Kenjiro Suzuki bespoke, Paris: Review

Wednesday, July 1st 2020
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Kenjiro Suzuki is a superb technician. 

I think that’s the key take away from this review, aside from the normal points of fit, style and make. 

The work that went into this cotton suit he made me is just palpable, both in the handwork visible on the outside and the shape created by the work on the inside.

It is a piece of art, an example of the best that bespoke can be. 

The style is not what I would instinctively go for these days, with its higher waist, shorter jacket and bellied lapels. But I know it will appeal to others. The fit is also good, and I’ll cover both those aspects in detail. 

But particular attention will be given to the technical side of Kenjiro's work, its originality and its rigour. 

Cotton has little drape, as I’ve said many times before, and therefore a bespoke cotton suit is never going to flow as a fine worsted would. 

But still, Kenjiro has achieved a great fit. It feels sculpted to the upper body, perfectly accommodating my sloping shoulders and the curved run into the upper arm. 

During our fittings and interview, Kenjiro talked repeatedly about shaping the garment, about working the cloth into a mould to encase the body. And the chest and shoulders do feel like that. 

He has developed his own range of both canvas and shoulder pads, which likely helps. For my suit, he used a fairly structured canvas but the lightest pad.

He was at pains to point out that it would be much easier to use a slightly thicker pad on one side, given my right shoulder is lower than my left (most people have a similar difference). But he considers that cheating, and would always shape both sides differently instead. 

The back of the suit isn’t quite as clean as the front, but most of that should be put down to the material. 

And the side view shows the shape nicely, while also illustrating the slightly short length and the lack of suppression in the back. This space is a useful thing to have on cotton, as it has so little stretch; but still, it is something I might ask Kenjiro to tweak next time I see him. 

It’s also worth looking at the line of the trousers in that side view. Because Kenjiro goes to extreme lengths to shape the cloth of the legs, creating an S-shape that follows the curves of the thigh and calf. 

Above you can see his before-and-after photos from another customer’s trousers. He works on the trouser with an iron for about 50 minutes to achieve that shaping.  

As to the difference it makes, I’m not sure anyone would notice unless it was pointed out.

They do hang very nicely for slim trousers, and never get stuck on my calves. But still it is a very subtle point. 

The make of the suit elsewhere is absolutely first class. The level you would expect from a top French tailor, plus - perhaps - some extra Japanese attention to detail. 

The buttonholes (below) are fine, the Milanese-style buttonhole in the lapel (above) perfect, and the edge stitching and tack stitches meticulous.

But in a few places there are also a few more stitches, perhaps smaller ones too, than on other French suits. On the back of the collar, on round parts of the lining, and on the internal work like the chest canvas (above). 

The breast pocket is also particularly nice. Straight but subtly angled, with precise corners. The kind of thing a good coatmaker would appreciate (see previous post). 

The in-breast pockets are also beautiful. They’re cut into the facing itself, which curves deeply around the two openings.

And they’re angled slightly: perhaps not as much as the photo suggests, but definitely with a forward slant. It looks odd, but actually functions very well. 

The internal hip pocket, which also displays the brand name, is equally well executed. Though if I had to choose, I probably think the design of the Camps de Luca ‘teardrop’ pocket is more pleasing. 

Returning to the canvas and pads, Kenjiro has offers four levels of canvas: classic (for most suits), softer (suit or jacket, soft style), very soft (only casual jackets) and the softest, for virtually unstructured suits. 

We used the classic on my suit, as Kenjiro was particularly keen to create an attractive chest profile (which probably explains why the fit feels so good there). He also usually sews the shoulder seam by hand, to give it more flexibility, and angles it backwards (something seen more often with Anderson & Sheppard). 

Those things, he says, enable him to create four shoulder styles: concave (more common at Smalto, similar to Sexton), natural (mine), rounded (very natural) and American (a smaller, compact shoulder). 

