Hello everyone! This Sunday, I’m going back to another passion of mine – suits. I’ve been posting about watches for an entire month now, and it’s time to take a break from horology as we talk tailoring for a while!
For my second suit review, I’ll be covering Stitched Custom, another local made-to-measure tailor. In Part 1 of this review, I’ll be covering my experience of getting a three piece suit and shirt done with them. In Part 2 (out next week!), I’ll be reviewing the overall fit of the tailoring, as well as how my customisation options turned out.
Without further ado, let’s check out Stitched Custom as a brand!
Stitched Custom – the Brand
Stitched Custom was started in 2016 by the duo of QQ and Joey. Based on the second floor of a cozy shophouse off Kitchener Road, Stitched Custom pride themselves in “bringing a contemporary flair to the industry, equipped with a large selection of fabrics and accessories that allow people to have a more whimsical approach to the customization process”.
According to QQ and Joey, Stitched Custom was “born from a deep enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and fashion”. Both of them first knew each other by suffering through hell in NDU (Naval Diving Unit) for their National Service. Fast-forward a decade, and they both found themselves to be dissatisfied with their high-paying banking jobs. Craving a new challenge, they decide to strike it out themselves and become entrepreneurs. This was a bootstrap project – operating costs depleted their savings, and at the start both paid themselves a meager $500 a month to get by. From earning 5 figures at a bank to living on $500 a month – it was hard, but passion tided them through. It is often said that Singapore lacks entrepreneurs due to our aversion to risk taking – those that believes so need to open their eyes. Entrepreneurs are everywhere, in a myriad of fields – kudos to people like QQ and Joey who were willing to walk down the path less taken and start something of their own!
I visited Stitched Custom last month to get a 3 piece suit and shirt done with them. Let’s see how my experience with them was like!
Stitched Custom – the Experience
Open the door, and you will be instantly greeted by mannequins donning dapper suits. Turn the corner, and a wall chock-full of fabric swathes pops into view.
I think that this is a great idea. By hanging swathes of fabric on the wall, visually it makes fabric selection much more intuitive than flipping back and forth fabrics on a booklet. For someone looking for a 3 piece suit + shirt like me, it increases convenience as well as I can just take a shirt and suit fabric off the wall and see if they match. Finding complementing colors and textures was so much easier with a system like this!
As all good tailors do, QQ asked me what I had in mind. I have been toying with the idea of an event suit (something to wear to weddings, galas, etc) for quite some time, and expressed to him my interest in getting a black 3 piece suit. (The Oscars just passed, and I was really into that look)
I initially thought I was going to go for a plain black suit, but QQ suggested something with a bit of patterning. He showed me a swathe of black fabric with a subtle blue windowpane pattern, and I was sold. QQ felt that a plain black suit would be too mainstream and occasion restrictive – a little patterning and texture would not only make me stand out from the crowd, but also make the suit more versatile. As my friends can testify, I was never one for conforming and fitting in, so I loved the idea. This is a prime example of a tailor who appreciates your needs and suggests something to you that you might not have considered before. I believe that this is what separates the wheat from the chaff in tailoring. It would have been easy for QQ to agree with me and just do a black suit (after all, he earns the same amount) – but he didn’t. Conversely, he didn’t recommend me something that was totally outside what I was looking for, like a white or tan suit. Instead, he suggested something that was a bit different, but not too far away from what I was looking for – a subtle nuance that’s hard to balance, but QQ did it successfully.
Afterwards, QQ showed me the visual difference between a peak (left suit) and notch (right suit) lapel. A peak lapel is generally more flashy and tends to be seen as more formal, as compared to a notch lapel which is more business attire-like and subdued. Wanting something with more poise and presence, I went with a peak lapel. Similar to my previous suit, I once again opted for a double-vented back, as well as flap pockets.
Next was the lining. This time, I wanted something bold and contrasting on the inside, and told QQ so. He promptly suggested red (black and red complements well together) as the lining color. After cycling through several shades of red and differing patterns, I eventually chose a maroon lining with floral patterning (pictured above).
For buttons, I decided upon a classier looking faux-horn button (plastic) that I felt complemented the black of the suit well. Similar to ethan men, the buttons here are mainly plastic/corozo – you won’t find buttons made of precious materials (mother-of-pearl, horn, etc) here. Those materials tend to be only available at tailors of higher price ranges, often at the bespoke level. While the quality of the buttons were acceptable given their price point, I was slightly disappointed at the lack of options for suit buttons. As seen above, there are only 11 options for suit buttons. In terms of customisation choices, I definitely felt that this was their weakest link.
On to the final touches. As I mentioned in my previous suit review, I like to change the color of my lapel buttonhole, as well as the last buttonhole of my jacket sleeve, to pink. I asked QQ what colors I could change the buttonholes to, and he brought out this huge booklet of thread colors for me to choose from. As I already knew that I wanted pink, all I had to do was to choose between the differing shades of pink (of which there were a few) and I was ready to rumble, so to speak!
I have never had a vest made before, so naturally I peppered QQ with questions, which he readily answered. He explained to me that the customisation choices for vests generally reside in the amount of buttons, the choice of either a side or back adjuster, and whether to have a lapel. Since I would be wearing the vest with a suit, QQ recommended a 5 button vest, but with a back adjuster, a lapel and a full back (instead of just lining) so that the vest would look presentable even without the jacket. In this aspect, I’m really appreciative of QQ’s advice as vests were really an area which I was unfamiliar with.
