Benson in Binondo

Now that we’ve understood the suit features it’s time to choose the cloth. Choosing the appropriate cloth for a suit isn’t easy especially if it’s your first time. It can be quite intimidating looking at swatches or rolls of cloth without an idea of what to look for. By approaching the process with knowledge and a set of criteria it becomes easier to pick out the right cloth.

Cloth Characteristics

Since this suit is intended for weddings or business the cloth we’ll be buying should be made of wool. The wool we are looking for are of the worsted variety. Worsted fabrics have a fine, smooth and crisp appearance. They are also light weight and hold creases well. These are the characteristics we are looking for.

I must note that one should stay away from fabrics that look shiny. Fabrics that look shiny are not appropriate for formal occasions (you’re not a matinee idol) and make your suit look cheap. All that shine is due to the synthetic fibers which also make it warm to wear. Not a very good idea if you’re in a tropical country.

Where To Buy

In a previous post I listed down where to buy cloth in Binondo. They are my go-to places as they provide the best bang for the buck. For those who do not want to go all the way to Chinatown I would suggest the Kamuning Market in Quezon City. They have an equally good selection of cloth but you’ll be paying two to four times more than what you would pay in Binondo. I remember paying PHP 900 per yard for cloth in Kamuning but that same cloth was only PHP 300 per yard in Binondo. At four yards I would have saved PHP 2,400. It’s a lot of money that’s why I strongly recommend buying in Binondo. If money isn’t an issue or you simply don’t want to trouble yourself going all the way to Binondo, go to the Kamuning Market.

Choosing Cloth

In the shop you’ll be asked what kind of cloth you are looking for. You’re looking for suiting fabrics and they’ll proceed to show you some cloth to choose from. From here it starts to get confusing but here are some tips to make it easier.

1. Look for worsted cloths with a fine, smooth and crisp appearance.

2. The cloth should be in a single color (navy or grey) in a gabardine/twill weave.

3. Feel the fabric to determine whether you like how it feels on the skin.

4. Compare cloths side-by-side to see which shade you prefer.

5. It should be light weight as heavier fabrics are not suitable for tropical climates.

General Advice

Buying fabrics in places such as Binondo or Kamuning isn’t without its caveats. The sellers don’t really know the goods they sell and are just intent on closing the deal as quickly as possible. Here are some pieces of knowledge that should further help in dealing with them.

1. Don’t trust the name and super numbers labeled on the cloth. High quality cloth isn’t sold at shops in Binondo or Kamuning.

2. The cloths they sell are not from Italy or the UK, contrary to what the sellers say.

3. Ideally, it should be between PHP 300 to 800 per yard. If you’re paying over PHP 1,000 per yard you’re paying too much. If you’re paying less than PHP 300 per yard it’s most likely not made of wool.

4. Even though they say it’s ‘pure wool’ it’s safe to assume a small percentage of fiber isn’t wool. A small amount of synthetic fiber is mixed in to make the cloth stronger.

Sellers know that the majority of the people who buy are clueless. But they don’t know you’ve read this guide. Now that you’re armed with the right knowledge and criteria you can confidently choose the cloth you want for your suit.

Next: So You Want To Have A Suit Made | Part 3: The Tailor

So You Want To Have A Suit Made Series
Part 1: Suit Features
Part 2: Choosing Cloth
Part 3: The Tailor
Part 4: Fitting