Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’ll be showing you guys how the suit from HST Tailors turned out. If you haven’t already, do read Part 1 of the review here, where I chronicled my experience of getting a suit and shirt done there!
Without further ado, let’s first see how the fit for the suit and shirt turned out!
HST Tailors – the Fit
Given the exacting nature of HST Tailors’ measurements, I had high hopes for the fit of their garments – and for the most part, they delivered.
Let’s start with the front. Firstly, the fit of the shoulder looks good, with the shoulder lying flat, and there are no ripples or loose fabric visible at the shoulders. This is great, as the shoulders are arguably the most important aspect of the fit. An ill-fitting shoulder is either incredibly expensive or impossible to alter, so having a well-fitted shoulder is already half the battle won. The jacket closure looks acceptable as well – though there are slight wrinkles, we don’t see the dreaded “X” forming around the midsection. If you guys don’t know what I’m referring to, take a look at a (bad) example by Daniel Craig here. From the photo above, one can see the clear tapering of the jacket around my waist as well. This makes for a slimmer looking silhouette, and is a tell-tale sign of a tailored suit as compared to the boxy fit that you get with off-the-rack suits. In addition, the sleeve length looks right too, ending at the wrist-bone and showing off about half an inch of cuff on both sides. From the front, the length looks good as well, as it does not expose the dress shirt underneath. The button stance here is higher than usual (usually button stances are placed around your navel), but in my opinion, the high button stance here actually improves the fit of the suit! Another thing that I’ve learnt at HST Tailors was that my body is disproportionate – that is to say, my torso is longer than my legs. By having a higher button stance, a narrower V is created, and lengthens the appearances of my legs by raising the natural waistline. This results in a more proportionate look as a whole. (See first picture)
As compared to the back of my previous suit (read the review here), the back of the jacket looks much cleaner here. As mentioned in Part 1, I have an arched back, which means that my back concave quite significantly inwards around my lower spine area. Shifu noticed this during the basted fitting stage, and worked hard to remedy it by removing the excess fabric. I know this, because after the basted fitting stage I went back for a second fitting, with the back a key area of concern. As such, I would say that the back here is significantly better done than both the made-to-measure tailors that I’ve previously reviewed. There are some visible wrinkles around the armpits/armholes, but to me those are necessary evils so as to allow for freedom of movement for the arms. That being said, the back is not perfect – if I nitpick, I would say that one can still see visible wrinkles, especially on the upper left section of the back. However, one must keep in mind that this is a $700+ suit – and for that amount of money, the back is already much better than those of the tailors I’ve previously visited.
Again, it is visibly obvious that the sleeves on HST’s suit are much better than those that I’ve reviewed previously (see here). There are few wrinkles all throughout the sleeves, indicating that the sleeve is made to just the right width. However, it is still not perfect. The sleeve pitch is slightly off here, as can be seen from the slight spiraling wrinkles seen on the upper portion of the sleeve. In this case, the sleeve should probably have been rotated about 2cm forward from the middle of the shoulder. In HST’s defense, the sleeve pitch is one of the hardest portions of the fit to nail as it is dependent on the client’s – my – natural stance and posture. Unlike the shoulders/chest/length/etc, there’s no tape and measure for that. Thomas Mahon, one of Saville Row’s most prominent tailors, once said: “…even after all the diligence of checking again and again, things can go wrong, and pitch is often where disaster strikes.” As such, I think that overall, HST did a commendable job on the sleeves. In addition, the fit of the jacket collar is good too – there’s no visible separation between the shirt and jacket collar.
I love the length of the trousers – it just touches the top of my dress shoes, which was exactly what I wanted.
Moving on to the shirt, I’m happy to report that the fit is great as well! The shoulders are fitted well, ending where my natural shoulder bone ends with no wrinkling or bunching of fabric visible. Similar to the jacket, the waist of the shirt is slightly tapered as well to achieve a slimmer silhouette. The length for the shirt sleeve is good too, ending just past the wrist-bone.
As usual, HST Tailors ensured that the left cuff of the shirt is slightly wider to accommodate a watch below!
Overall, I find the fit of HST Tailors pretty darn good, especially given the price point. It is certainly better than the fit of the made-to-measure tailors I’ve reviewed previously! Yes, the fit is not perfect – but that’s why $4000+ suits at Dylan & Sons exist. Given the exacting measurement process at HST Tailors, I’m pretty pleased with the results.
HST Tailors – the Style
Now that we know the fit is good, lets see how the customisation options turned out!
