William Crabtree made-to-measure cord jacket: Review

Wednesday, February 23rd 2022
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This is a made-to-measure corduroy jacket from William Crabtree, the shop in Marylebone run by James Priestley. 

We covered William Crabtree previously here, looking at a MTM chore suit. James also offers a very well-priced MTM tailoring programme as well, though, so I wanted to cover that too. 

There are a lot of MTM brands, simply because it’s so easy to set up. All you need is a service like Munro, or an introduction to a factory, and a bunch of bunches. As we all know, the marketing and social media are even easier. 

So I’ve tried to be quite selective with the MTM tailors I’ve covered. So far we’ve done 17, which you can see summarised here. The selection has mostly been on the basis of quality: focused on makers that offer a lot of handwork and are often a rival for bespoke. 

But there have been one or two cheaper ones, and William Crabtree falls into that bracket. I chose to cover it because of James’s experience in menswear, the fact there is a shop to visit, and because James also has experience in tailoring, having done the Newham College bespoke course previously.

The jacket worked out well from a fit perspective. 

Corduroy is not an easy material to work with, and never drapes cleanly. But the fit through the chest and waist is pretty good, with none of the wrinkling you often get with my sloping shoulders. 

The back is fairly clean too, or as clean as you’d want it while still having some movement in a material without either artificial or natural stretch. 

The back of the arm could be a touch cleaner, and the sleeves need another bit taking off, but the fundamentals of front/back balance, placement on the neck and fit through the side seams are all good. And issues I commonly have with jackets - such as gaping vents or collapsing under my left arm - are all absent. 

It’s also important to remember that this is simple made to measure, not bespoke, and shouldn’t be compared with it. Given jackets start at £900, this should really only be compared to other things in the same price bracket.

The jacket looked like this pretty much from the first fitting. 

James works off sized garments, so I tried on a 48 and he widened the shoulders, added space across my shoulder blades, and accounted for the sloping shoulders. 

I made sure to wear a jacket I liked from a style point of view, and that was used as a reference for things like the length and buttoning point. 

At that first fitting everything had been done correctly, it looked good, and only one or two small tweaks were needed, for example to the sleeve length. 

The only issues with the jacket are aspects of the styling. 

The manufacturer James uses is based in Italy, and is a good quality operation: all the basic aspects of good basic make, like a hand-attached collar are there, and they make for several well-known menswear brands. 

But the service is quite restrictive. At the level James is working at, there are only two lapel widths, narrow and wide. I chose the wide one because the narrow was too skinny, but I don’t particularly like the shape of the lapel, with its quite pronounced belly. 

The gorge also can’t be altered, and it’s quite high as a result. It’s something aimed at a mainstream buyer (like the narrow lapel option) and not what I would pick on a bespoke jacket. 

Other things result from that, like the way the jacket rolls from the first to the second button: it’s not really a roll, more a fold, given where the belly of the lapel starts. 

Of course, again it’s unfair to compare this to bespoke, and many MTM programmes restrict your choices here. Much as I love my Saman Amel MTM, I wish I could have had that notch lower too. 

There are also bespoke makers who stick quite rigidly to a contemporary cut, which isn’t to my taste. I wish I had insisted the gorges were lower on some of my Solito jackets, for instance. 

But, given the restrictions on this William Crabtree service, it will still be limited to readers that like this style. I’m sure there will be some. 

The other issue with the jacket is the material, which is my fault. 

I had wanted a tan-cord jacket that could replace my Pirozzi cord shown here. For beautifully made and fitted as that jacket was, it had become far too tight over the years - even with alterations. I had had to give it away.

But there weren’t many cord options. I don’t like stretch in corduroy, as commented several times in the past. It always sits oddly, and you feel like you’re being pulled by a piece of elastic whenever you reach for anything. 

Ideally I wanted a cord with some wool or cashmere in the mix, as with my beloved A&S double breasted. But that Scabal bunch no longer has the same shade of tan, and the only other bunch I could find with a wool or cashmere mix - Loro Piana - also had stretch in it. 

So I fell back on a 100% cotton, from the ever-reliable Brisbane Moss (T1, 315g, 12 wale). The colour looked pretty close from the little swatch. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t really that close. The colour was rather brighter and yellower than I had anticipated, and although it doesn’t look bad here, it wasn’t what I was after.  

It’s a jacket with some issues, then, and I’m not sure whether it’s one I’ll keep in the long term. I’ll have to wear it a bit and see. 

But none of those things - certainly not my error with the cloth, and not the style either for the right person - stop me recommending the William Crabtree programme. It’s good made to measure, great value for £900 an up, and James was efficient and accurate throughout. 

The shop, for those that don’t know it, is on New Quebec Street in London, at number 15. The range of knitwear is also very good (James started his life in cloth, but has been a knitwear agent for many years) and there are often one or two interesting accessories as well. 

The other clothes pictured are a PS blue oxford shirt, an old Etro silk pocket square, and a suede Rubato belt

William Crabtree MTM suits start at £1150 and jackets at £900. Time to delivery, with one or two fittings, is usually 5-6 weeks. 

www.williamcrabtree.co.uk

Photography: Mohan Singh

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clive

Overall I think it looks quite good on you, but I have two questions. Why go for MTM at that price, with all the limitations you list, when there are tailors in London who will make you a fully bespoke jacket for around the same price? Secondly, I don’t see corduroy and flannel being natural bedfellows. Do you?

SamS

Cad&the Dandy has made me several bespoke jackets in a more Italian style, with soft construction (though a lightly padded shoulder) – not as Italian as this, perhaps, but on the other hand you get the full bespoke selection. They are also pretty close in price to what you’re quoting here, if you use their overseas service.

RT

A very timely review for me! I’ve been considering ordering a MTM corduroy suit and have been wondering about the offering from William Crabtree. Unfortunately, the style isn’t for me – those bellied lapels just wouldn’t be something I could live with; I much prefer the straighter lapels of many of the Italians and The Anthology.
I have to say, though, that my experience of buying knitwear from William Crabtree has been excellent and, along with Trunk, they’ve quickly become my go-to source of knitwear. I now have six pullovers from them. The quality of both products and service has been excellent, and James is great to deal with. I’m keen to look at their chore jackets and the waxed Lowgill jacket next. Have you tried it by any chance, Simon?

P.A.

Eventhough I don’t doubt that there is good value in this jacket, my guess is that you won’t be wearing it much, especially considering all the superb bespoke jackets in your posession.
Fit, balance, attached collar, all this is great, but style might be the most important thing, and those lapels and patch pockets do not look good.
Looking back at your Pirozzi suit, it was a thing of beauty.

Aaron

I must say, as someone who wants to get into tailoring more than cheap, ill-fitting suits for work seeing reviews for cheaper MTM options is great. Especially knowing they take into account shoulder width like they did – I know a lot of people rave about SuitSupply as a beginner option but I simply do not have the build!

Martins

My usual gripe. When blue Oxford has purple shade, it’s hard to judge colour of jacket… but if it’s corn, i found it much more wearable than I imagined when I got trousers!
also I think t1 is just the right weight for narrow wale cord! I have 3 narrow wale cord trousers, lighter, t1 and heavier. And t1 just “feels”right!
What would you think about t1 tan 601 jacket/suit? I thought it would be too… old school? But than I saw anthology post in very similar colour and now I’m not so sure!

Martins

Thank you! If I may one more question… t1 vs 3124.. (10 vs 12 wale)… I love 10 wale trousers for winter. So much I think I’ll order 2 dark olive for next winter! But wouldn’t jacket look better(more modern) in 12 wale corduroy?

I’m basically torn between 3 colours/ 2 wale options, and I really can’t decide which trousers to turn into a suit. T1 tan 601, 3124 dark olive or t1/3124 dark brown (I think jacket would be most wearable for me but I don’t wear black shoes so I’m really unsure about trousers).

Smart option would be dark brown jacket and tan/dark olive trousers, but I blame you for “wanting” a corduroy suit! 🙂

Martins

But actually Brisbane moss really has surprised me! T1, papery in the beginning, so nice and soft once broken in, 3124 same thing! Trousers seem to almost stand up on their own in the beginning, turns into as comfortable as sweatpants once broken in!

But thank you for your answer!

Kevin

I googled Wes Anderson since I had no idea who he was. Not my cup of tea. Bold shirts and wallabees. I´m not sure what a geography teacher would wear.

