Interview with Westwood Hart: Pioneering the Future of Bespoke Fashion

Westwood Hart is a tailoring company that creates custom tailored, bespoke grade, hand sewn garments, including suits, sport coats, tuxedos, dress shirts and much more for men. But they are much more than that. Founded on a legacy of excellence and craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Westwood Hart is a name that resonates with quality and precision in the world of men's fashion.

Westwood Hart

Their journey began in the late 1960s when Peter Lau opened one of Hong Kong's premier manufacturing workshops. Peter's career in tailoring started as a salesman for a distinguished suit retailer, where he immersed himself in the trade. He went on to complete an apprenticeship in pattern making and cloth cutting, and progressed to become a master tailor (commonly referred to as ‘shifu’ in Hong Kong), capable of drafting suit patterns for individual clients. His role at the shop was comprehensive, encompassing sales, cutting, sewing, and even cleaning, which provided him with an in-depth understanding of the tailoring industry.

Peter's expertise led him to travel extensively to the USA for trunk shows, representing the retailer. Although he found these trips exhilarating in his youth, and built many friendships along the way, the frequent travel eventually took a toll on his family life. As his family grew, Peter quickly realized that the constant separations from his wife and young children were unsustainable in the long term. He decided to establish his own workshop, aiming to supply and manufacture for other direct sellers who embarked on similar overseas trunk shows.

From his initial days, Peter specialized in hand-tailored, bespoke garments. Their hand-crafted, authentic sartorial production method, locally known as 'Shanghai tailoring,' is what sets them apart, from many other online suitmakers. Today, they remain one of the largest custom tailoring houses based in Hong Kong. The company also provides a top-level bespoke grade, hand-tailored clothing for women, including dresses and skirts.

All Vincent, Peter’s younger son, ever heard after school while doing his homework at his dad's workshop was the sound of sewing machines and the words "2BNL" repeatedly spoken over and over again – short for "2 Button Notch Lapel", being translated from English to Chinese for the skilled workers and head cutters (that was the most common suit style they were making back then). This was a time before the internet when every detail had to be translated and recorded manually by hand. As the only child at school wearing custom-made monogrammed shirts, and blazers, Vincent often felt out of place among his peers, longing to blend in with more ready-to-wear attire like all the other children. He still recalls how his blazer was the only one with gold buttons, while everyone else had ordinary plastic ones. However, several years later, his perspective shifted. Vincent came to cherish the uniqueness and craftsmanship of his wardrobe, realizing that these bespoke pieces were not just clothing, but a testament to his family's dedication to quality and individuality. This early exposure instilled in him a profound appreciation for the art of bespoke tailoring and a commitment to continuing his father's legacy.

Peter's workshop, renowned for its bespoke tailoring and meticulous craftsmanship, quickly became a cornerstone in the industry. Initially, the focus was on serving as a CMT (Cut, Make, and Trim) house for several retail stores in the USA, Europe, and Australia. They produced private label collections and established a reputation for unparalleled quality. By the 1990s, in a bid to streamline the custom tailoring process for their partners, the workshop began sourcing bolts of fabrics from Italy and England – countries renowned for the world's best fabrics. These suppliers remain their top fabric sources to this day. Over the years, Peter and his team have created bespoke suits for a diverse clientele, including celebrities, basketball and baseball players, other sports personalities, and several CEOs and top-level executives of multinational corporations.

In the wake of the global pandemic (Covid-19), Vincent saw an opportunity to expand their rich heritage into the retail sector. He is driven by the belief that bespoke hand-sewn tailoring should be accessible to more than just high-powered executives, industry leaders and the elites. It should be within reach for everyone, from new graduates embarking on their careers, to professionals climbing the corporate ladder, and even educators who take pride in their appearance. This vision led to the birth of Westwood Hart, bringing the same exceptional quality and personalized service to a global audience through an online platform. By leveraging the power of the internet, Westwood Hart offers unparalleled quality tailoring to clients across the globe, seamlessly blending decades of expertise with cutting-edge technology to ensure each garment is a perfect harmony of tradition and innovation.

We were fortunate to spend an hour with Vincent, at his workshop in Hong Kong, to learn more about his company and the legacy of bespoke tailoring they continue to uphold. Vincent shared insights into the rich history, exceptional craftsmanship, and innovative spirit that define Westwood Hart.