Firstly, I think the fabric choice turned out quite well! As HST Tailors had the entire roll of fabric on hand (which they will drape on you to aid you in making your choice), the fabric turned out exactly as I envisioned. The result is a nice shade of navy blue, with a visually coarse texture for some added ruggedness – perfect for both the boardroom and events! In addition, the lapel roll is visually obvious here. The lapel roll is one of the most distinctive hallmarks of a hand-made, bespoke suit – the lapel roll creates adds depth and dimension to the garment, which will eventually form to the shape of the wearer. The lapel roll is one of the advantages and a trademark sign of a hand-set canvassed chest. In contrast, off the rack/even made-to-measure suits tend to feature a hard-pressed lapel that looks like they have been ironed on.
I think the horn buttons are beautiful, and add a nice contrasting accent to the navy blue fabric of the jacket. As compared to the plastic/corozo buttons in my previous suit reviews, the horn buttons here look more premium and natural, with more detailed texturing. In addition, the front horn buttons are sewn with a thread shank so as to provide space for the fabric to drape in between the button and garment when fastened.
In keeping to the bespoke nature of HST Tailors, the jacket collar is hand-set. Flip over the jacket collar, and you can visibly see the hand stitches at the base of the felt. Notice the “fold-back” of the collar fabric in the photo above. This method is done by hand (as seen from the hand-stitches) and is done for seam allowance. This allows the tailor to re-cut or re-shape the collar after a fitting session, if needed. A hand-set collar (along with the lapel roll) is another hallmark of a bespoke, custom hand-made garment – little artisanal details such as these really serves to elevate HST Tailors above the cheaper, made-to-measure ones.
At HST Tailors, you can opt to customise the colour of your lapel buttonhole – as always, I went with pink.
Similar to my lapel buttonhole, I went with pink on the last button of both sleeves too. As compared to the previous made-to-measure suit that I’ve reviewed, the sleeves here are functional, meaning that they can be unbuttoned. “Surgeons cuff” are traditionally seen as a hallmark of quality, custom made suits. Contrary to popular belief, I actually found them of practical value! This was most evident when I elected to wear the Tudor Black Bay Bronze. As any watch fanatic would know, the Tudor BBB is a chunky watch, and in this case, was too bulky to fit under my shirt cuff. However, unlike in my previous suit review where I had to wear the watch awkwardly outside my shirt cuff, in this instance all I had to do was unfasten the last button of the jacket sleeve, as well as on the shirt cuff to allow for more space for the watch to fit under. Perfect.
As mentioned in Part 1, Cereph and I really went back on forth on the linings. It was the component that I had the most trouble deciding on. I mentioned in Part 1 that I went with a royal yellow/gold lining for a “Chinese Emperor” feel – well, here’s how it looks like! I find that it pairs really well with the navy fabric, and looks decisively majestic. Props to Cereph for suggesting this to me!
A half-lined jacket (as opposed to full-lined) creates greater ventilation, which is highly beneficial in Singapore’s devilish hot climate. Despite utilizing less fabric, an unlined jacket typically costs more due to the additional effort it takes. In a half-lined jacket, the inside seams have to be finished as well, which is additional effort a tailor has to put in as now there’s no lining hiding the less-than-pretty stitching going on inside the jacket. As such, it is pretty uncommon to find half-lined jackets off-the-rack, and is generally something only custom tailoring can offer.
I absolutely love the bronze side adjusters. I just think they look so good against the navy trousers, and the fact that they will patina over time just steals my heart.
Moving on to the shirt, I really like the herringbone texture on the shirt fabric as well. My style opinion? A plain white shirt is boring – always go for some form of texture on a white shirt!
I really really love these mother-of-pearl buttons. The way they catch the light and shimmer iridescently really capture my heart. From a stylistic point of view, I think they add just the perfect touch of “bling” to an otherwise formal-looking suit. It’s definitely a way to showcase some personality!
While made-to-measure tailors do offer monogramming services, at HST Tailors the font selection for the monogram option is much more varied. I chose this atas looking cursive font, and I’m really glad about the way it turned out! A monogrammed cuff is perhaps the most obvious sign that the shirt is custom-made.
For the shirt, I went with a floral beige/gold trimming for the collar, placket and the cuff. I personally think that it maintains that “Chinese Emperor” theme from the jacket lining! In addition, I feel it pairs well with the white herringbone shirt as well.
See the red thread below the button? That’s the elastic thread that the tailors at HST wound and heated so that when it melts, the thread secures the button to prevent it from dropping. Again, this is a sign of a quality shirt.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the way the garments from HST Tailors turned out. Not only did the customisation options turned out well, seeing the hand-made features of the garments (such as the lapel roll, hand-set collar, half-lining and button shanking) really made me appreciate the amount of artisanal effort that went into creating the garments. I started loving and covering watches because I loved the human craftmanship that it takes to make a mechanical watch. A few months ago, I branched out into covering tailoring with the same belief – that in the face of fast fashion, more people should appreciate and be cognizant about the level of skill that it takes to make tailored clothing. More than any tailors I’ve covered thus far, HST Tailors best exemplifies the level of artisanal craftsmanship it takes to produce garments like these. They have definitely increased my appreciation for both the tailoring craft and the clothing.
