A Technology Based Disruption in High End Suiting

Brand Management
February 25, 2015

While I am not in the market for a suit right now, I’ve heard from a variety of sources about technology had entered into the high-end suit market. While at the beginning of the semester, I found it hard to believe that any company was finding success in high-end fashion without a brick and mortar presence or with an extremely limited one, I found that the high end market for suits was no different.

Enter Knot Standard, the first online source I stumbled on that will make you a custom suit at a fraction of the cost of your typical tailor. Knot standard asks you to take a few measurements of yourself and take some pictures using a webcam to help them create a 3D model of yourself. From this, Knot Standard creates a pattern and “laser cuts and hand assembles” a suit for you based on your choice of fabric, cut, pleats, and a variety of other considerations.

A photo from Knot Standard of two people wearing Knot Standard suits

After reading about this on their website, I felt the need to understand the suit market a little bit better and understand the different “levels” of suits.

At the very top is a bespoke suit, which is what Knot Standard provides. Using measurements and some directions from the buyer as well as several fittings, a bespoke suit is assembled. Bespoke suits are custom and start with a pattern specifically created for each customer. A step down from this is a made to measure suit. Much like a bespoke suit, measurements are taken, but a pattern exists that is adjusted to fit the buyer and only a limited number of options are available to the customer to change with the suit.

The next step down is an off-the-rack suit. This is what I have and most people you know probably have a suit bought off the rack. A suit like this might be ready to be worn when you leave the store or may require minor alteration. In most of the cases I’ve experienced, the pants aren’t made to a particular length when they are purchased and have to be hemmed before they can be worn.

The last kind of suit is suit separates. When you buy suit separates, you are buying the pants and jacket separately. These are really good if you have funny proportions like I did at the end of middle school. Finding a suit that is cut right for an awkward kid going through puberty is hard, so being able to buy the pants and jacket at different sizes is super helpful.

Alterations and made to measure at Nordstrom's

Alterations and made to measure at Nordstrom’s

While it isn’t necessarily obvious if you don’t have a great deal of knowledge about suits, Knot Standard is a huge threat to the market for bespoke, made to measure, and high end off-the-rack suits. Knot Standard suits start at just under $500, which is considerably less than the cheapest made to measure suits at Nordstrom’s ($795), Brook’s Brothers ($648), or your average local bespoke or made to measure suit.  A fairly decent off the rack suit can be found for around $300 or less, but might require tailoring.

 

Brooks Brother's Custom suits and shirts

Brooks Brother’s Custom suits and shirts

Stores like Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom’s would be smart to look to buy into the online bespoke and made to measure suit market.  This could be used as a springboard to their more premium suiting products. If either of these premium apparel companies or other similar brands do decide to enter this market, co-branding opportunities add value to both companies or don’t damage the big brother brands will be crucial to future success.

 

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