Ask an Expert: A Cut Above the Rest
Getting a custom suit can be an overwhelming experience. Adam Gallo, buyer for all things sartorial at Harry Rosen, is here to help with your questions.
What are the hallmarks of a great made-to-measure suit?
At the heart of it, you have to have a great fit. It’s easy to get caught up with the bells and whistles, which is very much a part of the experience, but those are always secondary. The suit shouldn’t fit sloppy and loose, nor should it be too tight and skinny.
What are the key points that a man should be aware of when it comes to understanding the right fit for his body?
There’s always room for a little deviation because nothing is set in stone. But there are certainly a few guidelines that will determine the proper fit. The garment should follow the line of the body without being tight. It should sit flush against the natural shoulder line without extending too far forward or back. If the shoulder is too tight, it can twist and create lumps. The chest, which is where a lot of guys end up a little off, needs to rest comfortably and shouldn’t pop or break away from the body.
For the sleeves, you might want to show a quarter- or half-inch of the shirt cuff. As well, for the pants, make sure there is not too much gathering or bunching of fabric around the ankles. A single break is all you need.
What is special about the made-to-measure experience at Harry Rosen?
The experience is something we pride ourselves on. For Harry Rosen, our roots are in the made-to-measure business, it’s part of our DNA and has always been a strong component of our culture. One thing that sets us apart is the depth in selection; the options in made-to-measure are extraordinary. The most fundamental thing is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good-looking garment. Our quality level is always at a certain standard. As for the experience, we have specialists in each store, as well as clothing advisors, who are extremely fluent when it comes to custom garments and taste levels. We really provide a certain kind of experience from start to finish.
What is an all-around classic fabric that can be used year-round for any guy?
Typically, a simple worsted fabric is the best option, which can be anywhere between eight and nine ounces in weight. It doesn’t have to be ultra lux or ultra lightweight, but something in-between will give you the combination of performance and luxury that will feel good throughout the year.
What are some ways of letting your personality come through in an otherwise conservative suit?
Often times, men may over style or add too many things that will make a suit look cheesy. As long as you have a good-looking and well-made garment as your foundation, you can add some nice details. A must with any custom suit is a surgeon’s cuff with workable buttonholes on the sleeve. That’s a great way to show that your jacket is custom-made. Another option is adding a fun lining, which can add some personality to a navy or grey suit.
Keep in mind that the way you furnish a suit also makes a difference. From a cutaway collar shirt to a wool-blended tie in the fall, these are the nuances and details that can add a bit of extra flavour and make a suit look very modern.
What should you let your tailor know about your lifestyle in order to help him make the best suit for you?
There are just as many practical options in a suit as there are creative and fun. Things like a cell phone or passport pocket, a reinforced crotch liner or a hidden zip compartment can all be added. In our stores, the relationship is more with the clothing advisors, who are creating a wardrobe with the individual. If you’re a traveler, you have to let them know. If you don’t like to wear your pants aggressively short or tight, let them know if you sit all day. These little things need to be known so we can create something that is comfortable, stylish and practical.
Can you elaborate more on comfort as it pertains to style?
Comfort refers not only to how you feel in a suit, but also how it makes you feel. Does it give you confidence? This may sound strange, but a slimmer-fitting suit, as long as it is well tailored, will be more comfortable than a loose-fitting suit. It’s because it follows along the lines of the body and moves with you, which is the key. If it doesn’t, you’re going to fight against it and it’s going to feel uncomfortable.
Why is a quality suit dictated, in part, by its canvassing?
There are a lot of different quality levels between a fully fused, half-canvassed and a fully canvassed garment. Certainly, when you get to the price points of what we offer, which starts around $1000, that’s kind of the mark where you know you’re getting a quality garment. A half-canvas garment has movement and a three-dimensional shape, which is the biggest difference between canvassed and non-canvassed clothing. A fully fused garment takes on the shape of the block that it was built on. At the better end, a fully canvassed garment is very three-dimensional and feels very comfortable because it takes on the shape of the wearer. It really does feel like a second skin and is worth every single penny for how much more it costs.
There’s an equity in “Made in Italy” and “Made in France”, but other places that don’t have a great reputation, like China, can also produce fantastic quality garments. What is more important: where a garment is made, or how it is made?
Definitely how it is made. Where a suit is made is becoming less and less important, especially with the way technology has evolved over the years. Some of the world’s best fashion brands and design houses are producing in places like China, where production is a hell of a lot different than what it was twenty years ago. Yes, in some ways, something that is made in Italy or Canada is worth highlighting because there is a certain standard that we hold to products made in these countries. But today, something that is made in China or Mexico does not necessarily equate with poor quality. The reason why a lot of designers go to these places for production is simply due to lower costs, but you’re getting the exact same design, pattern, fabric and more. If it can be made for a lower price, then that effect can be passed onto consumers as well.
You carry a lot of different brands from all over the world. What is a great one that you can recommend?
We just brought in this great brand called Munroe from Amsterdam. It’s something revolutionary for us because it’s different than what we have and have had. First, you get to design your own garment and make something custom with an extraordinary fabric selection from Loro Piana, Zegna and more of the best mills in the world. One thing with Munroe is that they offer a totally deconstructed jacket with no padding or canvassing. Yet, it takes the shape of a tailored garment and feels like your favourite cardigan. Further to that, they have shirts that you can one hundred percent customize. There is a diversity in the product range outside of suiting, which is the best part. To be able to get the expression that they offer in jackets, trousers and shirting provides a different way of looking at tailored clothing and dressing. If you go into our First Canadian Place location, there is a giant touchscreen where you can browse through every single swatch and see how it’s going to look and how it should be coordinated. As a made-to-measure brand, they cater to the lifestyle outside of the boardroom. It’s a very exciting experience.