Here at SPY, we’re big fans of Rowing Blazers. The brand best known for breathing new life into prep recently expanded into made-to-order suiting. While blazers and pants were always a part of their offering, this change marked a new evolution (and a new product line!) for the brand previously unseen. To better understand the whole process, we spoke with Jud Barr of JTB Custom (who RB worked with to stand up the MTO process) and got an MTO suit for ourselves.
Rowing Blazers Made-to-Order Suit Review: What We Liked
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Rowing Blazers’ made-to-order offerings is how different they are from traditional suits. While there are more standard offerings, RB features bold options such as patchwork, gun check wool and herringbone. Barr said he worked with Rowing Blazers founder Jack Carlson to ensure the options he wanted could be done while JTB Custom ensured they had the “manufacturing and supply chain management and technology to make that happen.”
I went with a purple corduroy suit to live out my best Wes Anderson lifestyle. The suit jacket and suit pants are selected separately, so you could choose one or the other if you wanted. Both the jacket and the pants come in a wide range of sizes (36 – 50 in chest size for the jacket, with options for short, regular, or long, while the pants come in waist and inseam sizes with trim or wide fit). The flexibility of this allows you to select an option that works best for you.
The pieces aren’t just a variety of different sizes sitting around in a warehouse. “It’s actually built to order,” Barr told SPY. “The orders get to the factory in real-time. So as soon as you hit check out, it lands in the production queue, and then those orders are pulled into production. They cut the pieces, and then it goes into the assembly line.”
I was concerned that Rowing Blazers scaling up in this way would come at the cost of its quality. It turns out, that was for naught. The quality of those pieces is deeply, deeply impressive. The corduroy material flesh plush (almost velvet-like) and comfortable in my hand and on my body, all of which is a step up from the very same corduroy pants I’d ordered from Rowing Blazers a year prior.
The fit is pretty timeless overall and can be suited (pun intended) to a variety of different stylings. The other detail that really pops is the gold buttons, which give the suit more of a regal feeling. As you can see, the suit looks really great, and I’m eager to wear it when temperatures cool down in the winter once again.
Rowing Blazers Made-to-Order Suit Review: What We Didn’t Like
While I can’t quibble with the quality of the suit itself, there are some hiccups in the process. When I first spoke with Barr, he mentioned the ordering process would take about “4 to 6 weeks” and praised the speed of the order relative to something like a fully custom suit. As it turns out, that is decidedly not the case. It took me about two months to receive my entire order. Rowing Blazers site reflects the 7-8 week ordering period, but that wasn’t the timeline as I initially understood it.
Also frustrating is the lack of dedicated sizing charts. While I am familiar with how Rowing Blazers pants and jackets fit, there are no specific measurements for, say, a 34 pant. There are general size notes on the site, but nothing near as detailed as they should be — especially when there are no returns on MTO clothing. That means you’ll (likely) need to size up and then take the suit to get altered after the fact. Considering the total cost of the suit neighbors in the $1,150 range (before shipping), that’s quite an initial investment to make before you add tailoring fees on top.
I know Rowing Blazers is still building out this program, but adding a dedicated and extremely detailed size chart (with measurements about their specific cuts) or even some sort of at-home testing kit would be a considerable quality of life improvement for the end customer.
Verdict: Rowing Blazer’s Made-to-Order Suit Is a Good First Draft
Even with a fantastic quality product, it’s a little difficult for me to fully recommend the Rowing Blazers made-to-order process in its current state. Unless you’re deeply familiar with the brand or are willing to pay extra tailoring fees, there’s a chance you could order the wrong size and then be stuck with something that doesn’t work. That said, a few minor tweaks can go a long way to improving the overall experience. There’s a lot to like here, and with a few tweaks, there will even be a lot to love.