February 2014 update: This post has been re-written in to adhere to a new, standard format for Black Tie Blog garment reviews. However, my fundamental assessment of the product remains the same and the postscript has been left untouched.
- Price: excellent
- Style & Options: poor & very good
- Ordering & Customer Service: poor
- Fit: good
- Quality: poor
- Value: poor
Earlier this summer I was asked by online tailors Tailor4less if I would like a free custom tuxedo in exchange for a link and an honest review on my blog. I haven’t had much luck with discount mail-order suit makers in the past but I figured with such a generous and risky offer this Barcelona-based, China-made tailoring company must either really believe in their product or have a marketing rep who is just really ballsy. Considering how bad the product turned out to be, the rep must have some supersized cojones indeed.
Price (US $)
$239 for a tuxedo made from polyester and/or super 100s wool, $25-$50 additional for premium fabrics ranging from super 130s to super 180s. Free international shipping
Style & Options
Tailor4Less suits are available in a standard or tailored fit. There were many no-cost options to choose from including functioning buttonholes for the sleeves and, unusually, medium or long lapels. The site doesn’t indicate whether the jackets are canvased or fused construction. There is no option for grosgrain facing.
Trousers are offered with or without (single) pleats and suspender buttons are not a listed option although I was able to request them separately.
Ordering & Customer Service
The ordering procedure consists of customizing the suit and entering your measurements. The customization process was fairly straightforward if a little quirky due the use of English as a second language. However, the text is now much improved since they adopted many of my numerous recommendations and corrections. (Editorial note: since this review was first posted, even more of my initial suggestions have been adopted.) The site’s accompanying suit illustration that changes to reflect the customer’s customization choices is a very helpful feature as are the DIY video clips offered as part of the measurement process.
The matching evening waistcoat – they call it a ceremonial waistcoat - can only be ordered online as part of a three-piece evening tailcoat set (which is actually incorrect for white-tie attire). Therefore I was instructed to order a regular waistcoat online and separately e-mail details specific to the desired styling of the ceremonial waistcoat.
The e-mail customer service was friendly but very slow, quite possibly due to the time zone differences between a customer in Toronto asking questions of a rep in Spain seeking clarifications from a factory in Shanghai.
The suit arrived a shockingly quick 12 days after I placed my order but the turnaround time for replacement garments was quite a different story. The aforementioned correspondence delays and need for very specific additional measurements (along with photos) meant that my replacement jacket didn’t arrive until a full month after I first reported the issues with the original coat.
Unlike with orders from the US I had to pay import fees on each delivery (including remakes). The cost was CDN$25 each time.
In regards to ensuring the right fit, Tailor4Less policy is to either reimburse alterations done by a local tailor up to $50 or remake the garment if necessary. This sounds impressive until I realized that they do not offer refunds and that their commitment to getting the order right lags far behind their devotion to proving the customer wrong:
- When the replacement jacket arrived with facing that was different from the first and I asked for new trousers to match they refused, informing me that one jacket replacement was enough (even though I had specifically asked for trousers in order for them to save costs)
- Although I had ordered one pair of flat front trousers and one pair of pleated they sent me two pairs of the latter. They steadfastly insisted that only one pair was pleated while the other just had an ironed crease, even when I sent the photos below as evidence. (Not surprisingly, they declined to indicate which was which.)
- Similarly, they insisted that the tarted-up business suit vest I received was in fact exactly what I ordered online, ignoring the custom instructions I had e-mailed as requested (such as the lapels widening from 1 ½” at the top to 2 ½” at the bottom) and the garment’s total lack of resemblance to the “ceremonial” waistcoat illustrated on their site.
The suit generally fit well, certainly better than I was expecting considering the cost. (I would naturally expect minor alterations to be necessary with any mail-order custom tailored suit.)
The pros: The fabric – described as super 100s wool – was genuinely midnight blue and seemed to be of decent quality, particularly for that price point.
The cons: where do I start?
