Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’m taking a break from reviewing watches and instead, will instead be returning to formalwear by looking at local tailor, Este Bartin. Similar to my previous suit reviews, this will be split into two separate articles – in Part 1, I’ll be chronicling my experience of getting a suit and shirt done at Este Bartin. In Part 2 (out next Sunday!), I’ll be showing you guys how the suit fits, as well as how the customisation options turned out.
I would say that Este Bartin is an relatively affordable made-to-measure tailor (a 2 piece suit going for less than $500) – let’s see how my experience with them turned out!
Este Bartin – the Brand
Este Bartin was co-founded by the duo of Justin Loy (pictured above) and Barry Lim in 2013. Like other made-to-measure tailors that I’ve covered previously, Justin and Barry first earned their stripes by being a travelling tailor, often journeying to clients’ houses far and wide to take measurements. Understandably, being a mobile tailor was hard work, and so Justin and Barry soon found a physical location as a showroom thereafter in the heartland of Toh Payoh. Today, Este Bartin has two branches – one in Braddell Tech (Lorong 8 Toh Payoh), and one in circular road (right in the heart of the CBD!).
Este Bartin’s youthful outlook belies the experience that their founders have. While they are still some way off the experience a tailoring house like HST Tailors possesses, Este Bartin is already 6 years old this year. That’s a significant amount of time that Justin and Barry have spent honing their craft and working out the kinks in their supply chain! For those wondering about the name, the word “Este” means East in Spanish (they consulted a fengshui master, who said East is a better direction for them), while “Bartin” is an amalgamation of the co-founders names, Barry and Justin.
Without further ado, let’s check out how my experience of getting a suit and shirt tailored at Este Bartin went!
Este Bartin – the Experience
I first visited Este Bartin’s Braddell Tech outlet. Even though the location isn’t in exactly the most accessible of places, I was surprised to see that there were already multiple clients in the store – that’s always a good sign!
As compared to the previous affordable made-to-measure tailors that I’ve reviewed, the atmosphere at Este Bartin (Braddell Tech location) felt more laid-back and cozy. Unlike other tailors in this price range who work on an appointment-only basis (probably to prioritize a quick customer flow rate), Este Bartin also welcomes walk-ins, though those with appointments are naturally prioritized. While the Bradell Tech outlet is far from spacious, seeing Justin and his associates interact with regulars – everything from inquiring about their spouses and children, to prodding them to try a more contemporary, slim-fit cutting – lends towards a homely, more intimate feel.
I was attended to by the co-founder of Este Bartin, Justin (pictured above). Like all good tailors do, he first asked me the purpose of the suit I was seeking to commission. I told him I wanted an “event suit” – something I could wear to a glitzy event. Specifically, I conveyed that I was thinking of a maroon, doubled breasted suit. I was inspired by Shawn Mendes’ look in his maiden MET Gala appearance, and desired something similar.
Upon hearing my requests, Justin asked how often it would be in the near future that I would need an event suit. After hearing my reply (“Once, maybe twice I think”), he suggested a more versatile shade, specifically wine. He also recommended me to stick to the more classic 2 button, single breasted suit, instead of a GQ cover inspired double-breasted one. He said that while a maroon double-breasted suit could potentially look great, its usage will be restricted to event settings and therefore (unless I go for events on a regular basis), it would likely end up languishing in my wardrobe. In contrast, a wine coloured single-breasted suit is much more versatile, whilst still being unique enough to be worn at events due to the striking nature of the fabric colour. As such, I eventually decided to opt for Justin’s more sensible recommendation.
Something I should highlight: I personally believe that Este Bartin’s set of starter fabrics are quite good! As compared to other affordable tailors which tends to use a wool-polyester blend, the fabric I chose is a Super 180s wool/cashmere/silk blend from Ethan Smith. While I have never heard of Ethan Smith (a quick google search pinpoints Bangkok as the fabric’s origin – no surprises there), the fabric itself feels smooth and luxurious to the touch. Aesthetically, it definitely comes across as more premium compared to the starter fabrics of other tailors that I’ve come across previously.
After deciding upon the fabric, Justin and I quickly whisked through the rest of the suit’s customisation options. Noting that I have an arched back, he recommended double-vents for me (to reduce the wrinkles at the back). I initially wanted a peak lapel, but Justin recommended against it as he felt that having a peak lapel, combined with the striking nature of the wine fabric, might restrict the versatility of the suit. Therefore, I eventually went with Justin’s suggestion as sensibility prevailed. In the same vein of versatility, I went with flap pockets and a plain black lining on the inside. Unfortunately, one doesn’t get to choose their suit buttons at Este Bartin – the tailors (i.e Justin) would simply pair complementary buttons with your suit, although you can apparently bring your own buttons (if you have something specific in mind) and have them sew it on for you at no extra cost.
For the shirt, Justin recommended me to go with a white based fabric, but patterned to show off a bit of panache. After rummaging through the fabric books, we eventually settled upon a white shirt with a purple mosaic pattern to complement the wine coloured suit fabric.
