Suits are the cornerstone of a man's wardrobe. From the boardroom to the bar or Birdcage at the track, they are sharp and versatile.
There are more ways to buy a suit than ever, whether it's experiencing the art of tailoring for the first time, choosing off the peg, a fuss-free online order, or demanding the finest sartorial craftsmanship.
An industry once steeped in tradition has been revitalised by the plethora of choices offered at an almost limitless number of price points.
Here, Executive Style lists the best options to meet any level of need, whether within a budget or in the pursuit of personalised, hand-crafted masterpieces made by some of the world's best artisans.
The top end of town
Italian luxury menswear label Ermenegildo Zegna has been at the top of men's tailoring for more than 70 years. The Zegna Su Misura experience is a bespoke service where every detail is carefully selected by the customer, from a starting price of $4175.
Each garment is individually fitted, then cut and sewn from a collection of more than 700 fabrics made exclusively by Lanificio Zegna from the most precious fibres in the world, including 200 fabrics specifically made for each season.
The process involves an initial consultation and styling session, which can be done at either an Ermenegildo Zegna store or from your own home (the ultimate indulgence). Once your measurements have been taken, and everything from the buttons to the stitching has been decided, the order is shipped to Italy for construction by Zegna's master tailors.
Clients also have the unique privilege of designing their own fabric, which can be further customised with their name woven into the selvedge.
The timeframe for completion is generally three to four weeks, and any additional alterations are done in-store at no extra cost.
Beginning from September 2015, Hugo Boss will launch a new level of luxury with its Boss Made to Measure line.
It will offer customised service at every stage, from fitting to delivery. Clients can choose from a library of close to 250 fabric options, from staple monochromes to Glen plaid and micro-herringbone. Additional details such as buttons, lapel style and single- or double-breasted jackets can then be individually selected to guarantee a personalised design.
Each suit is complete with the wearer's signature precisely replicated using laser technology and stitched into the interior of the jacket and the inner waistband.
Boss Made To Measure starts at $3000 with a customisation process time of six weeks. To complement the suits, customers can choose from coordinated individually tailored shirts, ties and pocket squares, all available in a variety of fabrics.
The in-house experience
Tailor Patrick Johnson's name has become synonymous with lightweight bespoke suits designed for an Australian audience with all the precision of traditional tailoring.
Johnson offers three levels of suiting – all of which are made in Italy. The first is the PJ Classic line, starting at $1375, where all but the buttonholes and top-stitch are done by hand in the P. Johnson workroom in Rome.
The next level is PJ Roma, which is entirely made and finished by hand and starts at roughly $1725. This is considered the classic P. Johnson bespoke suit.
At the top end is the PJ Napoli line. Constructed entirely by master tailors in Tuscany, the Napoli model is typically double row top-stitched and comes with a characteristic 'fullness' to the sleeve-head. It is completely customisable and starts at approximately $3600.
The process at P. Johnson follows three simple stages – first your initial appointment, where you and your tailor discuss the details of your suit and take your measurements. Next comes your first fitting, and then approximately six weeks later your second and final fitting. Any alterations are done within the week and are included in the initial price of your suit.
At a starting cost of $1000 for two suits, M.J. Bale currently offer one of the best deals for gents buying their very first suit or simply needing some additional pieces to change things up around the office. Customers can choose two suits in superfine Merino wool (or cotton) in staple shades of blue, black, grey or brown.
An extra $500 opens up a wider variety of fabrics and colours, including patterns such as Window Pane checks. This level is perfect for someone after a more traditional selection for the office, plus something a little more adventurous for the weekends.
Alterations are available at an additional cost.
The online option
With the internet revolutionising the consumer experience, it was a matter of time before tailoring went online. The e-tailoring phenomenon has effectively handed over the controls to the clients, who can build their own suit without needing to step into a store.
Australian labels InStitchu and Suit Me Up operate on the similar premise of self-measuring, with handy videos and infographs available to help you along the way and make sure you get the very best fit. Clients can individualise their suits through a wide assortment of details, including single- and double-breasted jackets, lapel styles and buttons.
Both sites have a three-to-four week turnaround period from ordering.
One of the first brands to truly make the most of the digital shopping revolution, the Australian-owned e-tailoring portal has become a popular choice for men after made-to-measure garments who may not be able to access a bricks-and-mortar store.
Their modest price range starts at $250 up to $750 and fabrics include Australian merino, linen and cotton blends.
If you prefer a no-fuss approach, simply pick a suit their pre-designed selection according to your size (although these, too, can be tweaked according to taste).
InStitchu also offers insurance should further alterations be required once the finished product arrives.
Melbourne-based online tailors Suit Me Up offer a no-nonsense approach that promises quality fabric, finishes and fit and a wide range of fabrics, including merino and cashmere.
Should any alterations need to be made, customers can download a form from the website and take the suit to their local tailor. Details of what changes were made along with the form and receipt mean customers can claim alterations up to $60.
Hong Kong-based W.W. Chan boasts an impressive lineage, descending from the original Shanghainese Red Gang tailors and the first school of tailoring in China.
Appointments are made online ahead of trunk shows (itineraries are updated regularly on their website). While a full measure is taken during your appointment, first-time clients are recommended to bring along a pre-existing suit to their initial fitting to give an indication on how you will like the finer details of your new suit to fit, such as leg width.
Clients who have particular fabrics in mind are recommended to send this request so their W.W. Chan tailor can bring samples and begin the process. On average, the turnaround is up to two months once your order is taken, and costs start at roughly $2100.
Minor adjustments are free of charge but are done in the W.W. Chan workrooms in Hong Kong.
The Signature Bespoke team spends up to seven months of the year travelling to major cities around the world, operating from suites in five-star hotels.
Appointments are essential and made online. A representative and tailor will take customers through thousands of fabric choices before taking measurements, which are stored in a database for future reference.
Suits start as low as $450 and go all the way up to $3500 for luxury wools and cashmere. Signature Bespoke also has a package offering two custom suits and shirts for $1800.
Turnaround is 4-6 weeks and brought back with the tailor during the next round of visits. Any adjustments are included in the original price, but are completed in Hong Kong.
With more than 60 years in the business, Ascot Chang has cemented its reputation as one of the world's best tailors.
Initial measurements are taken at annual trunk shows and are stored on file for up to 10 years. Clients can then choose from Ascot Chang's mammoth library of fabrics (more than 3000) including Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Drapers and Vitale Barberis. The cost begins at about $2400.
Ascot Chang also offers the opportunity to create a new bespoke suit using the measurements of an existing one, which is perfect for first time clients who are unable to attend their once-a-year visit. Using the pre-existing suit as a guide, the customer can then re-create an entirely new piece with fabrics and details of their choice.
The average turnaround is six to eight weeks, and alterations are done for free but must be sent back to Ascot Chang's workrooms in Hong Kong.