These styles are hard to explain and really need illustration: I’ll do a follow-up post. 

Finally, above you can see Kenjiro’s six (six!) types of shoulder pad. He rarely uses numbers 2 and 3, and says most French tailors use them and number 1. These are ready-made. 

The ones he uses most are the other three, which are all constructed in-house. These are a ‘classic’ pad, ‘leaf’ (the second thinnest, above) and ‘leaf canvas’ (thinnest). There is also the option of having no pad at all, for those unstructured jackets. 

We used the ‘leaf canvas’, as Kenjiro wanted to show the clean shoulder line he could achieve. And I have to say it is probably the best result I’ve seen from a shoulder with basically no padding.

On style, the most important points to look at are the high-buttoning point and lapel/collar shape. 

The (relatively) high button is something Kenjiro particularly favours. He likes the shape it enables him to get in the waist, and in his words “the movement it gives to the skirt, from the chest line down to the bottom of the jacket”. It is most akin to Huntsman in this respect. 

We had a long email conversation after the final suit was delivered, discussing all these points. As with the canvas and pad, it shows how actively Kenjiro thinks about his cut and style, which is something else he has in common with other Japanese craftsmen. Nothing is taken for granted.

The point most normal people will notice is the lapel and collar shape.

The lapel is not especially wide at the top, but has plenty of belly, which gives it width and curve as it runs upwards from the waist button. 

The top of the lapel is then quite flat, making the notch between it and the collar rather narrow. This is the ‘fish mouth’ shape that Smalto (where Kenjiro was previously head cutter) was known for, and you also see on some other French tailors. 

The difference between this and the other suit I’ve had made in that style (from Camps de Luca) is that the notch is cut deeper, making the fish-mouth shape more pronounced. 

On the Camps suit, it was a subtle style point that few people would notice. Here it is more obvious. 

Of course, Kenjiro has other styles - there are several notch shapes, mostly more conservative. But given this is the one he's best known for, it’s useful for other potential customers to see the effect of this lapel, if they’re considering a commission. 

In terms of the material and how it’s worn, regular readers will already know how much I like this cotton gabardine. It is lightweight, casual, and fades in a subtle way over time. I used the same one on my Musella-Dembech suit

I also re-read Alan Flusser’s words on it recently, which are worth repeating: "The cotton gabardine two-piece offers a soothing alternative to the typically dry, firm-feeling tropical worsted.

"The fine Italian cotton gabardine suit will wrinkle, but its satiny freshness and cool suppleness offer the humidified epidermis a princely measure of comfort."

The navy looks particularly nice, I’ve found, with a chambray like this linen from D’Avino, and my old favourite, the navy grenadine. 

It’s also the kind of suit I’m more likely to wear without a tie sometimes, given its casual texture. Though probably with suede loafers rather than these calf oxfords.

And those beautiful oxfords are my bespoke from Yohei Fukuda

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

Kenjiro’s suits start at €4800 (including VAT). He currently travels to Japan regularly, and plans to start coming to London.

For more information on his house and background, see our introductory article here

 

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Sebastian

I will trust your judgement on the craft so I will just say that it looks absolutely perfect. I’d go as far as saying this is my most favourite suit shape and style I’ve seen so far.

Anonymous

Great write up, Simon – I found the segment on the various types of padding particularly interesting. The suit as a whole looks lovely, however I personally find patch pockets on a suit jacket, even one in a casual cloth such as this, lends the jacket a bit of a bottom heavy look. The pockets do look very well finished, however.

Fernando

Thanks Simon! What’s the point of so much shaping in cotton trousers?Wouldn’t this drop off in 1 week of wear?
Also do you find use for your newest japanese shoes? They seem very business-y and not suitable for casual stuff which is a pity considering the level of make.

Fernando

Thank you, glad to hear that

Alex

Wow! That’s cheap for that kind of quality in Paris. Very impressive. Expected it to be €7k+. Looks very beautiful. For that level of workmanship he must be one of the best value either side of the channel.