What are the core values and long-term goals of Westwood Hart?
At Westwood Hart, our core values center around providing exceptional quality and craftsmanship at affordable prices. We take immense pride in our expertise, experience, and meticulous attention to detail, employing old-world artisanal traditional tailoring techniques. Making high-quality, bespoke clothing accessible to everyone is key to our mission. Traditionally, bespoke garments, such as those from Savile Row in England, have been the domain of the wealthy. However, we strongly believe that this level of quality and customization should be available to all, not just a select few. This principle drives us to innovate continuously and streamline our processes, enabling us to offer premium products at reasonable prices.

Our long-term goal is to revolutionize the perception and adoption of tailored clothing. In a world increasingly dominated by casual fashion, we aspire to reintroduce the sophistication and elegance of tailored garments. We envision a future where tailored clothing becomes a staple in everyday wardrobes around the globe, transforming tailored excellence into an everyday luxury for our customers. Even if someone isn't dressing to the nines, we'd love to see them reach into their closet and choose a simple dress shirt over a t-shirt, or a blazer over a hoodie, embodying a shift towards appreciating and valuing bespoke clothing.

How does Westwood Hart differentiate itself in the competitive market of men's fashion?
Vincent laughs. Where do you want me to begin? Westwood Hart stands apart from other online suit companies in several key ways. First and foremost, we own our workshop and our cloth, ensuring complete control over the entire production process. Unlike companies that outsource their work, our vertical integration allows us to offer an extensive range of options and styles while keeping prices affordable. That's a great benefit of being vertically integrated and not having to pay any middlemen, which inflate the cost of the product.

Because we're a true custom tailoring workshop, our customization capabilities are virtually unlimited and certainly unparalleled. We've had customers requesting to replicate vintage styles from the 1920s, and we've done it. Others have wanted suits inspired by famous movies, and we've delivered. We've even collaborated with fashion designers to bring their unique and creative visions to life.

In an effort to simplify our offerings, we provide 64 types of high-quality suit buttons, including horn, bone, corozo, and mother-of-pearl. We offer 88 varieties of printed fancy linings, in addition to hundreds of classic plain color pure silk Bemberg linings we stock. Plus, we are the only company that offers bespoke linings where customers can personalize the interior of their garments with images of a bride and groom wedding photoshoots, or your pets, your cars, your family, your favorite sports teams, company logos, and more. This level of customization is unmatched and unheard of in the online custom tailoring realm.

When it comes to styling the garments, the possibilities are endless. Even if a specific request isn't featured in our online customization portal, we do accommodate it. We work closely with our customers to ensure every detail is tailored to their preferences, including lapel width, shoulder padding, jacket pocket models, various double-breasted models, pleats on trousers, and almost every aspect of our workmanship. Again, nothing is off-limits. In fact, we've had to limit our offerings online just to avoid overwhelming our customers.

Our ability to offer such comprehensive services is rooted in our foundational strength: owning our entire manufacturing process. This allows us to maintain the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship, making Westwood Hart truly unique in the market.

Westwood Hart

Could you elaborate on the range of products offered by Westwood Hart?
With a rich legacy in custom tailoring, we proudly offer an extensive and diverse range of tailored products that cater to various sartorial needs. Our collection includes custom suits, sport coats, blazers, tuxedos, formal wear, trousers, vests, waistcoats, and dress shirts. We also specialize in more casual tailored attire such as chinos, jeans, overcoats, and outerwear. During the COVID-19 pandemic, as work-from-home culture became prevalent, we innovated our offerings to include tailored casual products like walking suits and joggers, which will eventually be available on our website.

Our expertise is not limited to specific fabrics or styles. We work with a wide array of materials, from luxurious wool, wool blends, mohair, silk, and cashmere, to more casual and textured fabrics like denim, seersucker, corduroy, velvet, and cotton. This versatility allows us to produce an impressive variety of garments, each tailored to the specific needs and preferences of our customers.

Moreover, our commitment to tailoring excellence extends beyond men's fashion. We are dedicated to providing custom-tailored garments for women, children, transgender individuals, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This inclusive approach ensures that everyone, regardless of gender or identity, can experience the luxury and precision of custom-tailored clothing. Each piece is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, embodying our dedication to quality and our passion for helping every customer look and feel their best. Our inclusivity and broad range of products truly set Westwood Hart apart, making tailored elegance accessible to all.

