With many online made-to-measure tailors on the market today, it’s becoming a challenge to find a distinguishing brand. We discovered Black Lapel in late 2018 and thought it to be just another online suit retailer.
However, in this review of Black Lapel, you’ll quickly learn why the brand has distinguished itself in today’s crowded market of made-to-measure suits.
In this review, you’ll read about the my experience of the online ordering process for made-to-measure suits touching on the following points:
In this review, you’ll read about the step-by-step process of ordering a suit from Black Lapel. You’ll learn how to easily set up an account as well as take measurements and customise the suit for yourself.
Furthermore, you’ll discover the steps Black Lapel has taken to guarantee a Flawless Fit with its expert tailors and second opinion service.
Finally, this review will finish by taking a closer look at Black Lapel’s suit itself as well as any alterations that were performed following its delivery.
After having creating your own Black Lapel account, you’ll need to begin by taking your measurements. Even if you’ve already measured yourself for a suit, it’s highly recommended that you follow Black Lapel’s own procedure.
This is because every online tailor has its slight nuances and different techniques for obtaining the right measurements. Therefore, transferring them across from one site to another can lead to disastrous results!
Black Lapel’s Online Measuring Process
When you begin, you’ll first be presented with the choice of imperial or metric units. As a European, this was a refreshing change as not all North American retailers offer this possibility.
In the same window, you are then requested to fill in your height and weight for a basic overview of your profile. However, you needn’t stress to much about getting this right as I’ll explain below.
What’s quite interesting is the window that follows where you select silhouettes to find the body type that fits your description the most. This includes posture, shoulder structure, and evenness.
Finally, you’ll be given the option to choose a suit cut preference, which can be slim, tailored or standard.
Once these steps have been completed, the interface will calculate approximate measurements as a reference throughout the rest of the process. However, make sure that you measure your own properly as these estimations won’t guarantee a good fit.
Each measurement is presented as a short video with detailed overlays and a voiceover to help you find where to measure. Once completed, you will be presented by a breakdown of all your measurements.
These can be revised individually if you need to make any changes. Furthermore, I really like how you can change certain measurements for specific garments.
For instance, you might want to take the waist in on a vest yet have it different for a jacket or overcoat. Alternatively, you may like to customise the difference in sleeve length between a jacket and shirt.
Extra Steps For A Flawless Fit
Perhaps my favourite feature of the process was being able to submit photos for Black Lapel’s tailors to consult. By simply adding a front, back and profile photo of your body, the tailors can cross-check your measurements and make corrections.
This proved to be particularly beneficial in my case as the personnel noticed that a few tweaks needed to be made on my posture compared to the silhouettes I had chosen previously.
Similarly, the tailoring team noticed that my left arm was slightly longer and accounted for this by added just over a centimetre in extra length.
As for the measurements themselves, I requested to retake a few as the tailoring team noticed some anomalies. The results were then checked again to make sure that they were coherent with the rest as well as my photos.
Overall, was particularly reassuring to know that my measurements weren’t simply uploaded to a database but verified by real experts!
Choosing and customising a suit with Black Lapel is very easy. While the interface may not be as sexy as Hockerty’s 3D designer, it proved to be simpler to navigate. Unlike Indochino’s check boxes, it wasn’t easy to miss out on any customisation options either.
Instead, you’re presented with your suit and can select either “customise now” or “customise for me”. While the latter conveniently does this automatically, it doesn’t necessarily offer the best options.
Furthermore, it is a very straightforward process to do manually so you don’t really lose out on extra time. Customising your suit simply walks you through the various styling options for each garment. These are illustrated with small black and white sketches, which you select before proceeding to the following garment.
During this, Black Lapel highlight the options that they recommend go best with the suit choice. However, you have the freedom to choose what you want.
You can also customise hidden details like the lining as well as adding a monogram to your suit. All of these extras are free and there are no hidden costs throughout the process.
Adding & Customising A Waistcoat
Perhaps the only extra cost would be for the option to add a vest. While this presents a surcharge of at lest $99, we always add a waistcoat when we can. You don’t have to wear it every time but it offers you a much greater range of styling options when wearing the suit.
Otherwise, the only real difference in price when ordering from Black Lapel is due to the original choice of fabric. Therefore, you can be certain not to find yourself with a final invoice that’s greater than you initially expected.
Black Lapel states that the production process for their suits can take between three to four weeks. Meanwhile, the premium Savoy line can a week take longer. Although this is longer than either Indochino or Hockerty, I believe that it’s worth the wait.
I originally placed my order in mid-December 2018 and the suit arrived exactly a month later in its well-presented box. However, I’ll be talking about the presentation a little later.
As soon as it arrived, I tried the suit on immediately and I was impressed by just how well it fit! Having ordered from a number of other online made-to-measure sites, I was expecting more alterations or even a remake.
Nevertheless, I took advantage of Black Lapel’s second opinion service and photos similar to the measurement profile with me wearing the suit.
Here, I was recommended to take in the waistcoat’s chest as well as the trouser’s waist. I also opted to shorten the leg slightly as the break was a little too strong to my taste. There was also talk of shortening a single sleeve but I was happy with its current length.