Matt

Whilst I agree the front of the coat looks good, I am not a fan of the back. The horizontal ridge between your shoulder blades suggests tightness there, and the cloth is falling into the hollow of your back.

I’m interested in your comment about the neatness of the pick stitching though. I was always taught that this should be all but invisible if done well.

Thanks

Matt

Thanks Simon.

Not sure I understand the answer; it seems ok to comment on good fit from a photo, but not bad?

Thanks

Aidan

Morning Simon

I’ve never been asked by a tailor if I want the pick stitches to be hidden or to show. If it is a style detail, should I request it next time?

Thanks

Aidan

Which do you prefer?

Anonymous

Interesting article. There’s a few points I would raise as follows. The length of the jacket looks about perfect to me – at the joint of the thumb – although you’ve stated its on the shorter side. Would you lengthen it?

In contrast to the jacket I feel that the trousers are to slim and also appear to be slightly to short.

Thirdly, you stated that the use of a thicker should pad was considered by the maker as cheating but this would have masked the dropped shoulder and evened them out. The picture from behind clearly shows one shoulder lower. This may not be an issue for you depending on preference but one of the great things about bespoke is being able to address these things.

Jack

I’m no expert in this area, but just thinking about your comments in other posts about house style – and here you mention the relatively high buttoning point, would this then mean the length he has cut it in-keeping with his style and a longer length may make the skirt look too much? For reference I think this is one of the nicest commissions I’ve seen, period!

Robert

Interesting and enjoyable post, thank you! Can you tell what cloth you used for the suit?

Ricky Takhar

Simon,

What’s your thought on wearing a suit with an open neck shirt. I know you prefer a jacket and trousers with open necked shirts, does this only work with casual suits such as above?

I feel like it would only work with navy rather than grey, and shirt to be blue over white to soften the look.

Rupesh Bhindi

Hi Simon,

A very well made cotton suit, Are you able to provide the fabric code? Is it from the So cotton bunch Holland and sherry same bunch where you had the brown suit made by Elia Caliendo.

Rupesh Bhindi

I presume the colour is navy, although it looks a a few shades lighter and the colour is lovely even if its the natural daylight making it look lighter.

Simon

I lack the technical knowledge that some other readers do, but to my eye there’s only one word for this – outstanding.

It helps that navy is by far and away my favourite colour for anything, but even so.

Johannes

A question on sleeve length; Aren’t the sleeves just a little long on this suit jacket? Or is this a conscious/style decision? Especially if comparing to the photos of the Moreau MTM linen suit, the Orazio pink jacket or the Ciardi gun-club jacket. I’m really wondering since I’m trying to decide for myself if I should slightly (0.5-1 cm) lengthen the sleeves in a MTM jacket I just received. Do you have a guide to sleeve length somewhere on the site?

RIchard T Kreps

Cotton tends to wrinkle and retain odors fare more than wool. How will this cotton fabric hold up to more frequent dry cleanings ? Is shrinkage or fading a concern ? Please advise. Thanks

hugh

“If I had to choose, I probably think the design of the Camps de Luca ‘teardrop’ pocket is more pleasing”

Would you ever ask another tailor to replicate the CdL teardrop? And if not, would it be because they couldn’t execute it, or because that would be copying?

Troy

On the topic of replication… I really appreciate the look of french “frog-mouth” lapels, however, I’m not fond of structured shoulders typical of French makers.
Given this, would you rather ask a French tailor like Kenjiro to cut his house style but with a soft, Ciardi-like shoulder or ask the Ciardi brothers to cut their house style suit with a frog-mouth lapel like Kenjiro? Or is this just an insane idea I have glorified in my mind after months in isolation?

Anonymous

Is it frog mouth or fish mouth?