What can you tell us about the construction of your garments?
There are many aspects that set Westwood Hart apart, but our main focus has always been on achieving the perfect fit. Fit is the foundation of any great garment; it’s in our ethos. No matter how exceptional the materials or construction techniques are, if the fit isn’t right, the wearer won’t wear it, and the garment fails to meet its purpose. To achieve this impeccable fit, our garments are created by hand-drafted paper patterns. That’s the foundation. This is something which made-to-measure, or ready-to-wear companies can’t replicate. Then, to add to it, our clothes are meticulously hand-sewn, ensuring a level of precision that machine stitching simply cannot match. You can take a look at this process at our YouTube page, where we like to educate our customers, and also provide complete transparency.

Another key element that distinguishes us is our full canvas construction, with no fusing on the inside. Unlike many online tailors who offer machine-made fused, or half-canvas garments, every suit we create features a full canvas made from horsehair. Furthermore, the canvas is sewn-on by hand, not by machines. This traditional method provides an unmatched structure and shape, allowing the suit to drape naturally and conform to the wearer's body over time. This results in enhanced comfort and fit, which are crucial for a superior garment.

Many online tailors like to boast about half-canvas construction, but even that canvas is often machine-stitched within minutes in an effort to boost their efficiency and productivity. We are different. We dedicate time and attention to each fabric, carefully selecting the right weight of canvas to ensure it’s neither too stiff nor too soft. This meticulous process ensures the canvas complements the fabric perfectly, enhancing the garment's fit and drape.

Equally important is our dedication to hand-sewn craftsmanship. Every suit we craft is meticulously hand-stitched, ensuring the right tension and precision in the canvas, the armscye, the sleeve and coat hem, the trousers waistband, and even the buttonholes. This process allows for a more elegant drape and a precise fit, contributing significantly to the garment's durability and longevity. It also allows for added comfort since the stich tension is correct at all key places of the garment. The human touch in every stitch ensures that each piece is not only unique but also crafted to the highest standards of quality.

These two aspects – full canvas construction and hand-sewn craftsmanship – are the cornerstones of our tailoring philosophy. They reflect our unwavering commitment to delivering garments that are not only visually stunning but also superior in comfort and durability. For those interested in learning more about what makes our suits exceptional, I encourage you to visit our website, where we detail all the features and benefits of our bespoke offerings.

How do you approach fabric selection, and what options do you offer?
At Westwood Hart, we take immense pride in the vast variety of fabrics we offer, showcasing a spectrum of designs, qualities, weights, brands, and origins. We are the only company in the industry that provides over 1,000 suit fabrics, a range that is truly unmatched. This extensive selection ensures that we can cater to the unique tastes and preferences of every customer, allowing us to create garments that are both distinctive and tailored to individual style.

Our fabric selection is the result of exclusive partnerships with some of the most prestigious mills in the world. We collaborate with esteemed names such as Dormeuil, Scabal, Holland & Sherry, Loro Piana, Guabello, Reda, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanificio Cerruti, and E. Thomas amongst others. These fabrics primarily hail from England, Italy and Belgium, renowned for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship. These regions are synonymous with luxury textiles, and their mills have a storied heritage of producing the finest fabrics available.

By sourcing fabrics from these legendary mills, we ensure that our offerings include a wide array of luxurious materials such as classic wool, sumptuous cashmere, innovative blends, and more. Each fabric is selected for its superior quality, durability, and aesthetic appeal, ensuring that our garments are not only beautiful and possess a good hand-feel, but are also long-lasting.

In terms of colors, we offer an extensive palette for classic suits, including many shades of black, greys, blues, and browns. For sport coats and blazers, we provide bolder colors and patterns such as reds, maroon, greens, cream, and orange. Our collection also features a plethora of classic, and fashion-forward designs for tuxedos. We provide a diverse range of summer and winter materials such as linens, tweeds, flannels, seersucker, velvets, corduroy, too. This variety ensures that we can cater to any occasion and personal preference.

Can you explain the customization process and the options available to customers?
Our customization process is where our customers truly get to express their creativity and individuality. Thanks to our complete control over the garment production process, we offer an unparalleled level of customization that allows every aspect of the garment to be tailored to the customer's exact preferences.

This includes everything from button configurations and pocket styles to the shape and width of lapels, and even unique features like elbow patches. We provide a wide array of options for double-breasted suits and vests, button stances, shoulder padding, cuffs, and jacket pocket styles. The flexibility extends to trouser pleat models and much more.

