Black Lapel Review: The Navy Blue Suit

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Black Lapel Review
Black Lapel | Solid Navy Blue Suit | 449$ |
Indochino Ultimate Utility Shirt
Aubergine white-dotted tie from Berg&Berg
Proper Suit white linen pocket square
Indochino tie bar
I first talked to Warren Liao, co-founder of Black Lapel, I think in 2010. He was in the process of setting up what is now Black Lapel, an online MTM suit maker. Black Lapel officially launched a few weeks ago and Warren was so kind to send me a suit for review.

I don't think I need to spend a lot of time talking about their business model. You know how it works from Indochino, Black Lapel is not fundamentally different. You have got your measurement videos, the "flawless fit promise" as they call it, including a 75$ tailor credit (75$ for suits, 50$ for all other MTM products), free remakes and full refunds. Shipping is free and at the moment, their custom suits and shirts arrive within 3 weeks. 

Black Lapel Review

Black Lapel is another sign that the online MTM market is growing constantly and as with every industry, higher competition will lead to better products for us consumers. There are a couple of cool customization options with Black Lapel that you won't find on Indochino (yet): you can choose to have accent stitching on the boutonniere and your last sleeve buttonhole, matched with your suit lining (they  always use 100% Bemberg lining - something you only get with the Indochino Vincero suits).

Furthermore, their suits are half-canvassed, with horsehair lining in the chest piece and lapels. This makes sure the suit drapes well and you won't run into troubles at the dry cleaners (my advice is to avoid dry cleaning if possible). Hand stitched armholes and crescent pocket reinforcements are other details Warren Liao is rightfully proud of. Fabrics are all from Italy and independently tested and confirmed as 100% wool, buttons are real bull horn. Black Lapel also puts a high focus on quality control, making sure that every of your suits fits the same way. According to Warren, it is actually not digital cutting that makes the difference, it is the individual master tailor who uses these patterns during suit construction.

By the way, there is also an active blog from Black Lapel that you can follow for style advice and inspiration:

Great attention to details - love the buttonholes!
Black Lapel also sell shirts, pants, vests and ties, plus some accessories such as cuff links and tie bars. Pricing is comparable to Indochino.

The suit I chose is their Solid Navy Blue Suit. I wanted to be able to compare to my Indochino navy suits (I have both the Essential Navy from 2010 and the Navy Traveler suit from 2011) and my Black Lapel suit. As for customization options, I stayed pretty much on the safe side with 2 buttons, 2 vents, notch lapels and regular pockets. I chose single pleated trousers with cuffs. I remeasured myself according to their videos to make sure my tweaked Indochino measurements don't mess up anything.

On the photos below I combined the suit with a white Indochino shirt, a aubergine tie from Berg&Berg, a tie bar from Indochino and a pocket square I got from the guys at ProperSuit. The thing with Indochino shirts is that even their wide spread collar is not really that wide spread, so I prefer to use it with a four-in-hand knot - first of all I like the slightly asymmetric look it creates and second, it fits well with the collar. The Berg&Berg silk ties are made of very nice material and they tie just perfect, with a little dimple just were it belongs. Funnily enough the Indochino tie bars are actually too wide for their rather slim ties, but they fit perfect for the normal tie width.

Overall, I have to say the suit is really nice and compares well to Indochino. Especially the fabric, the cut and the construction are very convincing. I messed up the shoulder measurements a bit, they are just a bit too wide, but it's not too obvious. What I don't like that much are the strongly padded shoulders, more natural would be nice (update: natural shoulders are now standard, I had an earlier patch).

  • Fabric: it feels and looks great with a very subtle sheen
  • Cut: modern, slim cut without too much or too little waist suppression 
  • Construction: half-canvas, horsehair lining in the chest piece and lapels
  • Full canvas available for 150$ extra
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg on all suits (more breathable than polyester)
  • Customization options - you can even choose to have accent stitching on the boutonniere  and your last sleeve buttonhole matched with your suit lining. Wish I had chosen that for my suit.
  • Shoulders are very strongly padded
  • Comparably limited choice of fabrics
Special offer for readers of
Get 15% off any item at Black Lapel with coupon code LLBLACKLAPEL (valid until March 31, 2012).