“I went to a Nepalese tailor and I just thought what a fantastic opportunity to get something made, choose the fabric, go through with my tailor and see what comes out. I didn't have that much luck [with suits] up until that point where I met our current tailors in Nepal.”
-Warren Bennett, co-founder A Suit That Fits
Outsourcing, by definition, has got a bad rap over the years. Since becoming a legitimate source of cheap labour during the 1960s and 1970s, companies have grappled with how they can exploit their competitive advantage to increase their markets and profits. However, cheaper labour needn't represent exploitation, as several companies are beginning to demonstrate.
One company that fits this mould is A Suit That Fits; a tailoring business that is able to legitimately compete with high street brands like M&S and Top Man, and other "off the peg" sellers, by utilising experienced tailors in Nepal and offering unique, completely fitted suits.
"All of our masters have 30 years of experience. That's a huge amount of experience, [and as] we've got six master cutters it's nearly 200 years of experience. You can't find that in many places. It's absolutely amazing," says Warren Bennett, one of the two founders of A Suit That Fits.
Nepalese tailors with 200 years experience
The key for A Suit That Fits, above all else, is quality; something that just wouldn't be possible for the same price if the suits were tailored on British shores. But that needn't mean exploitation. "We pay 50 percent more than the local rate for our tailors, which means that we actually find it really easy to attract and retain the best tailors.
"We believe in treating everybody really fairly and granted it's less than we would have done if it was in England, that's just part of how we deliver that value back to our customers and actually delivering us 50 percent over the local rate in local tailoring means that we've got tremendous loyalty from our tailors."
A Suit That Fits is unlike many businesses that outsource, insomuch as the building blocks of the business began and continue to rest solely on the talent and ability of those receiving orders in Nepal, unlike other businesses that outsource to gain a competitive advantage as the business gets more established.
You could argue that Warren Bennett identified a gap in the market and took a punt on getting finely tailored suits cut and produced in Nepal as a way to compete with high street prices. However, as he tells me at the new full-time measuring studio in Bristol, the method fell into his lap after he saw the talent first-hand, during a gap-year in Nepal.
"I went on a mission whenever I was abroad, because I could not afford [a suit] in the UK. I went to a Nepalese tailor and I just thought what a fantastic opportunity to get something made, choose the fabric, go through with my tailor and see what comes out. I didn't have that much luck [with suits] up until that point where I met our current tailors in Nepal."
The process begins online, where customers can choose from 40 billion options, from cut to fabric, and then, either using the online measuring system or getting professionally measured in one of A Suit That Fits' nationwide studios, the order whizzes to Nepal where the master cutter can start a new pattern and begin to stitch, press and finish; a process that takes three to eight weeks from start to finish.
If the time-frame causes some potential customers to choose suits off the peg as a speedier alternative, it doesn't show. A Suit That Fits has grown 20 percent year-on-year and, in the first four years of trading, has successfully delivered 30,000 suits.
That's a lot of suits. And a lot of orders. And would be totally impossible without the experience and expertise of tailors 4,560 miles away.
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