Comparison – HST Tailors vs Stitched Custom
Given that Stitched Custom was the last tailor that I’ve reviewed, you guys must be wondering – how does HST Tailors stack up?
In terms of build quality, HST Tailors is definitely superior to Stitched Custom. Firstly, the suit at HST Tailors is fully canvassed, as compared to half-canvassed suits at Stitched Custom. The buttons are of superior quality; there are more variety of fabrics and linings; even the fabric itself is of higher quality, with HST Tailors offering Egyptian cotton by Italian Mill Gianfranco Fila. HST’s suit also possesses more signs of quality, with features such as a hand-set collar, lapel roll, half-lining, button-shanking, functional cuffs, etc.
In terms of fit, I’m afraid HST Tailors has the leg up on Stitched Custom as well. As aforementioned, this is probably due to HST’s exacting measurement process, which includes a basted fitting stage (Stitched Custom do not offer a basted fitting stage). As a result, the sleeves on the HST suit is miles better than those on the Stitched Custom suit, as is the back, which is much cleaner on the HST suit as well.
In terms of customer experience, I’m afraid that HST Tailors has the edge on Stitched Custom too. No discredit to Stitched Custom, but there’s just something about walking into a store where stacks of fabrics are piled heaven high. Seeing the same person who was just sewing together a fitting jacket moments before attend to you, give you fabric advice and take your measurements is incredibly comforting. Not to mention having Shifu (someone with over 50 years of experience in the tailoring industry!) fuss over the fit of the fitting jacket during the basted fitting stage! In my opinion, the basted fitting stage is a hallmark of a true tailoring experience – it is really something to behold. Due to how HST Tailors has grown my appreciation for the craft of tailoring craft, I have to say that I enjoyed my experience at HST Tailors more.
In Stitched Custom’s defense, their strength lies in their affordability as well as their strong sense of style. At a mere $424 for a 2 piece suit (after promo code), that’s almost half the price of a 2 piece suit at HST Tailors! Furthermore, as mentioned in my review of Stitched Custom, QQ and Joey have a strong sense of style and can effortlessly recommend you accessories/dress shoes/belts/socks/watch/etc to pair with their suits. In fact, you can literally get all of the above at their store! If you’re looking to get a first suit, and have absolutely no idea how to dress or pull off formalwear, the advice from Stitched Custom would come in handy.
To conclude this comparison, let me use a watch analogy – Stitched Custom is like Longines, while HST Tailors is like Omega. While an Omega watch is probably better in almost every aspect as compared to a Longines watch, Omega watches are also twice the price of a Longines. If you can afford an Omega (HST Tailors), I’ll recommend going for it. For me, I certainly feel that the price difference between HST Tailors and Stitched Custom is worth it. Yet, if the price ($765) of a HST suit is too much for you, and you want something stylish, Stitched Custom certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice!
Conclusion: so is HST Tailors “shiok” or not?
Undoubtedly, yes. The build quality of the suit is great, the experience of having a suit made there was awesome, and the fit is good (much better than the previous suits) too! Yes, I admit – the fit of the suit isn’t perfect, but that’s why much bespoke tailors like Dylan & Sons and Kelvin Seah exist at higher price points. To continue my watch analogy, even an Omega watch pales in comparison to a Patek Philippe.
Ultimately, I’m grateful to HST tailors for opening my eyes to just how much effort goes into the craft of tailoring. From hand-stitching a fitting jacket for basted fitting, to hand-setting a collar for the final garment – all these are incredibly tedious to do by hand, and once a mistake is made, the tailors often have to start from scratch. As much as I’m enjoying the suit/shirt now, the experience of having clothing truly custom-made to your exact measurements was what I enjoyed most.
As aforementioned in Part 1, I’ve partnered with HST Tailors to offer readers a 10% discount store-wide. Simply flash this post while at HST Tailors to enjoy the discount. After the discount, a fully canvassed mixed wool 2 piece suit will set you back only $765! In addition, an Egyptian cotton shirt would start from $198 each, while mixed-wool pants start from $162. The garments at HST tailors aren’t cheap, but for the price and the experience that you get, I think it’s worth every penny.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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HST Tailors’ location:
No 2 Sims Close
Mon to Sat: 11am – 7pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre