This week in our menswear dialogue series we speak with Warren Liao of Black Lapel Custom Clothiers. We've had the privilege of working with Warren directly and we thought we'd shed some light on his thoughts the online custom retail space and the the future of classic bespoke tailoring.
Image Granted -
What is your title/occupation/trade?
Warren Liao -
Co-founder of Black Lapel, an online custom clothing company for men.
IG -We've noticed the enormous amounts of online, virtual, and mechanical tailors offering custom, made-to-measure, made-to-order products ranging from underwear to full suits. Why did Black Lapel choose to join the crowd? Do you see an advantage to offering your services online versus in person?
WL - We are definitely in an era where personalization and individualization of products are becoming increasingly available and affordable. It’s an exciting time to be a consumer.
My co-founders and I were young professionals that had the same issue most men have – finding high quality clothing that fit well. We figured that if we could solve this problem, we’d be helping more than just ourselves. Other options started popping up but none had the right mix of quality and pricing, so we started Black Lapel as the solution.
The advantage of being an online custom clothier is our ability to leverage low overhead costs to deliver a true luxury product at a fraction the cost of our luxury brand counterparts. We’ve eliminated many operational costs these off-the-rack brands cannot avoid like physical stores, distributors, seasonal inventory, etc. We pass those savings onto our customers. The end result is luxury quality, individually made custom clothing that is accessible to just about anyone in the world. It also means more well-dressed men out in the world…something both sexes can appreciate.
Is there a difference in the steps needed to outfit a man virtually versus in person? A tailor in person can account for the intricacies of the human form. This seems to be more difficult in a virtual environment. How do you ensure your product is the best fitting garment you can provide without actually seeing most of your customers?
The better question is where can a customer get the best experience and best return on investment for their custom clothing purchase? It’s true that we often can’t see our customers and we rely on them to be able to follow our instructional videos on taking measurements (although we’ve made this a very simple, straight-forward process).However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t offer an alternative. That’s why we have an expertly trained customer service team to help answer any questions that strike our customers fancy. And it’s why we’ve created features like A Second Opinion to help customers start a dialogue with us. If you’re oddly shaped or aren’t certain what posture to mark down, send us some pictures of yourself from the different angles. And for those that need a little bit more help to get to that “he was born in this suit” fit, we offer our Flawless Fit Promise.
At the end of the day, we’re going to make sure our suits look nothing short of perfect on our customers because they will be the walking billboards for our products.
IG -Do you think the online space will ever become too crowded? If so, do you see men reverting to the in- person tailoring or will there be some other form of custom service?
WL -I don’t think in-person tailoring at the highest level will ever go away. Bespoke suits, such as those offered on Savile Row in London, is a sartorial art we can all appreciate. However, it’s an art that few have access to and can afford. For consumers, it’s a good thing that there are more and more companies operating in the online space. Competition will force us all to continue improving our products and services. A company will need to innovate and adapt to what consumers want and need or risk failure.
At Black Lapel, we love this challenge and embrace it daily. We want to bring passion and attention to detail to everything we do. We want to up the stakes in online custom clothing and bring true quality to the forefront of the conversation. We are on a mission to help men dress, live and be better every day and we’re here to stay.