Not everyone lives near an amazing tailor. That's where Indochino comes in. The online made-to-measure suit company tells you how to measure yourself and then sends you your custom suit plus a $75 alteration credit, just in case it doesn't fit perfectly.
Starting Monday, October 22, the company is setting up a seven-day "Traveling Tailor" pop-up shop in New York City's Grand Central station. Yes, getting measured by your roommate could work out fine, but you're much better off in the hands of one of Indochino's fit specialists. You can either book your half-hour appointment online or just walk in.
The pop-up shop will also solve one of the biggest problems when it comes to online shopping—not being able to touch the fabric. Buying a T-shirt on the Internet is one thing. Feeling the difference between merino wool and Mongolian cashmere is another. At Grand Central station's Vanderbilt Hall, you'll be able to touch before you buy, which is important because the fabric also affects the look of the suit, how it fits, and how it conforms to your body over time. If you're not near New York, you can always order the Tailor's Kit, which includes 16 fabric swatches and two measuring tapes for $29.99, the cost of which you can put toward your suit purchase.
Another bonus of stopping in to Grand Central next week? Everyone who buys a suit also gets a complimentary dress shirt. While this is obviously offered for promotional reasons, it's a good sign of how made-to-order businesses are approaching a thorny problem: How do you make custom goods for people without being able to actually experience the final product in advance?
The answer for many companies seems to be combination of pop-ups and a liberal shipping policy. As we speak, Warby Parker's "Class Trip" bus is making its way across the country, letting people try on glasses and get their eyes checked out by an optician. Both Indochino and Warby Parker realize that once you know your suit size or prescription, respectively, you'll be more likely to order merchandise on a whim. They make money, and you don't have to leave the comfort of your home—yes, the golden age of online shopping has arrived.
Traveling Tailor New York will be located in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. between Monday, October 22, and Monday, October 29.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.