Otávio Silva

Beautiful suit, Simon! I have a question about the trousers, though. They have a lovely S shape, but wouldn’t it be a pain to press effectively? I always find that fine cotton trousers are very difficult to press at the crease line, given the material doesn’t keep it well. That fact makes me think that the S curve on the leg would make pressint at the crease line even more difficult.

Stephen Dolman

Hi Simon,
Do you normally dry clean your suits/tailoring once a year as a matter of course?
I try to keep dry cleani
ng to an absolutely minimum & steam garments after a couple of outings.

Unless you have a really excellent dry cleaner, I prefer to take the garments to a good tailor & have them sponged and pressed as necessary.
I find that it’s not so much the cleaning that does harm, it’s the pressing if not in expert hands.
I would appreciate your comments
Revgards
Stephen

Jason

A fine piece of work but don’t you think it would have been better to commission his ‘softest’ canvas for a suit in this cloth ?
It probably would have made for a more louche look.
As things stand, this risks to look like a formal suit in a casual cloth.

SC

Superb make, though I would prefer a slightly fuller and longer trouser and more suppression of the back. Is there any particular defining signature feature of a Suzuki suit that is obvious, such as Cifonelli shoulder etc? Would you say the level of make is of the same caliber of Cifonelli, CDL, C&M, and MB? If so, the price €4800 is outstanding (is it incl or excl VAT?), about 30% less expensive!

Anonymous

Did you not make any payments towards this suit?

SC

Excellent value then for French tailor of this make!

Kostas

Beautiful suit. May I ask what is the lapels width? Thanks.

Kali

This suit and cut looks really good on you which leads to my question – you place of lot of emphasis on stitching, finish etc. But surely at the end of the day, isn’t the main purpose of a suit not to attract attention to the clothes but to the person wearing it? There are some suits you’ve talked about where the fit might be right, tailoring perfect etc but you don’t look as ‘good’ say as the suit above. Point being are there cuts that are more flattering to you than others?

Matt H

The lapel shape is not really to my taste, but that’s a great looking suit, and significantly lower in price than I was expecting. Those buttonholes are as good as it gets.

I can’t see why you’d want any extra length in the jacket. Seems like it would throw off the top/bottom balance.

I.T.

Fish-mouth lapel is an amazing style, that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist in ready-to-wear, and is seldom seen even in bespoke.

Stephen Dolman

Hi Simon,
Thanks for your advice.
I spoke to Michael, a most charming man.
Thanks again
Kindest regards
Stephen

Stanley

Hi Simon

Compare to the suit / jacket you owned, this jacket look like longer and bigger , especially on the bottom of the jacket (because of the button point?)

i mentioned this, because i have similar issue on my anthology LGB suit, is it kind of classic design?

Ben

An amazing piece. Quite unbelievable that the shoulder pads are so minimal.

One hesitation is regarding the lack of mid-back suppression. A major benefit of the piece is how strong it makes your chest and back look, and I wonder if a more tapered back would detract from this. I suspect only minimally as no changes to the chest canvas would be necessary. In return, you’d get a much more pleasing profile silhouette, which currently looks a bit bulky to me.

Ben R

I’m looking forward to the follow-up piece on the different shoulder shapes that can be made. Could you use some reference images like the one in this post – particularly the photo with the different pads – so we can follow along with what’s going under the cloth?

CHIN-CHEN LEE

Wouldn’t even know it’s a cotton suit if you didn’t tell me.

How do you feel about the buttoning point though, I feel, hum conflicted, might be my bias of prefer lower buttoning point

Jonathan

Hi Simon, beautiful suit. This is definitely one of my favorite commissions of yours. I understand that you went for the ‘classic’ style so you may not have enough information to answer this question, but to the best of your ability, how would you say the ‘very soft’ and ‘unstructured’ styles compare to Neapolitan tailoring? As I’m a healthcare professional and want to be approachable and never too formal, I tend to wear jackets that are Neapolitan in construction or no jacket at all. I tried a ‘unstructured’ jacket at Loro Piana once but that seemed more like knitwear than tailoring. Do you think either the very soft or unstructured styles would be as good a choice as Ciardi or Caliendo for someone who wants tailoring that is very soft and casual? Thank you.

