My quest began online. I first ran through the plethora of brands at department stores and retailers to see what was out there (Nordstrom’s, Brooks Brothers, Saks, Neiman’s, MySuitNY, Polo, Zegna etc). I looked at almost everything; I did not want to rule anything out without seeing it first. I was generally turned off by most of what I saw at online department stores, however, this did not deter me from stopping at Nordstrom’s and Nieman’s. I wanted see a lot of different manufacturers suits’ in a short period of time. Within an hour I was able to try suits on from Hart Schaffer Marx, Joseph Abboud, Burberry, Peter Millar, Canali, Armani, Zegna, Brioni and Kiton. Zegna fit the best, my goal was to find something that fit and felt like the Zegna I tried on. The construction and quality of Zegna, Brioni and Kiton was amazing. Unfortunately they were all completely out of my price range (I also believe that if you’re spending that much on a suit you should be going bespoke). However, it is a good idea to see what great suit feels like for reference.
I then began searching on eBay for discounted suits from Zegna and Oxxford. I was able to find some great deals, however, still a little out of my price range. I also stopped at the Oxxford store in Manhattan, the craftsmanship of their jackets is nothing short of stunning and the fit of the Type A was great. I finally came to the realization that I would not be able to find a suit from any of these top shelf suit houses for a price I could afford. I began looking into discount retailers such as Syms, Filene’s Basement and Century 21. I also looked at MySuitNY. Although I was impressed by the customizable options on their suits I was turned off by the mediocre quality, poor salesmanship, mixed reviews, high degree of structure in the jacket and the quality of fabrics (however, I am exceedingly curious about their suits and may have to purchase one in the future).
Syms and Filene’s both had a solid spread of suits (Lauren Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Ben Sherman and a few other low end retailers). Most of the brands they carried were not up to my standards, but the prices were great. I would like to note that there were a few suits that on the label said ‘made in Italy’ and had Zegna tags on the inside of the jacket. I asked the salesman who made the suits and he claimed that they were made by Ermenegildo Zegna, FALSE. Although I could not identify the exact manufacturer, I knew that it was not Zegna; beware of deceitful and ignorant salesman and selling tactics like this. Anyway, I should note that Syms and Filene’s also carried some Hickey Freeman, Joseph Abboud and Oxxford suits. The fit, style and/or price was off for all of these except for one Joseph Abboud 6” drop suit (jacket size 40 and pants 34), this style was more geared toward someone with an athletic frame. The quality the Joseph Abboud suit was sufficient for my tastes; I believe JA suits are half canvassed. This suit was a dark charcoal base with white pinstripes, side vents, notched lapels, 2 button and Loro Piana wool. It fit my criteria, I was ready to purchase.
The next day I decided it would be wise to stop at Century 21 before purchasing the Abboud. I found the Holy Grail. Century 21 had some suits that were utter shit, like Filene’s and Syms. However, it also had some great suits like Brioni, Hickey Freeman and Robert Talbot Carmel. Brioni was out of my price range and there were no HFs that I liked. However, I found two gems amongst the Robert Talbot’s. Robert Talbot Carmel is a relatively high end label out of California; its styling is rather American. The suits are also made in America, I believe by Southwick. Talbott has been around for decades and got its start in neckties but has since expanded its offerings. The Talbott suits available were solid navy and solid charcoal. They were fully canvassed, had side vents, meaty lapels, 2 buttons, fit well, were of good construction and had a nice silhouette. The price was also right, $400 for a $1,300 suit. A damn fine deal. I was enamored and judged this to be a much better deal than the Abboud and likely the best deal I would find. I purchased both a charcoal and navy suit, mission accomplished.