Nico

The seldom references to Tattersall always seem to reveal a profound dislike; I always felt it to be an understated and comfortably casual check, nice as distinctly British. Maybe because I am not British?

Martin

Simon, interesting that you mention wearing this jacket with chinos. Which colors have you tried? Could navy look good?

Martin

Thank you Simon. I used to read Ivy Style (when it was run by Christian Chensvold) and got the impression that tweed jackets and ww2-chinos worn together are very much the ivy look – much more so than jackets and jeans. Am I wrong?

Liam

I actually really like the colour and i think it provides some variation to the other jackets you own. I would stick with it. Indeed it was the first thing that jumped out at me when i saw the first picture. The lapels are rather fulsome and perhaps not to my taste. The fit of the jacket looks good all round though. How would you compare it to the Anglo Italian MTM?

SamS

The colour does give some mustard vibes.

That said, I like that you’re trying to cover some more affordable options for tailoring, even though the cut on these jackets may be a bit too contemporary for many of us. I would have been a lot better off starting out with afordable MtM like this, rather than buying RTW and persuading myself it was fitting properly… These kind of MtM services does open up well-fitting tailoring to a lot of people who may lack the money, knowledge or interest to go full bespoke.

Dan

The color does not look bad at all. I think this color would look great with jeans, too. In fact, it looks better than that Orazio pink sportscoat you have.

P.A.

Speaking of that Orazio sportcoat, do you actually wear this jacket ? I have trouble picturing you wearing it in the the UK, even more so that it is cut quite close.

Pyc

It’s a brilliant colour, perfectly suited to needlecord (Wes Anderson would be envious).
However the downstairs-upstairs inversion (light on top, dark on the bottom) perhaps overly accentuates the jacket.

Peter Hall

I think that combination, with lighter trousers, would be great for a spring day or as a day jacket for warmer climes. Could it work with linen trousers and a chunky loafer?

SVT

Simon,
How about faded Levis jeans, suede chukkas and a white ocbd shirt or burgundy merino turtleneck for this set?

Ben

Despite the wide lapels, chest, shoulders and upper back look constricted. High gorge has something to do with it, but it seems a bigger starting size would have worked better.

Also not a fan of gray flannel with this. Would definitely stay tonal with maybe a brown moleskin. Yellow is just hard to pull off.

Chuyu

I do love your combo though. In contrast to the bright jacket colour, the grey flannel trousers look quite understated here. Btw, Simon, would you perhaps consider writing a separate post about your favourite odd trousers (just as you did on your favourite sport jackets last year)? I always struggle a bit with choosing the right shade and material for odd trousers, and your article on ‘trouser colours to wear with odd jackets’ in the ‘wardrobe building’ series might need to be updated, I guess. Please keep up your great articles! Love them!

Robin

Firstly, really good to see you review more MTM. Despite what I’m about to write this is a useful article particularly given your regrets/ mistakes and to hear your thoughts on things.
Secondly, I think this is a poor example to highlight MTM …..the colour and the cloth , being cotton cord , mean the creasing would make even a bespoke look off-par.
There doesn’t appear to be a silhouette to this jacket. Just two rather wide lapels that seem even wider with the gorge being so high .
I think the patch pockets don’t help either …. They make the jkt appear bulkier.
Although the article really helps highlight MTM it would now help to actually see this mysterious ‘block’ often mentioned.
On the price point , not sure of exact prices, but Graham Brown by St Paul’s might do bespoke at Christmas Sale at similar price.

P.S. Thank you for introducing us to another good brand .
Already been over to the William Crabtree website .
Can see myself as a future customer on the crew necks .

S

How would you judge Graham Browne today? Still good value? I know their output has been a bit “up and down” quality wise in recent years.
S

Markus

Dear Simon,
good to see an MTM article. This is interesting for readers, who – like me – do not want to spend the time and money on a really good bespoke suit but something better fitting than RTW.
May I suggest that an article where you give input on different MTM programs of larger manufacturers (think Canali, Corneliani, Zegna or even Hugo Boss), not only available in London but also on the continent, might be of the utmost interest for (likely) many readers.
Br Markus

Markus

Thank you very much for the interesting insight.
Are there any rather widely available (Italian) suit brands that you would consider great value? A hint in such direction would indeed be very helpful and highly appreciated.

joshgtv

I used to wear a lot of RTW Canali – I still think that it’s the best value brand at that price point, particularly if you buy during their clearance sales. Interesting fabrics and good construction i.e. all fully-canvassed jackets unlike anything from Hugo Boss.

Gsk

I know this gets mentioned a million times before and you have your reasons for not doing it yet, maybe do some bespoke suits with with smaller tailors in the london suburbs (wg child and sons of wandsworth) etc or in the regions. Many of these come in between £1000-2000

Stephen S

Hi GSK, I am aware of WG Childs and Sons Wandsworth. They have been around as far back as I can remember in the area (over 30 years). The outside always looks immaculate. Have you purchased from them and if so how was it.
Hi Simon
Whilst I do see your point Simon, in this this case I would say Wandsworth in SW London isn’t really regional. Also not very different from articles on regional vintage shops.
Perhaps your readership may consider another pass at this topic.

Stephen S

Hi Simon,
I didn’t realise the tight spec on location (Marylebone rather than Shoreditch – did make me smile). It was just a thought.
Its interesting though as there are some interesting tailors in various locations and similarly some shops with an interesting curated selection – eg The Curated Man (and Woman) in Richmond Surrey – modern casual – (has a website) and Palmer near Northcote Road Wandsworth more traditional with some Ivy influence. Neither are – for example; edgy Japanese, but do source some interesting items not seen necessarily seen in any/ many other places. Btw I have no vested interest other than promoting local shops to locals or people visiting the area.
Perhaps something for the future where readers suggest interesting local retailers
All the best.

Stephen

Great idea and perhaps other readers could do the same.
Best

Shoddy

I have a similarly coloured suit and have a love/hate relationship with the colour . I quite like the shade and texture in itself (its a loro piana and very velvety) but i really wanted the jacket as seprates and thought “what the hell” and got the trousers too: but aside from the ever dependable grey flannels, and mossy sort of green cord (similar loro piana) I’m a bit stumped for odd trouser matches -maybe dark brown? As for the suit trousers I haven;t worked out what I can pair them with them for apart from as a
suit.
Although the material is light its quite rich (cf your point about navy odd trousers). Also given its fine texture I feel that the whole thing is a little bit imbetween in formality. It seems very smart but obviously not work-appropiate, and maybe too light for evening wear. I might need to be an art dealer to get much wear out of it.

Any ideas?

Shoddy

Yes very helpful, thanks. I should add that I rather like the suit with a dark red (hint of maroon) polo neck.But I’m not sure I would do it will just the trousers. I’ll try the grey as you suggest. Conversely I have tried the grey with the suit and found it a bit too boring. I can see there may be a principle lurking here.

Anonymous

Simon, can you say more about gorge height (or is there a blog post somewhere)? Why is a lower gorge more bespoke and a higher more mainstream? I’ve always thought lower gorges look fashion-y, but then I️ grew up in the 80’s, the era of wide shoulders and very low gorges. Thanks.

DKP

Simon – understand completely not wanting to compare MTM to Bespoke but am I mistaken in thinking that Anthology offer bespoke jackets for not much more than the price of this MTM and if so, assuming access to Anthology is possible (either because HK based or because trunk shows resume) wouldn’t it be the better option?

John

Hi Simon,
Thanks for this review. A reminder and a teaching moment yet again, to me at least. As I suspect that you don’t always abide by your OWN principles or lessons.
A house’s style is what one should primarily pay attention to before deciding to have one’s jacket or whatever made, unless one were solely focused on construction, which doesn’t sound being an advisable approach when it comes to tailoring.
So in this case, the gorge, the belly, the button’s position you have mentionned belong all to the House’s style. Why then expect or require the maker to go to such great lengths – yes, by tweakig the jacket to the point at which it would be one different from the style of their – just to be apparently forthcoming?
Now as to the fabric you “fell back on”, again your own fault, I’m afraid. Indeed, there was – and still is – a unique option for you to replace the Pirozzi cord jacket: wait until Scabal reinroduce their “501058, 92% Cotton 8% Cashmere, 360 Gr, 12 cords/inch from Cashmere Corduroy Bunch (N° C2231)”.
Any PS reader could make these remarks by simply (re)reading your previous posts devoted to MTO.
John

