Matthew A Perry Review

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I’ve just had a suit made by Matthew A Perry.

No, not that Matthew Perry. This isn’t a random start-up from a former primetime jokester.

Matthew A Perry is actually a designer, who has given his name to a group of Shanghai-based “hongbang” tailors, who craft made-to-measure suits for customers around the world.

“Hongbang” was the name given to Shanghai garment makers specialising in Western-style suits during the 1920s and 30s. Because Western-style suits were first introduced to the city by foreigners, many of whom had red hair and blue eyes at that time, people used the Chinese characters – “hong,” meaning red in Chinese, and “bang,” meaning group – to describe the craftsmen.

There aren’t many tailors of the “hongbang” tradition left. In the early 20th century, it was widely acknowledged that if you wanted a high-quality suit in Shanghai, you had to visit a “hongbang” tailor, who would follow a series of strict procedures to create a design, cut cloth and sew the final garment. In many ways, “hongbang” tailors were the Savile Row equivalent in Shanghai; revered and patronized by the wealthy and powerful.

Matthew A Perry, founded in 2005, relies on internet-based trade. Like many modern tailoring companies, it has developed an automated ordering system that allows customers to measure themselves, choose their favoured design of suit and pay in advance online. Their suit will then be delivered (free of charge) within a fortnight.

“Ok it’s fast” I hear you sigh impatiently “but is it any good?”

Well, yes and no.

I decided to try out a three-piece straw linen suit for the summer, given that most of my tailored suits are intended for the cooler months. I always thought straw linen goes well with blue shirts – of which I have many – and could give some of my tan shoes more wear in the summer time as I have an aversion to wearing dark suits with tan shoes. Ordering was very easy. Aside from my measurements, I supplied detail on pockets, lapels and waistcoat buttons.

I waited a little over two weeks for the suit to arrive. When it did, I was somewhat perplexed by the contrast between the trousers (which were absolutely spot-on) and the waistcoat (which actually fit worse than one off-the-rack). The jacket, arguably the hardest item to get right straight off the bat was actually quite good. There was some excess width in the shoulders, and the back seam stitching was causing the vent to open up when it was buttoned. There was also a little less sculpting at the jacket waist than I would have liked and the ‘canvas’ was giving little shape to the front, but the jacket needed less work than the one I had made by Massimo Dutti – for which I received a fitting.

The waistcoat was therefore something of a disappointment. Even with the buckle securely tightened, it was too large around the chest, which caused the panels to ripple extravagantly when fastened. I can only imagine that, in China, this is the way waistcoats are favoured; I personally prefer them to be very tightly fitting, even a summer linen one.

When I contacted Matthew A Perry, they offered money towards alterations, which I had completed at my favourite tailor, Cad & The Dandy.

So was the experience worth it? Overall, I would say that it is. I am happy with the altered suit. It’s not perfect, but then it’s priced at roughly $300 (including delivery). The process is a little unusual and it feels strange not to receive a fitting from anyone – particularly when you are dealing with traders whose first language is not English.

However, it is quite clear that they are very eager to please and provide a service of value for their customers. Their emphasis is on fit (don’t expect details like working cuffs, unless you ask for them) and I could sense their genuine disappointment that the waistcoat was not up to scratch.

It’s not all blind buying either. You can order swatches of fabric for the suits and if the suit is deemed unalterable by a local tailor, Matthew A Perry will remake it for free. It might sound like the tailoring equivalent of fast street-food but it’s honest about what it is and what it does; provide value for money custom tailoring – without the margin-hunting bluff of being ‘bespoke.’


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Sorry, but that suits looks horrible on you.
    It doesn’t fit and looks too big. It also looks like you slept in it and needs pressing.

    Even $300 seems too much for the low end quality looking suite.

  2. Tim,

    I personally disagree that it is ‘too big.’ What exactly is ‘too big’ for you?

    As for it needing pressing, I did state that it was linen. Some people don’t care for the character of linen in a suit – I do. This is what happens to proper linen when you wear it.

    ‘Low end quality looking suite’ – you’re not by any chance a rival Chinese tailor are you?

  3. Tim says:

    Ha,ah… no I’m not a tailor….
    Looking back at the picures…ok it’s not too but for but I think the wrinkles are throwing it off making it look a funny fit. Your sleeves look short but that’s how you prefer them. I think it’s just the wrinkles that are killing it for me.

    Cheers!

  4. Tim says:

    Ha,ah… no I’m not a tailor….
    Looking back at the picures…ok it’s not too big for you but I think the wrinkles are throwing it off making it look a funny fit. Your sleeves look short but that’s how you prefer them. I think it’s just the wrinkles that are killing it for me.

    Cheers!

  5. Ben says:

    Winston, thanks for posting this helpful review. The suit looks pretty good, especially at that price point.

    Can you tell us what brand/maker is your shirt? Looks great on you – especially the collar – and I’d like to look into the vendor.

  6. Paul Briden says:

    Winston,

    Always nice to see more reviews of more affordable suiting services such as this one. This is exactly the section of market I can appreciate, wanting something that isn’t necessarily better quality than off-the-rack but can be customised to the sort of style you’re after, rather than accepting whatever is currently fashionable. Between this and your review of Massimo Dutti I’ve now got a few options to turn to where previously there were, apparently, none.

    However, following the link to the site I notice there’s not a great deal of choice at present, I’m assuming you chose your linen suit earlier in the year when the range consisted of more warm weather options? Considering we’re now approaching Autumn/Winter it seems odd that there’s a distinct lack of three-piece suits and thicker fabrics.

  7. Mens Ties says:

    It’s always risky buying a suit online, but as you say the vendor is willing to work with you to make sure you are happy, so it takes some of that risk out of the purchase. I think the suit looks great and the tie looks very good too!