At this stage, all that was left for me to decide were the cusotmisation options for the shirt. As I already have a white and pink dress shirt, QQ recommended blue – which I readily opted for as blue is one of my favourite colors. In keeping with the floral lining of the jacket, I also went floral with the trimmings of the shirt. For the shirt button, I picked metal ones for a more unique look. Just when I thought the process was finished, QQ suggested that I go for a trimming on the placket to give the shirt a subtle casual vibe. I chose R7 – it happens to be one of my favourite NATO strap designs, and I thought it would look great on a blue shirt!
All in all, customising my suit and shirt at Stitched Custom was a breeze. Since I supposedly have bad fashion sense (so my friends say), I was grateful for QQ’s advice as he broadened my fashion horizons so to speak! One thing that struck me about the styling at Stitched Custom was the focus on versatility. Every step of the way, QQ offered me suggestions that made the garment more versatile, and therefore more practical. As such, I’m pleased with both the service as well as the expertise of the folks at Stitched Custom!
Stitched Custom – the Measurement
I’m going to be honest: while I appreciated QQ’s style advice, there weren’t a mindblowing array customisation options at Stitched Custom – they have pretty much the same stuff as most tailors do in the same price range. What really sets them apart for me is their measurement process.
For starters, QQ took measurements of almost every portion of my upper body: the shoulders (pictured above), chest, arm length, armhole width, etc. This is where the magic starts. Having someone confident and experienced taking your measurements just puts you at ease – you get the feeling that you’re in good hands, the same way you do at a good barber. To me, knowing that something is being made specifically to my requirements is the magic of tailoring!
For the uninitiated, a typical basted fitting is when a tailor makes a skeleton vest/suit from scratch (based on the measurements that they took) for you to try on. From there, the tailor would be able to see if their initial measurements were accurate, and make alterations as per necessary. This is a stage that is usually seen in bespoke tailors, and not made-to-measure ones like Stitched Custom because of cost and time factors (a basted fitting would prolong the lead time of a suit significantly).
At Stitched Customs, QQ and Joey developed a middle route – based on the initial measurements taken, QQ took out a suitable skeleton jacket for me to try on. In so doing, I was able to reflect to him about my thoughts on the length and fit of the jacket/vest. Due to this process, my preferences (slightly longer fit, roomier forearm area) were conveyed effectively to him, and he would be able to take these into consideration for the making of the actual suit. I think that this is a great way for customers (especially those unfamiliar with tailoring) to get a sensing of how the finished product would look like, and learn about their preferences in the process. Interestingly, QQ also utilises pins to mark places for alteration on the skeleton jacket – this is something generally seen on higher-end bespoke tailors, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that such traditional practices are being implemented in Stitched Custom.
In the off chance that you are unsatisfied with the finished garments, Stitched Custom do offer free alterations. The alterations are done in house by their own seamstresses (under the charge of QQ’s sister). It is literally in-house: the alteration area is located at the back of the shop! As I mentioned in my previous suit review, I believe that it is important for tailors to retain some sort of in-house production during the tailoring process. As a tailor, making garments should be your core competency – when you outsource your core competency, reliability issues invariably follow as you no longer have control over your back-end processes. Seeing the seamstresses making alterations on customer’s garments at the back of the shop reassured me that I was in competent hands.
Due to the lack of a true basted fitting, the lead time on Stitched Custom’s garments is usually 2-3 weeks, with alterations taking a further week at most to complete. That’s rather quick and efficient, making them a credible option for someone looking for tailored clothing on a tight timeline.
Conclusion: so the Stitched Custom Experience “shiok” or not?
Definitely. Firstly, I loved the vibe of Stitched Custom. Their store is bathed in warm light, and mannequins donning a variety of dapper suits are scattered throughout the store. Their wall of fabric, while serving a practical purpose, also makes for a strong visual statement when you walk in. While I personally don’t think that they have the most varied customisation choices, it was still more than adequate. QQ’s styling advice was also greatly appreciated as he suggested fabrics and combinations that I hadn’t considered before. The strongest asset of Stitched Custom however, was their measurement process. Having been to bespoke tailors twice the price range of Stitched Custom, I was really pleased by their measurement process, in particular their use of pins and the ready-to-wear skeleton fitting step. While it is not a true basted fitting stage (nowhere close), I think that this a masterstroke as it allows customers to get a much better idea of how their garments would turn out (and therefore ensuring a better fit), without resulting in additional lead time as a traditional basted fitting process would. Overall, I think that the experience at Stitched Custom punches above their price point.
That concludes Part 1! Hopefully, through this chronicling of my experience, you guys would have a much better idea of what to expect when getting a suit/shirt done at Stitched Custom. Next week, I’ll be commenting on how the suit/vest/shirt fits, as well as showing how well the customisation choices turned out (if QQ’s styling advice is actually as good as it seems). Stay tuned!
Suits at Stitched Custom start from $499. Just for my readers, Stitched Custom is offering a free shirt with every suit purchase, as well as 20% off all accessories. Those interested in rentals can also get a 15% discount on both the “Made-to-rental” programme and general rental suits.
Read Part 2 of the review here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
Stitched Custom’s location:
193A Kitchener Road #02-01, S(208534)
Open Mon-Fri, 12pm-8pm