John

I meant that matching your expectations would have required tweaking few style points. But then, the jacket would have been different from William Crabtree’s Jackets style.
I agree, Simon. The olive green cord would be great!
By the way, I don’t find William Crabtree’s pincord colors really versatile for trouisers. And using side adjusters for trousers of this weight is not a good idea eiher.
However, lovely knit ties! Yet, adding an indication of their width would be very helpful. .
John

Stephan

Nice jacket, nicely written review, very useful to read of more affordable alternatives that look very nice indeed.
What was interesting to me on that style point: while I do see in that buttoned-up front-facing photo the pronounced belly and therefore the very specific shape of the lapel in conjunction with the high gorge, it does not show in other photos at all. Perhaps just too pronounced from that up front angle and when buttoned-up but otherwise softer?
A question on fit: you basically say, or I understand it that way, that this is in another league from bespoke in terms of fit and ought to be judged thus. Can you elaborate this more precisely – what areas of fit differ and why is it so pronounced? In my view, if I can get a fit this good from MTM, I’m thinking should I make it go-to and use bespoke only for a few special garments. Thanks!

George

I dont like the jacket so much mostly for the reasons already mentioned but i like a lot the idea of more budget friendly jackets and coats, as a man who doesnt wear more than 20 times a year a jacket so cant justify a 3000€ one.

Noel

Given the limitations of cord (or cotton in general), is bespoke worth it? Or does the lack of natural stretch and drape of wool mean that bespoke makes even more of a difference ?

Flynn

I can empathise with your disappointment regarding the fabric. I recently commissioned a dark olive linen casual suit – based on the swatches I thought I had picked out the correct colour… only to find with the finished piece that it was more akin to a much stronger, dark forest green.
Still fine to wear as separates – which is what I’m doing. As a complete suit, however, as my wife rather tactfully pointed out – I rather look like a leprechaun desperately in search of a St Patrick’s Day…
For me that is still usually the biggest leap of faith with commissioning a new piece – trying to envision the final piece from the swatch. Hard with solids – nearly impossible with checks!

Stephen

It’s similar to the problem with a paint card when trying to buy decorative paint! Never looks the same on the wall! Fortunately there are tester pots – although perhaps something similar for swatches would be larger than portfolio size samples that you could at least drape across the shoulder. Possibly with your experience Simon, you have seen something like this?
Best .

hugh memess

Hi Simon what can the #menswear community do to help the situation in Ukraine?

Aaron

I don’t know about the current conflict, but, should they survive, there’s a few Etsy shops based in Ukraine – I know some sell linen clothing – that I’m sure would benefit from orders in order for money to rebuild their lives.

Erik P

One might donate money to organisations taking care of humanitarian needs. The donations will, among other things, fund clothing for those in need.
Red Cross is an example.

Craig

I understand completely the difficulty in judging color just from a swatch. It’s one of the reasons why I appreciate you specifiying which fabric you use when you write an article.

SteveB

Interesting Simon that such mistakes happen with even you & your experience ( but we’ve all done it Iguess), but I agree the colour is a wee bit bright compared to the more muted tanS. Small swatches are invariably deceptive especially in different light conditions. Why did you not consider moving away from the tan as you’ve a number in that tone. I’d be absolutely gutted if the colour wasn’t what I wanted; at least with RTW you get to see the colour & feel of the cloth on the finished jacket in daylight or indoors. That said It depends on build & how some RTW fit, but then it has the option of alterations if desired.
One for your WhatsApp group but not your A&S tan suit I suspect;-)

SteveB

Best take your Pizzori jacket next time to be certain as the colour & nature of the cloth is crucial. A swatch is a guide but once made into a jacket or suit you are stuck if it’s not quite what you expect & invariably you are trying to convince yourself that you might like it. Those tans work very well in both suits in the past.
Not sure this jacket works well with grey trousers but I guess you were expecting a more muted tone of tan rather than towards yellow. Maybe something lighter. Maybe best worn on cold sunny days.

bob

I was surprised when I saw the photo, it didn’t look like your sort of colour, and so somewhat pleased to read you considered it a mistake rather than a new direction.

My shape points to bespoke but my budget is more lemonade than champagne. I’ve commissioned 5 jackets/suits over time and two are great (fabrics recommended by others), one was ok and the other two the fabrics weren’t what I expected. It may be a loaded question to ask on an article where you admit your own fabric error but how do you improve your hit rate?