In the past few years, a huge number of online made-to-measure clothing stores have popped up. They all have a similar business model.
- Use a computer algorithm to get tailored clothing measurements from a few simple body measurements.
- Utilize programmable machines to cut the fabric to the right measurements for the customer.
- Utilize cheap labor to assemble the clothing.
- Ship to the customer.
Basically, when you order made-to-measure, you're supposed to end up with a suit (or shirt, trousers, etc.) that costs the same as a regular suit off the rack, but fits better and saves you the cost and hassle of alterations. You also get to customize little details like how you want the lapels and pockets to look. Some websites claim to sell bespoke clothing, though this is a lie. Bespoke clothing is custom clothing that is handmade by a master tailor with you as the model (rather than some "standard"). There are intermediate fittings involved to ensure that the finished product is perfect. Made-to-measure clothing on the other hand starts with a standard pattern. Before the fabric is cut, some of the standard measurements are tweaked a little based on a few of the customer's body measurements. There are no fittings involved, but the final product should fit relatively well.
The main drawbacks of these online made-to-measure services are that you lose the in-store experience. You can't feel fabrics or look at various outfit combinations like in a regular store. If you're not knowledgeable about men's fashion, the staff at menswear stores can be helpful. Furthermore, a large number of these online stores don't have a phone number you can call. Not having a phone number can make things difficult and frustrating for unsatisfied customers. It's a bit sketchy for a company not to stand behind it's product with a good system for customer service.
Tailor4Less (T4L) is one that stood out because they seem to offer some of the lowest prices and appear to be pretty popular. Most reviews are favourable, though there are a few scathing ones. Unfortunately, I can't find any positive reviews concerning their customer service. This is alarming because good customer service is important to any successful business. Some of the most valuable reviews are from people who had their problems resolved by good customer service. Most detailed reviews seem to agree that the overall fit is not truly perfect, but respectable considering the price. Of the complaints that I've found, they're usually regarding the quality of the fabric or construction. Have a look at some reviews for yourself:
When researching a business, it's important to keep in mind that a few angry customers doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad company to deal with. Anyone who's dealt with customers before can tell you that some people are simply irrational. I suspect that the majority of dissatisfied customers were people expecting too much, hoping to get something for nothing. Regarding fabric, T4L doesn't claim to sell top-quality fabrics (though it looks like the website might be deliberately misleading). Don't look at the S number alone, as this is only one important thing to consider when choosing a fabric. Pay attention to thread count, fabric weight, and fabric composition. You'll see that most of the fabrics offered by T4L are representative of typical inexpensive clothing. Regarding construction, T4L doesn't explicitly tell you, but it's safe to say that for the price they're asking, you're getting the cheapest construction available. The means no canvassing, no collar stays (or cheap flimsy ones), etc. Don't expect more for these modest prices. Nobody's going to waste high quality fabrics or extra labour for careful handmade construction on clothes this cheap.
That said, a few disappointed customers have put together a website dedicated to warning people. T4L doesn't have a phone number, so if they choose to ignore you, you have no way of getting any customer service. Some people report that T4L will get bad reviews deleted, which can be done even on websites like TrustPilot if you don't agree to the terms to allow them to verify that you're an actual T4L customer.
T4L also appears to be a cooperative of companies based all over the world. The website's registered in France, owned and managed by a company in Switzerland, yet protected and operated in accordance with Spanish law. T4L appears to have two headquarters, one in Barcelona, Spain and the other in Shanghai, China. It seems that all this allows them to get away with shady business practices like:
- No refund policy.
- No clothing labels. In many countries, including Canada, the law requires garments to have labels disclosing the fabric's composition, country of origin, and care instructions.
|Actual satisfaction considerably less than 100%. Garments can be remade after you pay for the extra shipping costs.|
Update: Links to Part 2 and Part 3