Our customization options are nearly limitless. Customers can choose from wide peak lapels to skinny notch lapels, various button fly styles for trousers, different fabrics for inner waistbands, multiple hem widths, coin pockets, suspender buttons, side tabs, and even completely unlined jackets. Whether they prefer high-rise or low-rise pants, every preference can be accommodated. We also offer personalized embroidery, such as having their names stitched inside their garments.

One of the standout features of our service is the extensive selection of 64 button options, and over 100 linings. Furthermore, our bespoke lining service is particularly popular, allowing customers to have their favorite sports team, family photos, cars, company logos, wedding photoshoots, or any other image printed onto the lining of their garments. This ensures that each suit is completely unique and holds personal significance for the wearer.

What truly sets us apart is that we offer all these customization options at no additional cost. Unlike many others, we don’t believe in nickel-and-diming our customers. As we handle everything in-house, without relying on middlemen, we can provide these hand-tailored services directly and affordably.

Ultimately, our goal is to make the customization process as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. We encourage our customers to explore and unleash their creativity, and have fun designing their garments. And, of course, we are always available to provide guidance and support through Zoom calls, consultations, and personalized assistance.

What is the typical turnaround time for an order?
Our typical turnaround time for an order is approximately two weeks, thanks to our smooth and efficient production system. We strive to maintain this timeline to ensure our customers receive their designed clothing promptly. However, several factors can influence this timeframe.

The volume of orders we receive can impact turnaround times, particularly during peak seasons or when our factory is exceptionally busy. Additionally, local holidays, such as Chinese New Year, can affect production schedules and extend delivery times. Despite these potential delays, we always communicate transparently with our customers and manage their expectations regarding delivery times on our website, along with in our newsletters.

Overall, our streamlined production process and dedicated team work diligently to ensure that each garment is crafted to perfection and delivered within a reasonable timeframe.

How do customers provide their measurements, and how do you ensure accuracy?
We recognize that measuring oneself can be daunting for many, and there can be variations in how instructions are perceived, understood and applied. To accommodate our customers' diverse needs and ensure precise measurements, we offer four distinct methods for providing measurements.

Firstly, we encourage customers to have their measurements taken by a local tailor, or a friend at home. To facilitate this, we provide a comprehensive yet straightforward guide complete with illustrative pictorials. This guide covers 15 essential measurements, which are sufficient to craft a custom suit, tuxedo, sport coat, trousers, vest, overcoat, topcoat, and dress shirt.

Secondly, for those who have a favorite garment they wish to replicate, we offer a simple solution. Customers can take measurements from their existing piece and send them to us, following our detailed visual instructions. This method ensures that the new garment captures the fit and comfort of a beloved item.

Thirdly, customers can choose to send us the garment they want to replicate directly. To make this process hassle-free, we cover the shipping costs for our customers in the USA. This option is particularly useful for those who prefer to leave the measuring entirely to our skilled tailors.

Lastly, for those who prefer a more straightforward approach, we offer the option to select a standard off-the-rack suit size, and make modifications to it if needed. Customers can then specify their desired fit and make additional customizations as needed.

We have left no stone unturned in catering to all types of customers, ensuring that everyone can find a measurement method that suits their comfort level and needs.

To further enhance accuracy, we encourage customers to send profile photos showing their front, sides, and back profile. These photos help our tailors better understand intricate details of the customer's shoulder slope, shape, stance and posture, leading to a more accurate fit. For privacy, we request that customers crop their faces, as we only need the shoulders, torso, and lower body. Although optional, these photos significantly contribute to achieving a perfectly tailored garment.

Through these diverse methods and our dedication to precision, we strive to ensure that every customer receives a garment that fits impeccably and reflects our commitment to custom tailoring excellence.

What is your approach to shipping and returns?
At Westwood Hart, we are committed to providing a seamless and delightful shopping experience for our customers, which extends to our shipping and returns policies. We are pleased to offer free worldwide shipping on all our products, ensuring that our garments reach customers anywhere across the globe without any additional cost. Our dedication to customer satisfaction is epitomized by our Perfect Fit Guarantee. We recognize that the true measure of a tailored garment lies in its fit and feel. If a customer is not entirely satisfied with the fit or craftsmanship of their purchase, they can return it within 30 days for a full refund, no questions asked. This policy reflects our unwavering confidence in our products and our commitment to meeting our customers' expectations.