Interestingly, Este Bartin allows customers to customise not only the shirt buttons, but also the colour of the buttonhole! I decided on a dark purple, glossy one (A5 in the above picture) for the shirt buttons, with a light pink buttonhole colour (T3 in the above picture).
Like all decent made-to-measure tailors should, Este Bartin offers one the choice of different collars and cuffs. Deciding which collar and cuff is best for you depends upon various factors such as whether you wear a tie/bow-tie, if you tend to wear cuff-links, etc. Keeping in mind the theme of versatility, I went with a classic collar (appropriate both with and without a tie on), as well as a French cuff, given my preference to wear cuff-links (I personally think cuff-links add the icing on the cake on a suit).
All in all, I enjoyed my experience customising my garments at Este Bartin. The experience of Justin shows in our interactions – he did a good job keeping my GQ tendencies in check, as he prioritised the utility and versatility of the suit over making a quick buck. In addition, I think the fabrics that Este Bartin carries punches above their price range. Nevertheless, Este Bartin prides themselves in providing “the Perfect Stitch” – let’s now see how the measurement process went!
Este Bartin – the Measurement
Similar to their fabrics, I felt that the measurement process at Este Bartin exceeded my expectations!
There was a decidedly old-school feel when Justin whipped out his trusty yellow measuring tape and started to measure my various proportions.
The usual set of measurements were taken, including (but not limited to): chest size, arm length, shoulder length, armhole diameter (pictured above), etc. Justin made the measurement process quick and effortless – you could tell that this was a process he had done countless times before.
For the pants, I decided to go for a more contemporary no break style. We shall see next week if Este Bartin nailed the look! After my lower body measurements were taken, we bid adieu as I awaited the basted fitting stage.
After about 2-3 weeks, I returned to Este Bartin (this time at their Circular Road outlet) for the basted fitting process. For those uninitiated with tailoring, a basted fitting process is where the tailor will let you try on a skeleton jacket, held together by temporary white basting stitches. For more information on the basted fitting stage, do read this highly educational article here. To me, a basted fitting stage is essential to a true tailoring experience. To quote a line from the aforementioned article, “It’s the difference between flying first class and flying on a private jet.”
To me, the basted fitting process is critical to having the eventual suit fitting well. The basted fitting process allows the tailor to locate and remedy bad fitting areas, especially in places that cannot be fixed after the suit is completed (for example, the shoulders). It also gives the consumer the opportunity to voice out their opinion of how the skeletal suit fit. During the basted fitting process, both of us identified the back as an area of issue, as rampant wrinkles could be seen on the skeleton suit.
I also reflected to Justin during the basted fitting process that I felt the right armhole was slightly too tight for comfort. Using alteration pins, Justin conscientiously marked out that area for future alteration. Discomfort may not always manifest itself visually, so conveying how you feel to your tailor (especially during the basted fitting process) is essential. Noting my preference for cuff-links, Justin also recommended having the jacket sleeves slightly shortened so that the cuff-links can be more visibly displayed, which I readily agreed to.
Overall, I really enjoyed the measurement process over at Este Bartin, largely due to the presence of a basted fitting process. As aforementioned, it elevates the entire tailoring experience. A basted fitting process tends to be more commonly found in bespoke tailoring, so for Este Bartin to incorporate it at an affordable price point is remarkable.
Conclusion – so the Este Bartin experience “shiok” or not?
Definitely. Firstly, the quality of the fabric available punched above their price category, even though the customisation options were a little limited. Secondly, the service rendered by Justin was detailed, as he considered and coaxed me to prioritise my needs over my wants. That being said, I do think that the main calling card for Este Bartin is their incorporation of the basted fitting process, as it not only invaluably enhances the entire tailoring experience, but also promises a better fit.
For those interested in commissioning garments from Este Bartin, simply flash this article to enjoy 5% off all Este Bartin’s products! With the discount, a 2 piece suit from Este Bartin starts at $474 SGD, shirts start at $75, pants at $104, and vests at $171. Given their sub-$500 price point, I think the experience at Este Bartin was impressive. I would also recommend readers to check out their Circular Road outlet. Not only is it more accessible and spacious as compared to the Braddell Tech one, it is also the less busy of the two (most regulars patronise Este Bartin at their Braddell Tech store), meaning that you are more likely to have the place to yourself (and the tailor’s undivided attention) on any given day.
In addition, Arden Teal shoes can be found stocked at Este Bartin as well! If you haven’t already, do read my review of Arden Teal’s shoes here.
That concludes part 1 of this article! In part 2 next week, I’ll be looking at the fit of the suit, as well as how the customisation options turned out. Stay tuned!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
Este Bartin’s locations:
1) 15 Lor 8 Toa Payoh, #04-09 Braddell Tech, Singapore 319262
2) 66 Circular Rd, Singapore 049420
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre
Sheng Xiong, @intercaptain