Simon Tuffen

Hi Simon, as mentioned on your Instagram post, I’d appreciate it if you could elaborate a little more on why you have tended to move away from this style with the higher waist, shorter jacket and bellied lapels, so that I can better understand what is achieved by the the change in styles. Thanks.

Anonymous

Worth pointing out perhaps that the skirt of riding jackets had little to do with buttoning points, chest shape and the like, and everything to do with the fact there needed to be enough cloth to allow you to sit comfortable on a horse.

SIMON TUFFEN

Well explained. Many thanks!

Bligh

May I ask what is happening on the back flap? Why is it so caved in? It doesn’t happen on your cotton suit from Ciardi, nor on any other that I could remember.

Anonymous

Great review. Very interested in this cloth. Thanks very much. I have seen a rtw fishmouth lapel style at the armoury if I’m not mistaken…

I’m just missing a few pictures or comments about the trousers. If I’m one of the few who has interest in seeing the trousers on its own and hearing some feedback about them when reviewing a suit then nevermind but it would be interesting especially because these relatively slim trousers make this suit look more modern than a lot of your savile row suits. So there is a difference for sure. It’s makes a huge difference in comfort too. Thanks.

M

The work on this suit looks immaculate and I think the style really suits you, Simon.

Immediately comes across as razor sharp.

Me

If you start lengthening the jacket through the back center seam, through the middle back through to the bottom, it will clean up a lot of that strange messiness you see in the photo.

Will Chadderton

Isn’t the left leg slightly shorter than the right leg ?

Anonymous

Simon, given the casual nature of cotton as a material for suits and the modern slim cut of the trousers how would you feel about wearing the suit without a tie and sockless, perhaps wearing a pair of Sagans?

P

Would be interesting to see some examples of the fading of the cotton over time. Maybe a “great things age” covering some of your cotton suits?

Anon

Do you think the tapered, somewhat narrow, trousers seem disproportionate to the jacket? I like well tailored, tapered trousers but these trousers strike me as out of proportion with the jacket which throws off the balance between jacket and trousers.

Anon

I should have made this clear in my post: the suit is a beautiful piece of work and looks great. My comment is offered only in the context of getting hooked on bespoke and now embarking on the quest to find the great white whale of the perfect bespoke suit! Love your site and your work.

Victor Mui

Congrats on the suit. It is very well balanced and the tailoring looks amazing.

Nick

Hi Simon, overall, what would be your recommendation for a first cotton suit in terms of fabric weight and colour?

Chip

Glad to see that the pocket square is back in favour with you Simon, after a short hiatus. Definitely gives the whole look here a bit of pop.

Stanford Chiou

Are you going to do a style breakdown of this suit? I’m curious to know how the shoulders, chest, and waist compare to suits from Suzuki’s fellow Parisians.

Stanford Chiou

In which case, may I ask you to briefly respond here whether, compared to Cifonelli and Camps de Luca, Suzuki’s shoulder is wider or narrower, his waist more or less suppressed, his chest more or less stiffly canvassed?

Stanford Chiou

Thank you, Simon.

Peter

This material is extremely critical of a Tailors work. In addition the canvas require very skilled handling. I noticed the attention to detail most on the padding of the lapel especially the change of direction for the point – in this case the French version of a Frogmouth.
It is a great piece of work but I just don’t get why you would spend so much on a garment that if it were made in a woolen material would have given a result that would easily exceed the work commonly found on Savile Row.

John Trentini

Hello who on earth stitched the back of that navy blue suit jacket, its all puckered.
How did you miss this such a poor advertisement.

Paul M

Hello Simon. Who made the pocket square you’re wearing? Could it be Simonnot-Godard? Thank you.