It’s Feb 2017 and I need a new suit for my brothers wedding. I’ve always dressed a bit differently and don’t really conform to the regular black suit and tie world(I mean just look at me). Especially my brothers friends are a bit high class and I always look underdressed around them. At this wedding I was going to be rubbing shoulders with people wearing Armani suits, so my usual suit from M&S wasn’t going to cut it. For a long time I had wanted to buy a blue tweed suit. I thought it imagined it would stand out, but still look traditional. I used to have one many years ago that I had stitched on Bond Street, but it disappeared at some point.
I didn’t have a lot to spend this time, certainly not Bond Street money, so I went online thinking it would be cheaper. I got my size measured by my girlfriend and I ordered a smart tweed suit online from an Italian tailor. When it arrived it didn’t look anything like the picture. Damn. “Wouldn’t someone with a bit of class run a suit shop?” I thought.
I ordered from another online tailor, and this time I was assured it would indeed look like the pictures. However, there was mix up in communication as I had asked him to send more cloth samples, which he misunderstood. When the suit arrived it came with two additional suits and with an invoice for those two other suits. “Can’t people who sell online be better at communication?” I thought. We disagreed wildly about the extra price and he hung up on me on the last call, after stating he had especially made them for me and therefore they were non-refundable. “Shouldn’t there by some refund policy for an online tailor” I thought?
So now I had three extra suits and was seriously out of pocket. I thought to sell the other suits on ebay to make some of the money back. I didn’t even have enough cash left over to buy the pair of matching light brown shoes I had had my eye on. I had to wear my dad’s old black ones that were a size too big. At least the suit fit and it looked pretty damn good.
I went to the wedding and Everyone loved my tweed suit. “Where did you get it ? Which shop did you buy it in ?” My answer was: “I can’t recommend the shopping experience but I have another two like this at home in the same size”.
After selling those two on (couldn’t bring myself to pass on the one that didn’t look like the pictures) I realised that there was definitely a market and an interest for the right kind of tweed suit out there. But understandably people didn't feel safe buying online, and they probably couldn’t afford getting them stitched at a traditional tailor.
I searched the market for reputable tailors. It was hard. Most tailors were very expensive and only undertook individual orders for around £500-1200 for a three piece suit. Wholesalers didn’t have the right styles and much of their material felt cheap to the touch. I got fabric samples sent from all around the world and spent way too much money testing different suit styles.
I had to dive deep into the science that is traditional British suit making. I reached out to one tailor in London, who let me spend a week with him learning about everything that goes into making a tweed suit right. Cloth weight, flaps, vents, lining, herringbone, check, houndstooth, barleycorn, and most importantly getting sizing right.
After spending time with him I was completely clear on what I wanted. And with designs in hand I was able to find a workshop that could accommodate not just the styles I wanted, but also the craftsmanship and quality of material I was looking for.
These suits (now available on our site) were different in every way. You can really feel the love and care that has been put into stitching them. And the best part? Because we were cutting out the rent of a storefront, shop assistants and all those unnecessary extras, which are normally passed on to the customer, we were able to offer the same high quality, if not higher, at a third of the cost. Nice.
I asked my friend David to build a website and since then it has just taken off at breakneck speed. The first month we sold 20 suits. The next month 50 and some months we even have over 100 orders. I had to quit my job in IT and spend all my time answering emails.
We had many returns in the first couple of months because of size issues. People don’t know how to measure themselves of course, and I wasn’t very good at explaining it initially. I also discovered that few people even know their own true waist size. I learned, the hard way, that high street shops and jeans brands use something called “Vanity Sizing”: If the jeans measure 37 inches around the waist, they call it a size 34. Pretty confusing.
To alleviate this issue (and keep my head from spinning from all the emails) I hired an American girl called Tonya who has sizing experience from the fashion industry. She totally revamped the way I was doing sizing and customer service. To each order we receive she sends an email detailing exactly how to measure yourself, with pictures and instructions. She even goes over the sizes to see if they match up to a normal sized individual. After she has come aboard we hardly ever have returns because the sizes are always on point.
In the last year we‘ve sold over 1000 suits ! I haven’t exactly become a wealthy cloth merchant, at least not yet, but the thank you emails and photo reviews that we receive daily make it all worth it. Hearing people’s stories of added confidence and self worth, pictures of happy couples on their wedding day, matching groom and groomsmen in tweed suits are my favourite news. It warms my heart to know that I have helped, even in a small way, peoples lives. I know I’m not saving the world by making tweed suits, but it sure feels good to hear that my work makes people feel happy and confidant.
Its also a pleasure to be able to keep the traditional look of tweed alive. It’s a style that I love myself and personally I think it suits just about every man I meet. I’ve kept the collection small and simple and only sell styles that I believe in myself. (Unlike the first suit I bought).
And if for any reason our customers aren’t satisfied with their suit we make it easy and seamless (no pun intended) to exchange or refund it through our no-questions-asked returns policy which lasts 30 days (unlike the second suit I bought).
Just because you aren’t coming into a physical store doesn’t mean you are not going to have full service and support throughout your buying process. Tonya and I are always a phone call or an email away.
In short we’ve strived to make Tweed Suits great again, and accessible to all at the touch of your fingertips.
We’re happy to keep tweed and gentlemanly class alive in the modern day and don’t think it is going anywhere anytime soon. We’re looking forward to helping you the next time you need to look your best.
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Martin & Tonya from