Interview: Rob Blythe & Suit Shop

Suit Shop is a new business with a new vision in the Australian menswear market. We had the opportunity to chat with Rob Blythe who, along with Patrick Johnson, has pieced together  a business model based on ultimate service, unmatched quality and an incredible price point. Made-to-measure suiting is no longer a service for the ultra-affluent, but now an affordable option for all.

TVG: What is Suit Shop? 

Rob Bythe (Suit Shop): Suit Shop is a travelling tailor service. We come to you for an in-person fitting. The whole process is designed to be as simple and fuss free as possible. Your pattern and details are then kept on file for an efficient re-order process in-person or online.

Why did the business start? 

Until now, there really haven’t been any great suiting options for Australian men who want to dress better at the sub-$1000 price point. Guys want the assurance of being fitted by experts, an efficient and simplified re-order process and the convenience of a travelling tailor all while still obtaining great value for money.

How important has Patrick Johnson been in the development of suit shop? 

Patrick’s involvement has been vital from a training and pattern development perspective and also in getting Suit Shop’s own workshop up and running. All of our staff undergo extensive training through P.Johnson Tailors before they join Suit Shop. We see all of these new online suiting businesses where you take your own measurements, but we feel that the only way to get the perfect fit is to be fitted by someone who truly knows what they are doing, someone who not only has the proper training but also the proper temperament.

Price point is a huge consideration for men when buying a suit – how has Suit Shop positioned itself in the market? 

Our suits start from $750 with most guys spending less than $1000.

Consumers often relate price with quality, how are you delivering on both fronts?

We believe at this price point, the quality side of the value equation has been lacking in Australia for quite some time. We aim to offer the best value in the market. Our cloths on offer are Italian and English cloths from mills such as Zegna, Dugdale Bros and Loro Piana, our team are there to fit you correctly and offer you the best advice for your wardrobe and lifestyle.

What is the difference between a made-to-measure and a bespoke suit? 

The level of training and experience of the person fitting you is key in understanding the difference. Bespoke suits involve a number of fittings and can take well over 6 months to create as everything is made by hand and in house. Made-to-measure (MTM) is a less involved and more efficient process in comparison. At Suit Shop we see you for a detailed first fitting and then when the suit comes in a second fitting is done to check the pattern and fit. Any changes are recorded and your pattern is updated for an efficient re-ordering process. There are quite a few ‘tailors’ in the Australian market who claim to be making bespoke suits but in reality most are sales people who are making a very basic made to measure suit but selling them at a bespoke price point.

Will there be a ready-to-wear collection from Suit Shop? or is everything made to measure? 

At this stage our suits and shirts are all made-to-measure however watch this space!

Is there still a need for bricks and mortar retail space?

Interesting question – I was Macquarie’s retail analyst for the past 6 years and the industry is definitely evolving but perhaps not at the pace that everyone expects (especially in Australia). I think there is way too much of the same retail space here in Australia and there is a good argument for a mix of both online and B&M space. Suit Shop has some pretty exciting plans for integrating brick and mortar space in the near future and evolve the perception of brick and mortar retailing.

How would you compare the menswear market in Australia to the rest of the world? 

Menswear in Australia is definitely improving but still has a long way to come. A big part of the problem is simply a lack of choice in Australia as we are so isolated from the rest of the world. Patrick Johnson has paved the way for the future of Australian menswear and we are hoping to be an extension of this and help Australian men dress better.