Review: Indochino Tuxedo

Posted on August 6, 2014

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Overall Rating:

  • Price: good
  • Style & Options: good
  • Ordering & Customer Service: excellent
  • Fit: very good
  • Quality: (pending)

Vancouver-based, Shanghai-made online tailors Indochino have been in business since 2007, making them veterans in this relatively young industry.  They were founded by two university classmates frustrated at the lack of quality suits available at affordable prices.  The fact that the company has grown to over 100 employees today suggests that Indochino has successfully at filled this niche, although CEO Kyle Vucko points out there’s always more to learn.  That’s particularly true in their tuxedo department.

Price (US $)

A two-piece tuxedo in standard fabric is $449 while one in premium fabric will cost you $649.  Shipping to most countries is free.

Styles & Options

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Indochino’s style is on the contemporary side with a trim fit and shorter jackets.  Suits are offered in an “essential” fabric line which is super 100s or 120s wool, and a “premium” line consisting of a super 140s wool, cashmere and/or silk blend.  While the choice of fabric impacts a suit’s cost, all other tuxedo options are free:

  • colour can be black or midnight blue although the latter is available only in the premium line
  • single-breasted models are customizable with one, two or three buttons and a six-button double-breasted model is also available
  • lapels can be peak (regular or wide), shawl (regular only) and notch (regular or slim)
  • lapels can be faced entirely or just have trimmed edges (this must be requested separately)
  • jackets can have one, two or no vents
  • sleeve buttonholes can be functional if desired
  • pocket openings can be angled or horizontal
  • jacket linings come in an assortment of colours
  • trousers can have one or no pleats
  • suspenders and side tabs are available for trousers

Note that tuxedo facings are available only in satin (no grosgrain) and Indochino does not offer a traditional low-cut evening waistcoat.

Ordering & Customer Service

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I found the ordering process to be excellent and the customer service very friendly but with a total of 12 weeks spent waiting for various items to be made or re-made, this is definitely not a “30-minutes or it’s free” service.

The process begins with ordering up to 16 fabric samples although if you’re opting for black there’s not much need for this step.  This ‘Tailor’s Kit’ cost $30 which is deducted from your final order and also includes six lining samples, two tape measures, and an interlining and button sample.  (No sign of a partridge in a pear tree.)  Note that the method in which the swatches are mounted in the kit hides about half of the fabric so I recommend unmounting them so you can get a true sense of their hand (i.e. how a fabric feels to the touch).  My kit was delivered to Toronto in two weeks.

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Once you’ve chosen your fabric it’s time to place the order online.

When it comes to the measuring process, Indochino has the most thorough instructions I’ve encountered so far.  I’m impressed with the fact that watching the step-by-step DIY videos is not optional (unlike other similar’ sites) and that there are very practical tips provided to help ensure accurate measurements such as standing naturally and removing the contents of your pockets.

As for the suit customization process, it begins on a low note as the site’s photos of tuxedos models don’t show them at their best.  They depict only two-button fronts, flap pockets, and regular vests as if a tuxedo was no more than a tarted-up business suit.  Furthermore, the midnight-blue two-piece is shown only with trimmed lapels leaving buyers with the impression that fully-faced lapels aren’t an option.  In fact, regular lapel facings – or any other special request – can be submitted by online form or email.  I always prefer the latter when placing online orders so that I can maintain a record of the correspondence in case of a misunderstanding later on.  In my case, I made a special request for the full lapel facing as well as a jacket length long enough to cover most of my seat.  Indochino responded that they would makes the jacket two inches longer than usual.

The tuxedo arrived just under four weeks later.  The jacket was fine but the trousers had a waist that was much too large (my fault) and suspender buttons that were incorrectly positioned (not my fault).  Since they had to remake the trousers anyway, I asked that the bizarre side tabs be omitted the next time around.   Two and a half weeks later the remade trousers arrived with the correct waist size but once again with incorrectly positioned suspender buttons and the wacky side tabs.  Just over four weeks later the second trouser remake was delivered and everything was good to go.

Fit

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My suit customization included midnight-blue fabric, wide lapel style, and a longer jacket.

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My trousers have single pleats and suspender buttons.

I was very pleased with the jacket fit.   In fact, it is the first online tailored jacket I’ve ever received that didn’t require a remake.  And other than my inaccurately measured waist, the trousers fit very well too.  The contemporary cut gave the suit (and its ageing wearer) a youthful look without the skin-tight fit and hip-height waistline that have been popular with gullible fashionistas recently.  Of course, without the requested longer jacket length the overall results wouldn’t have been so balanced.