By providing not only exceptional garments but also exceptional service, we ensure that our customers feel valued and supported throughout their entire shopping journey with us. Our approach to shipping and returns underscores our belief in quality, convenience, and customer satisfaction.

How does Westwood Hart ensure excellent customer service?
At Westwood Hart, we are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and are always ready to meet and exceed our customers' needs. Our support team is accessible through various channels, including phone, chat, email, WhatsApp, social media, and even Zoom calls. This multi-channel approach ensures that customers can reach us in the way that is most convenient and comfortable for them.

We believe in being proactive and responsive, ensuring that inquiries and issues are handled promptly and efficiently. Whether a customer needs assistance with measurements, has questions about our customization options, or requires help with their order, our team is always available to provide personalized support.

We strive to make the entire purchasing process as smooth and enjoyable as possible. By offering comprehensive support at every stage, from initial inquiries to post-purchase follow-ups, we ensure that our customers feel valued and well-cared-for throughout their journey with us. Our commitment to excellence in customer service is a key aspect of our mission to deliver a truly bespoke experience.

What challenges have you faced in the industry, and how have you overcome them?
One of the significant challenges we face in the industry is managing and meeting customer expectations. This is crucial for maintaining trust and ensuring satisfaction. To address this, we focus heavily on clear and consistent communication. By ensuring that our customers know exactly what to expect in terms of quality and timeframe, we leave little room for ambiguity.

We make it a point not to over-promise or oversell our offerings. Transparency is at the heart of our customer service philosophy. From the initial consultation to the final delivery, we keep our customers informed at every step of the process. This honest approach helps us build trust and create repeat customers who appreciate our reliability and dedication to quality.

In addition to communication, we continuously strive to improve our processes and services based on customer feedback. This proactive approach allows us to address potential issues before they become problems and ensures that we consistently meet or exceed our customers' expectations. By focusing on transparency and continuous improvement, we have built a loyal customer base that values the bespoke experience we offer.

What are your future plans for Westwood Hart?
Our vision for the future of Westwood Hart is both exciting and ambitious. We aim to expand our offerings by introducing a dedicated women’s line, bringing the same level of bespoke craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail that we are renowned for in men’s fashion. This expansion will allow us to cater to a broader audience, ensuring that women, too, can experience the luxury and perfect fit of custom-tailored clothing.

In addition to our women’s line, we are set to revolutionize casual wear with our tailored approach. Recognizing the modern wardrobe's evolution, we see a growing demand for tailored casual wear that marries comfort with elegance. Our forthcoming collection will feature stylish yet comfortable pieces, such as tailored walking suits, joggers, and other casual attire, all crafted with the same precision and quality as our formal wear.

These expansions reflect our unwavering commitment to innovation and our dedication to meeting the diverse needs of our customers. By continually broadening our product range, we aim to redefine what custom tailoring can offer, ensuring that Westwood Hart remains at the forefront of tailored fashion. We are excited about the future and look forward to bringing our customers even more exceptional clothing options.

Can you tell us more about your team of tailors and workers who bring these bespoke garments to life?
We are incredibly proud of our team at Westwood Hart. We have a group of fun-loving, hard-working tailors, cutters, seamstresses, sewers, and our dedicated factory foreman. They're a close-knit bunch, always having a good time and enjoying themselves, but also ready to put in the hard work and overtime if needed to ensure every garment meets our high standards.

Best of all, we have our pet dog, Buttons, who keeps everyone's spirits high. He's fun and jovial, making sure that even on the busiest days, there's always a smile on our faces. Our team’s camaraderie and dedication are the heart and soul of Westwood Hart, and together, we strive to create the finest bespoke garments for our customers.

Thank you so much for your time today, Vincent. It has been wonderful learning more about Westwood Hart and the incredible work you and your team do. Wishing you all the best for the future.
Vincent Lau: Thank you very much for your time. I truly appreciate it.


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Tags:Westwood Hart, bespoke suits, hand sewn garments, sport coats, tuxedos, dress shirts, menswear

About the Author

Silvia Kabaivanova

As the founder of Be Global Fashion Network and several other fashion websites, Silvia has been working for more than 20 years covering fashion industry trends and news. With a passion for the fashion business, she focuses on sustainable fashion and innovations, custom fashion and print on demand services. Silvia is a Chairman of Bulgarian Fashion Association. You can reach her at silvia@bgfashion.net


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