A young atelier from Wrocław offered to make a bespoke suit for me to review. But that’s not what really caught my attention.
Andell’s Atelier kindly offered to make this suit for me free of charge. They had no influence over the final review and did not receive it for authorization prior to publication.
So what really made me curious to try Andell’s Atelier is how they phrased the proposition. The initial e-mail stated that they’re interested in an impartial view of their work that’ll point out flaws they can then fix. They wanted someone to not just praise them on the internet in return for a free suit, but rather take a serious critical look and point out things that can be improved. I like this approach – it’s honest and fair, and I’ll do my best to be just that in this review.
The order took a little over a year to complete. It’s not a typical turnover time for orders at Andell’s – I was not in a hurry and was perfectly OK to have my suit wait so that the atelier could focus on orders with tighter deadlines. It’s quite important however, because Andell’s is a young undertaking, and therefore they still learn new things and modify their product rapidly. Some things you’ll see in this suit are now made differently.
Andell’s also isn’t a typical menswear tailor; they have more of an ambition to be a high-end artisanal fashion brand for men and women alike. They pursue a few projects simultaneously, for example a ladies’ RTW line, or menswear accessories like pocket squares with their original designs.
My first visit at the atelier was in April 2017, and then I had a nice chat with Joanna, the designer. We decided on the details of the suit – an unlined, three-roll-two, soft shouldered jacket with besom pockets, pleated high-waisted trousers with cuffs, and a simple five-button waistcoat. The fabric I chose comes from Scabal Tristar bunch in light grey. The weight of 300g theoretically makes it rather heavy for a spring-summer fabric, but you don’t really feel that weight. It’s open-weave, airy and breathable 100% wool fabric, which is surprisingly stretchy – a bit of a challenge when tailoring it, but makes the finished garment very comfortable.
The jacket was looking more finished than many tailors present theirs during the first fitting. The lapel facing was basted on, and during the fitting sleeves were attached with pins. We decided on the placement of the breast pocket and buttons. The default Andell’s lapel shape has them with a little bit of a belly, which I preferred to get rid of. The basted flaps of the hip pockets would also have to go.
We would also play a little with the trousers and their widths in certain areas – turns out making a pair of trousers that fulfils my specific expectations is not easy.
The waistcoat is here, and so we decided on its length and how far up it goes. I wanted the fronts of the jacket a bit more curved, and the jacket opening up at the bottom a bit more. I wasn’t also fully happy with the trousers yet – overall I thought they were a little narrow, which didn’t allow them to hang as nicely as I’d like.
The general shape of the suit seemed pretty good though, and I was rather optimistic about the outcome.
The Final Suit
When I came to Wrocław for the fourth time in May 2018, the suit was basically ready. Some adjustments and alterations were made on the spot – including adding even more room in the trousers’ legs. Here’s what the suit looks like now.
The Fit and The Style
The suit fits nicely, offers a good range of motion. The collar sits close to the neck as it should. The chest is cut a bit more generous than what I’m typically used to, but that’s quite fine. It also works well with somewhat extended shoulders of the jacket.
The construction of the chest canvas is rather traditional, so it has, in addition to a layer of canvas, a more sturdy chest piece and a layer of flannel. I’m not sure about this choice, especially with this kind of airy, lightweight cloth; I think I would’ve preferred something lighter.
What I do enjoy however is the focus on the handwork – the canvas is prepared and pad-stitched by hand. There’s, I believe, no fusible used at all, with even the breast pocket being reinforced with a piece of canvas instead.
I think I’d prefer the fronts to be cut a little differently – with a curve that has its peak at the middle button, and then opens the jacket up gently below the buttoning point. Instead it appears almost a straight line that starts curving only below the bottom button – especially visible when the jacket is open.
There are things I do like a lot though: overall proportions decided by the jacket length, button placement, gorge height, sleeve width and length.
Trousers fit pretty well too, with a nice, straight crease from top to bottom. There’s a bit of an issue with the fly though, as you can see on the photo below. And I still wouldn’t mind a little more room in hip/thigh area, especially on the right, but there was simply not enough fabric left to let it out even further.
The Finish and The Details
A lot of work and effort has been put into the finish of the suit. Hand-made buttonholes are neat and look great, including the impressive Milanese on the lapel. Pick stitching along the edges of the fronts of the jacket, as well as the waistcoat, is made with thick silk buttonhole twist rather than subtler finishing thread – it’s, of course, a matter of taste, but nevertheless it’s been done with a lot of attention and dedication. The shirred sleevehead looks great too.
The barchetta breast pocket is made in a peculiar way. Instead of being made with a single folded piece of fabric, it’s two pieces sewn together; you can see it on the close-up. It has been changed in the later orders.
Some issues I have: the edges of the lapels and the gorge could be neater. I understand it’s all hand-made, and certain imperfections are not only inevitable, but up to a certain point even desirable – but I’ve had and seen hand-made jackets with straighter and neater edges, with the gorge seam following nicely the line set by the top edge of the lapel instead of creating a little breaking point there. There are small, but noticeable differenced between the left and the right in this area, and I must admit it bothers me.
Another problem is with the trousers – the curtain of lining just below the waistband tends to slide out, which is neither aesthetically pleasing, nor comfortable (the smooth material makes it easier for the trousers to slide down the waist a centimetre or so).
I like this suit. I like how it fits and how it feels when worn; I’m incredibly satisfied with the amount of handwork and the attention to details obviously paid during the process. If I could change things about it, I most certainly would – but they’re rather small, and don’t outweigh the positives. And I’m certain they will be ironed out in time.
A really great thing is that the atelier offered to make any alterations and remove issues that reveal themselves during wear free of charge, and not just to me – they actually try to do follow-up on their clients and see if there is anything else that can be fixed after the order has been finished. I commend this attitude.
It’s great to see a new enterprise like Andell’s cropping up in Poland, with their ambitious approach and the need for constant improvement of their product. I keep my fingers crossed and hope to see them get bigger and better.