Made-to-Measure with Arden Reed

The resurgence of menswear and the Internet boom are an obvious gold mine for business ideas. It seems like every week I hear of a new online, made-to-measure suit company popping up and trying to make a name for themselves in this new world. For us as consumers this means we have access to more and more choices than ever. The beauty of the wild-west mentality online is that it allows truly great companies to rise to the top while the rest fade away.

One such company that has the potential to rise is Arden Reed. These guys reached out to me a few months ago and wanted to know if I heard of them and had any interest in reviewing one of their suits.While I get a number of requests for the same opportunity and turn them down, the partner at Arden Reed who contacted me struck me as legitimate enough that I wanted to learn more. I specifically remember him saying, “give us a good review, rip us to shreds, we don’t much care because both will help us improve our business in different ways.”

It’s a good business approach and a refreshing conversation to have as a blogger/reviewer.

So what makes Arden Reed and their clothing so special? The honest answer is – nothing… just yet. Their current line of offerings is fairly slim. For now they only offer six fabric options and all of them fall safely within the “conservative” category. Black, midnight navy, grey, and charcoal with either solid or pinstriped options is all you really have to choose from. They sent me a solid midnight navy and here’s how it looks.

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My first impression was that the color was extremely dark. In fact, unless I was in direct sunlight, I had a hard time telling if it was navy or black. However, the more I wore it, the more the color grew on me. There’s something about a dark suit that isn’t quite black. It looks serious, professional, and even a bit dangerous if the fit is right.

The fit on this was off in a few places. From the pictures you can see it’s too small in the thighs, jacket seat, jacket waist, and sleeve width (with french-cuff shirts). It’s also too large in the shoulders. None of these are offensive size differences but they do prevent the fit from being perfect. One thing I’ll caution to any readers who are considering buying from Arden Reed or any other online MTM company is to follow the company’s specific measurement instructions. They all work based off of different templates and measurement allowances. So a measurement taken for one company won’t necessarily translate to another.

Thankfully AR’s concern for customer satisfaction is on par with the other big names in the MTM world. The original pants I received were too small. After confirming they couldn’t be let out by my tailor, I let AR know and they sent me a new pair within a couple of weeks. This kind of service costs the company money and it’s always good to see a brand willing to take an initial hit for the purpose of establishing loyalty. It’s a mutually beneficial approach.

Other than the fit in a few areas I’ve only had one other problem. There is some sort of ionization effect going on with the wool that makes it the strongest lint magnet I’ve ever seen.

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Yes lint is more visible against a darker fabric, but this suit is near impossible to keep clean. I’m unsure if this is a fluke or the norm, or if it’s part of the manufacturing or shipping process. Either way, this suit is much higher maintenance than the others in my closet.

Overall the product and process are  what you can expect from a relatively new MTM company who is trying to make a name for themselves. The return and alteration practices have become pretty boilerplate and their current list of fabric choices leaves a lot to be desired.

All that being said, I believe Arden Reed is a company to keep your eye on. If you spend some time on their website you’ll soon see that they’re dedicated to their specific target demographic. While other MTM companies come across as suits-and-shirts only, AR is selling you the whole package. They’re working on becoming consultants and teachers on top of providing a product. Check out their infographic about how to wear a suit. Their emphasis on how to use their products to build a specific look is encouraging and, as they grow, their fabric library will as well.

The final verdict from me is that this is a company already worth purchasing from if you’re looking for a darker, more conservative business suit and that these guys are just beginning to hit their stride.

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