As you’ll learn in our Black Lapel brand guide, there’s a Flawless Fit guarantee with every purchase. This means that Black Lapel will cover costs of up to $75 for alterations or perform an entire remake from scratch if it would require too much to modify.
This can be performed at a local tailor and you’re reimbursed after submitting the invoice. If any measurements are listed on the invoice, Black Lapel will modify your profile to anticipate future orders.
Final Result & Suit Quality Review
Now that we’ve explored the whole process of ordering the suit, let’s talk about the product itself!
Arriving in a branded black box, the suit is carefully packed into a small space. Along with the suit itself, it came with a white carrier, which is a refreshing change from the typical black design.
Furthermore, it arrived with a guide from Black Lapel’s blog on how to fold a suit for travelling. This was pretty convenient as I was taking it with me to the Dominican Republic for Bespoke Unit trip to Davidoff Cigars.
Black Lapel Details
Looking for something more conservative than my usual wardrobe choices, I opted for a versatile navy blue suit that can be worn for all occasions. Thanks to its lightweight half-canvas construction, the navy blue Black Lapel suit also functions as a garment that can be worn throughout the year.
For my order, I took advantage of the customisation options available. I particularly enjoyed details such as functional surgeon cuffs as well as monogramming inside the jacket.
Furthermore, I was very happy with my dark bordeaux lining that popped nicely with matching accent stitching on the boutonnière and cuffs. I also opted for an extra flapped ticket pocket on the jacket as well as a handmade pick stitching finish.
As mentioned earlier, I added a waistcoat for which I chose five buttons as well as the back that matched the inner lining.
Instead of belt loops, I chose side tabs as well as suspenders buttons as I tend to prefer braces. Additionally, I wanted to have a hint of vintage in the look and added an option for a single outward pleat on the trousers.
I also noticed that the trouser cuff came with extra fabric. Not only will it reduce wear but the extra weight improves the drape.
While I noticed there were slightly fewer options than Hockerty, I did find that all the freedom offered here was enough to provide a comprehensive made-to-measure experience. Furthermore, there were no extra costs while Hockerty charges for lining, accent stitching as well as monogramming.
Black Lapel Fabric & Fit
As mentioned above, I was very happy with the initial fit. The few alterations rendered the suit complete and remarkably comfortable. While the fabric itself was much lighter than I expected, it draped nicely over my shoulders and chest.
The waistcoat is a good length and doesn’t ride up to reveal the dress shirt. Meanwhile, I intentionally asked for a slightly tighter jacket as I intend to lose weight. Therefore, there may be a touch of rippling in the photos.
Nevertheless, they were minor and the jacket actually fit quite nicely. After all, you don’t want a jacket that’s too loose that it hangs over the chest and stomach. As for the trousers, they sit nicely on the hips while the front pleats don’t stretch across the thigh.
Similarly, the buttoning point was at a pleasant height a few inches below the solar plexus.
Although the arm holes felt a little high, they didn’t restrict any movement. That said, there was a touch of rippling along the triceps but it wasn’t prevalent. Otherwise, I struggled to find many other anomalies or issues with the suit’s fit and cut.
In today’s online market, Black Lapel may seem like one of the most premium options for a made-to-measure suit. However, bear in mind that the next best thing would be a premium bespoke suit.
For a $500 made-to-measure suit, the fit was indeed excellent. Compared to the other services that we have tried, I was left speechless by how close Black Lapel were for a first order.
While there were indeed some extremely minor imperfections, I don’t won’t to obsess and nitpick over them. Furthermore, there were fewer than some other suits that we had tried.
Overall, the end result reflects the investment very well. If it were a bespoke suit where the service cost over $1,000, I would expect perfection. However, Black Lapel costs half the amount and offers an altogether different service.
Nevertheless, if I were to compare Black Lapel to a designer off-the-rack suit, then Black Lapel would win every time. Again, though, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Why Buy From Black Lapel?
If you’re looking for a reliable and authentic made-to-measure service, Black Lapel is among our favourites given that their range of fabrics and their quality are hard to beat at their prices.
Furthermore, it’s Black Lapel’s online service that is where the brand really shines. While I never had any direct face-to-face contact with a human being, I knew that my order was being treated with care rather than just another number.
Their tailoring service double-checks your measurements and provides you with the opportunity to upload photos, which offers true peace of mind. Similarly, the second opinion service helps you realise that Black Lapel is serious about their Flawless Fit promise.
Finally, if you hadn’t noticed by our banners, we were so impressed that reached out to Black Lapel asking for a discount for our readers. Therefore, you can benefit from a $50 reduction on your first order when using the code “FTOBESPOKEUNIT”.
Black Lapel Online Made-to-Measure Suits
Reviewed by Charles-Philippe, on
"A genuinely remarkable service. What Black Lapel offers over the competition is a much more reliable online service that better guarantees an excellent fit the first time."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
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Charles-Philippe's work has covered a broad range of subjects from cigars and fragrances to wine and spirits. Fascinated by how history and culture together form the unique contemporary identities of alcoholic beverages, his articles follow an in-depth exploration of their development through a combination of tradition and innovation.