level ready-to-wear suit is around HK$18,000, but entry level for our personal tailoring service is around HK$23,800.”

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A made-to-measure suit comes with added benefits. Most brands fly in staff specially for fittings (in Gieves & Hawkes’ case, they will have trained with its tailors); there are styles and silhouettes designed with the Asian customer in mind to ensure a better fit; and the range of fabrics available is big – Gieves & Hawkes offers more than 1,000 suitable for the Hong Kong climate.

At Suitsupply, a European brand which opened its doors in Hong Kong late last year, the service combines the best elements of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure. The store boasts on-site tailors as well as a made-to-measure department.

Vicki Jiang, vice-president of Suitsupply Asia, says: “The core of any suiting business is the craftsmanship and personalised tailoring experience. We are combining the finest Italian fabrics with craftsmanship and tailors that are stationed in the shop, which allows for alterations on ready-to-wear pieces while you wait. We also provide made-to-measure services; it takes as little as four weeks to deliver a suit to the customer.”

With more options available, demand for high-end made-to-measure suits in Hong Kong is expected to grow. Keyte says: “A suit is actually a great garment you can dress up or down, and is highly versatile. Because of this, more men are considering it an investment purchase and not something you will grab off the rack. Made-to-measure has massive potential to grow even further.”

Apart from Gieves & Hawkes, four places to go for a high-end made-to-measure suit

Giorgio Armani, until March 26, various boutiques (inquiries: 2532 7700)

A customer gets all the benefits of a tailor-made garment and the signature Giorgio Armani look.

Lardini, March 25-26 at Lane Crawford (inquiries: 2118 3388).

Lardini produces made-to-measure suiting for a variety of global brands, including their own in-house label. They are known for combining time-honoured Italian tailoring techniques with innovative fabrics.

Attolini at Attire House (ongoing; inquiries: 2619 9007)

A third-generation family tailor from Naples, Italy.

Orazio Luciano, 21-22 April at The Armoury (inquiries: 2804 6691)

Luciano offers classic Neopolitan tailoring, featuring soft construction, shirt shoulders, and curved pockets.