- at 450g (13.3 oz) the midnight-blue material was the heaviest fabric they carried yet they classified it as “year round”, a category that included weights as light as 280g (for the record, the generally recommended weight for year-round suits is 300-340g or 9-10 oz)
- the jacket was comically short – 1.5″ shorter than my other tailored jackets; I thought that leaving the trouser seat half exposed may have been a deliberate fashion-forward style but the illustrations on their web site show their suit jackets completely covering the seat, just as my other made-to-measure jackets do
- the lapel roll stopped well above the front button (as depicted on the Web site) which made the button appear oddly disconnected from the rest of the jacket
- the lapels are very narrow (as depicted on the Web site) which guarantees the suit style will become outmoded within a few years
- the interlining in the front of the jacket was extremely stiff, to the point where it was almost impossible to steam out the folds created during the packing & shipping process
- although the facing had an interesting subtle texture (it may actually have been faille) it was very thick and stiff
- the collar was faced when it shouldn’t have been
- the trouser trim was poorly sewn resulting in very visible puckering
- the trousers had a covered button for the rear pocket (instead of the usual plastic button) and for the front waistband (instead of the usual clasp) resulting in unnecessary bulk
I sent photos of the short jacket and they agreed to remake it. This time around they asked me to indicate the length of one of my existing jackets. (In my opinion they really should have asked for this comparison measurement up front. Instead, they base the jacket length solely on the distance from the shoulder line to the middle of the thumb which none of my local tailors do.)
The replacement jacket didn’t fare much better than the original. The upside was that it was a more suitable length and had a proper self-faced collar as per my instructions. And surprisingly, despite my not commenting on the stiffness of the jacket, the remake had a much more pliable interlining and also a thinner, more refined lapel facing that allowed the lapel to roll properly
The downsides were once again numerous:
- the fit was not as good as the original, the sleeve heads were poorly constructed and the pocket openings were wrinkled from being sewn too tightly
- although I took this opportunity to request that the lapels be 1 cm wider than previously and was assured this was no problem, the lapels on the replacement jacket were actually narrower than on the original
- as nice as the new lapel facing was, it no longer matched the facing on the trousers as it was noticeably blacker and shinier
As I previously mentioned, Tailor4Less refused to provide new trousers to match the replacement jacket’s facings or correct the puckered stripe. In fact, they did not even deign to acknowledge my complaint about the latter.
I have to say I really wanted this suit to be a success. Besides the obvious benefit of gaining a complementary tuxedo for myself I wanted to be able to tell my readers I had found a very affordable source of classically styled and decently tailored evening wear, an extremely rare combination these days. Thus I provided the company with plenty of patient instruction and plenty of opportunities to follow that instruction. Unfortunately they turned down most of these opportunities leaving me with mismatched jackets, shoddily trimmed trousers and a comically incorrect waistcoat all of which are unusable.
While my only investment was $50 in import fees and my valuable time, if I was a paying customer I would have been livid. As I learned long ago, a tempting deep discount can just as easily result in lost money as saved money. Yes, their $239 tuxedo is less than a quarter of the price of a locally-tailored equivalent but if it ends up in the garbage then that’s still $239 gone up in smoke.
September 24, 2012
Two and a half weeks after my post I received an official response from Customer Service. In the interest of balanced reporting, here’s what they had to say:
- they are always working to improve their translations
- their response time is 24-48 hours regardless of the customer’s location and allows for the fact they don’t work on weekends (even though I actually waited six days for an answer once)
- material samples can be provided upon request so that customers can be sure of their fabric choice before placing their order (they misunderstood that my complaint was not about the quality of the fabric but about the incorrect categorization of its weight)
- remakes takes longer to construct than original garments and customers are informed of this “in the first communication”
- Tailor4Less will reimburse up to 20% of import fees and provide the value of the remainder in credit
- they pointed out that the first jacket length was made to my specifications (in fact, as noted above, I just gave them the measurements they asked for in the order form – it was their decision to use those particular measurements to determine jacket length that I have a problem with)
- they are sticking to their claim that only one pair of pants is pleated and the other is ironed; they also reminded me yet again that I was actually only entitled to one pair of pants as part of this review process
- they finally admitted the waistcoat they provided was not what I ordered and offered to remake it
They concluded by telling me I should take into account the fact that they have a 98% customer satisfaction rate. I didn’t bother asking them for the data behind this claim just as I won’t bother to order a replacement waistcoat. Their failure to truly understand many of my complaints, their ongoing silence regarding the poor workmanship and inconsistent standards and their inability to differentiate between something as simple as a pleat and a crease make it clear that they view most of my issues as my problem, not theirs.