Quality

Black fabric from the basic ‘Essential’ line is a super 120s wool (although the swatch says Super100s).  The ‘Premium’ black is a super 140s mix of 88% wool, 6% cashmere and 6% silk while the midnight blue version is a super 140s blend of 95% wool and 5% cashmere.  The weight of the fabrics is 8oz (275gsm).

In order to compare the quality of the two levels of fabric offered, I ordered an extra pair of black tuxedo trousers from the Essential line along with my midnight-blue tuxedo from the Premium selection.  I found that the Premium fabric had a very soft hand while the feel of the Essential was not quite so refined.  The latter also had noticeably more sheen to it.   Both fabrics, however, have good wrinkle resistance.

Example of shiny spots in fused portions of the jacket.

Example of shiny spots in fused portions of the jacket.

The jacket is half-canvassed and seems to be constructed well in general with one major exception: shiny spots showing in areas constructed with fused interlining.  I brought the jacket to Indochino’s new store in Toronto (see following) and they suggested this flaw may be due to excessive pressure when the jacket was pressed during the tailoring process.  They are now in the process of making a replacement jacket.

A number of other flaws can be chalked up to a rookie understanding of authentic formal attire.

First, the midnight blue fabric is in fact navy blue.  I took the opportunity to explain the difference to the CEO when he visited Toronto and based on how genuinely interested he seems to be in improving the company’s offerings hopefully this shortcoming will be corrected in the future.  In the meantime, I have asked that my replacement tuxedo be black.

Secondly, Indochino’s tuxedo collars are faced in satin for no particular reason, something I didn’t realize until after my order had arrived.  I have been informed that a proper self-faced collar can be specially requested which is exactly what I have done for my remake.

In a similar vein, the suspender buttons were not positioned correctly which meant the trousers didn’t hang properly.  Considering the young demographic targeted by online tailors in general, I assume that requests for suspender buttons are very rare and customers with a knowledge of such buttons’ workings are even rarer.   As mentioned, I informed Indochino of the proper positioning which they accommodated in the replacement trousers.

Last in the list of beginner mistakes was the outseam trim that was not sewn properly on the first trousers, resulting in puckering and rippling.  I pointed this out when requesting the trouser remake and as a result the trim construction was much better in the replacement.

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From a purely stylistic perspective, I find that the wide lapel is bold yet still harmonious with the overall suit cut.  The wide trim on the breast pocket is another dashing flair.  The wonky side tabs, however, are another matter.  They are essentially a small version of the strap and buckle found on the back of waistcoats, an embellishment I was informed were inspired by Tom Ford trousers.  Besides their strange appearance, they were also placed too low on the trouser to function properly. I’d recommend that buyers forego them as there’s really not much need for tabs them if the trouser’s waist is sized correctly.

Value

Pretty much all of the stylistic shortcomings I have noted are avoidable through special request and the construction deficiencies can easily be rectified with a replacement garment, assuming that Indochino hasn’t yet altered their tailoring processes as a result of my order and review.   The only deal-breaker is the shiny spots from the improper pressing.  Based on the fact that none of the tuxedo (or suit) samples in the Toronto store exhibited this problem I am inclined to believe the company when they say this flaw is an anomaly.  I will verify this in about a month when the replacement tuxedo arrives.  In the meantime, I wanted to publish this review as it stands because a number of people have asked for my opinion on Indochino tuxedos and there is still a lot of helpful information here for potential buyers.

I would definitely recommend the Premium fabric over the more basic version.  While it adds a hefty $200 to the price tag, you get what you pay for.  Black-tie events are first-class affairs and you really don’t want to be attending them in a second-rate tuxedo.

Disclosure: The garments reviewed in this post were provided free of charge for editorial purposes.

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Traveling Tailor Service

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Indochino also offers a Traveling Tailor service in selected North American cities.   These pop-up storefronts allows customers the benefit of being professionally measured, seeing examples of actual suits and shirts and feeling the fabric.  They also provide an opportunity to receive free offer wardrobe consultation for guys new to the sartorial arts.  As of this month (August 2014) some of these stores have become permanent, a welcome new development for nearby customers who will be able to have their garments assessed by Indochino staff and altered by a contracted local tailor if necessary, rather than ship them back to to the company’s head office.  The result is more of the full-service that local tailors typically provide but without giving up the price benefits of overseas manufacturing.