Review: Craftsman Co made-to-measure suede jacket

Wednesday, November 23rd 2016
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A couple of months ago I started the process of trialling Craftsman Co, a new and small Hong Kong-based company that is making leather and suede jackets.

The process was smooth and well run, but the end results were a little mixed: good but not perfect fit, and some quality issues.

craftsman-co-suede-blouson

Craftsman Co was set up in 2015 by three young menswear enthusiasts who met on a forum in Hong Kong.

They observed that their options for buying leather jackets were largely over-priced fashion brands or low-quality high-street stores, both of which changed their collections every season.

So they set up Craftsman Co to produce classic designs, at a high level of quality but below designer prices.

All the jackets are made to order, and all sales online. So they take full advantage in their pricing of having no stock, no overheads, and local (Hong Kong) manufacturing.

They also offer a made-to-measure service for a small uplift, which is what I tried. This added $50 to the ready-to-wear price of $880.

craftsman-co-suede-jacket

The MTM process involves taking a set of measurements on yourself (I involved a local tailor) and then being sent a voile fitting to try on and note alterations. You also take photos at both stages.

The design I picked was the A1 flying jacket in snuff suede. The guys sent across several samples of suedes and linings on a card, and even secured a different version of the snuff.

However, one thing it was difficult to judge was the final colour, from just a small sliver of the suede.

The resulting jacket was more orange than I anticipated, and between the two options of a lighter-coloured ribbing (shown here) and a darker version, I should perhaps have chosen the latter.

bespoke-suede-blouson

The fitting I received was pretty good - just a little big in the waist and long in the sleeves. Small adjustments.

The final jacket, however, had a few issues. The fit in the waist was good, as was the length of the body and sleeves. But it was tight across the chest and shoulders, and my sloping shoulders could have been better dealt with at the front.

The fit was still better than most RTW options, but there were obvious areas that could be improved.

Although it’s not necessarily a fair comparison - given his experience and being done face to face - the fit of my jacket from Davide Taub at Gieves & Hawkes was a lot better.

craftsman-co-hong-kong-blouson

The quality of the suede was decent, if not amazing. On a par, for example, with Ralph Lauren Polo suede jackets I’ve had, but not Purple Label.

The buttons and hardware were good, as was the bemberg lining.

The work inside, however, was a little uneven. In the image above, look at the finishing around the side of the inside pockets, where the same spot has been repeatedly sewn over back and forth, leaving quite a messy finish.

brown-suede-blouson

I think there’s potentially a good service here if Craftsman Co can improve their fitting process further and correct some quality issues. After all, there are few MTM leather jackets out there under $1000.

For the moment, I’m concentrating on having some of my RTW jackets altered - which has the the advantage of being able to see the design and leather first hand, and then improve its fit.

More on that in December.

Shirt: denim-linen from Luca Avitabile

Jeans: My mid-rise bespoke Levi's in Cone Mills denim. Wearing in very nicely - some sick fades

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

craftsman-co-jacket

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Viktor

Dear Simon, looks great! I have one very similar jacket bought at Dorianis, heavily lined in a beautiful cashmere. Sadly it’s a tad large now that I’ve lost some weight, do you know if one could alter a leather jacket like that? Who’d you give it to?

Mervyn Davies

Hi,

I believe the correct nomenclature is “sick fades”.

Mervyn Davies

I believe you can only be considered a true denim head if your jeans are raw, non sanforised, thirty years old and have never been washed (apart from a quick dip in the Californian Pacific, followed by a roll in the sand)

Anonymous

Simon

As a young-ish reader, it’s great to see you continuing to experiment with more casual pieces rather than preaching the formal jacket/shirt/tie-even-at-weekends mantra espoused elsewhere. Hard to tell fit from the photos but it looks great. I picked up a similar jacket from Eidos recently but made from navy casentino wool, suprisingly versatile. Cheers.

Tony Hart

Simon Compton stars as The Tango Man!!

Wooster2

I love your pieces on casual (bespoke) wear! Would like to see more of them. Nice jacket, but not my colour.

ANM

Simon,

As usual, an interesting read.

Although all of us are “unique” in our physical requirements compared to a chart “normal”, you appear to be relatively trim etc.

Have you ever thought of having an associate who is perhaps less “ideal” come alone, and get a similar garment made to see how someone tall and slender, or perhaps more portly was serviced?

Is it possible some tailors are better “suited” to work with the truly difficult to fit, given that their goals may be someone different (working around body shape, limb-length etc.)

I am not sure, perhaps they would have a different take on the outcome ?

David

Very interesting question from ANM.
Although your articles about your personal commissions are always very insightful, the six million dollar question that remains unanswered is with what level of skill do tailors adapt their house styles to deal with the long, broad and short of it ?
It would be great if you could find a way to address this issue. In reality this is what bespoke is all about.

Michael

Nice jacket! I was wondering if you’d compared it to something like the A-1 from the Aero Leather Company in Scotland? I don’t think they offer a specifically made to measure option, but I know people go to the factory and can be measured. For the price, it would be interesting to see how their less MTM version compared.

Pliny

As with any leather garment, the quality of the leather is key, and as I understand it, access to the best leather is tricky for a new player.

Per

What shoes are you wearing in this outfit?

Brgds

ben w

“sick fades” is not something I expected to see here!

Pat

Hi Simon,

Considering the price of Craftsman, will their jackets be a better investment to a Valstar?

Is the quality of leather on par with Valstar?

You also mentioned in the post there are other MTM leather makers out there under €1000- can you tell me who they are? I know the recent Anglo-Intalian does one under £1k.

Thanks

Pat

Hi Simon,

Interesting that you said to go for Valstar considering the price of them are circa £700 compared to the $950 of Craftman- that’s more or less the same price so wouldn’t one go for Craftman for the added benefits of fit, choice of colour, lining etcetc.

Quite intrigued why you said to go for Valstar?

Regarding the comment about other MTM leather jacket makers- it’s actually in this post-
this is what you said-
“I think there’s potentially a good service here if Craftsman Co can improve their fitting process further and correct some quality issues. After all, there are few MTM leather jackets out there under $1000.”

Pat

Thanks Simon,

Looks like I need to brush up on my English first before doing anything else!

Can beat a good leather jacket.

Bernie

Hi Simon,

I’ll be doing an in-person bespoke safari jacket with them and was wondering if an unlined navy lambsuede safari jacket was appropriate for summer/spring. Would wool work better? I’d like to wear the jacket out casually and dress it up during work.

I personally love the look and feel of suede but wonder if it will be too hot to wear even if unlined in Southern California weather.

brett

Simon
This looks like a relevant post. Looking for good quality suede jacket, under $1000 US. It appears you said very few if any makers as of late 2016. Anything change? Take on Schott,suede ? Or newcomers to the game, you can recommend?
or worth spending the Valstar as for fit/quality, value even if north of 1K?

brett

thanks simon
quick follow up. in your opinion is the valstarino (post you had on brown suede 3 ways ) true to size, im usually 38. you get more wear out of that or the reversible valsatarino with waterproof lining? which is your favourite.