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How Many Tailors Does One Need?

Updated: Feb 20

People sometimes ask me who my tailor is. My answer, much like how I answer clients, is usually "it depends."

It would obviously be ideal to have all pieces of tailoring done by a Savile Row tailor. But that wouldn't be cost and time effective. I currently have three tailors. I use them for different tasks and they are all in different price brackets.

This post can be used as a guide for those looking to dive into tailoring with a budget in mind. The tailors below are all based in Jakarta (and Depok). Prices obviously vary in places. You can have more than one tailor in each category, but one in each category is enough to cover all of your tailoring needs.

1. The Sartorial Tailor

A fitting session with my Sartorial Tailor, Mack Joansen.

This is a tailor that is not only good at tailoring but is also very knowledgeable.

They can make well-fitting canvassed suits using a large variety of high quality fabrics (usually British and Italian). They will usually have basted fitting sessions between the start and finish.

You can go to them for tailoring and style advice. Indeed, the first meeting with them is usually a simple consultation. They will be able to advise you to go with a Neapolitan three-roll-two jacket with spalla camicia shoulders for your casual Friday sports jacket or a British double breasted suit with structured shoulders for your business suit.

The downside is obviously cost. Their product, skill and knowledge do not come cheap so expect to spend close to and above USD1000 for a suit (depending on the fabric, canvassing, style, etc). This price obviously goes further up once you go to European tailors. Another downside is time. They usually need a few months to make a suit.

Sartorial Tailors usually have their own house style—the default cut and details they use unless instructed otherwise. This is purely a question of style, not quality. This is the main reason people have more than one tailor in this category.

Blazer by my Sartorial Tailor, A&E Tailors.

My Sartorial Tailor used to be Mack Joansen (pictured above) until he became a tattoo artist. Currently, it’s A&E Tailors (see my review here). Even though I’m in London and he’s in Jakarta I still often message him to get advice on tailoring and fabrics. And I will use his services more when I'm in Jakarta.

Another Indonesian tailor I would put in this category is Brillington Brothers (which we will review in the future as my friend—also an author of this blog—is currently commissioning a suit with them). While I’m in London I might also try some British made-to-measure or bespoke tailors; they will definitely fall in this category.

2. The Local Tailor

These tailors can make suits, but usually not very good ones (usually fused and with polyester fabrics). This doesn’t mean that you should disregard their services altogether. Their services are still good for more two-dimensional tailoring such as batik shirts, dress shirts and trousers.  

Usually they go straight into making the final garment after taking your measurements without basted fittings. Having said this, I would usually give a sample garment for them to copy. I know it isn't as romantic as being measured but in my experience it’s the safest bet for this type of tailor.

I would not commission a jacket, which is more three-dimensional. I have in the past, and out of the four suits and one blazer I commissioned, only one suit remains. I thought I could get away with cheaper tailors to get decent beater suits. I was wrong. The cut was never quite right and I ended up donating them. Remember that the suit that you never wear, irrespective of how cheap it is, is the most expensive one.

Batik by my Local Tailor, Nidia. Batik can be tricky as the pattern must be matched along the seams. My Local Tailor matched the pattern beautifully.

The upside is obviously cost. They will cost significantly less than the Sartorial Tailor but can still produce well-fitting two-dimensional garments. My tailor charges around Rp. 400,000 (around USD28) for his tailoring fee, not including fabric. For a cotton dress shirt he charges around Rp. 750,000 (around USD53). Not the cheapest among this type of tailor in Indonesia, but very good for what you get. Compared to anything in London, this is unbelievably cheap.

Another upside is time. A shirt or a pair of trousers would take around one to two weeks to make. In the most extreme case, he has even made me a tuxedo in five days. This sort of return time is unheard of among Sartorial Tailors.

My shirts from my Local Tailor are my best fitting shirts. And because I’m particular about my trousers (as pictured above: high-waisted, with side tabs, 6cm cuffs, etc) all of my odd trousers are tailored by him.

I currently only have one Local Tailor: Nidia based in Cinere Mall, Depok.

3. The Neighborhood Alterer

This is the tailor I mainly go to for alterations when I buy ready-to-wear garments. You will be surprised how much better ready-to-wear garments fit once altered. This includes shortening suit sleeves and tapering trousers.

Shirt sleeve shortened by my Neighbourhood Alterer, Pak Gondrong, for the right amount of cuff under a jacket.

I also use his services for small tasks like attaching braces buttons or moving jacket buttons (my A&E Tailors blazer buttons were moved by him, see review). And because he lives nearby, it usually only takes him 15 minutes to get to my house. This is especially useful in cases of tailoring emergency.

His services are very cheap, almost negligible. I even forgot how much he charges for alterations. And when it's urgent, he can do his work in one day.

My current Neighborhood Alterer is Pak Gondrong (literally "Mr. Long Hair"—I don’t even know his real name) based in his house (I think) in Cinere, Depok.

Written by: Nikki Krisadtyo


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