The Perfect Suit

Your body isn’t off the rack, why should your clothes be?
Andy Mohan, left, fits a customer at his downtown showroom.

Photo: gina finkelstein

Once upon a time, Honolulu men knew how to dress. In the 1880s, this magazine’s founder, King David Kalakaua, wouldn’t be seen downtown in anything but a tailor-made linen suit. In the 1950s, statehood was forged by suited men in trim, modernist cuts. But since the early 1970s, aloha wear has been the uniform for Honolulu men. The art of the suit seemed hopelessly lost in a jungle of floral prints.

If you’re ready to fight the flower, you do have local options for suiting up. Off-the-rack suit shopping in Honolulu is probably better than its ever been. But, the best fit comes from ordering a suit, made-to-measure, as men once commonly did.

Your best two options in Honolulu are:

Neiman Marcus Made-to-Measure. The process here starts with a conversation about what the suit is for, how you like your suit to fit, things you’ve liked and disliked about other suits you’ve owned, even people whose look you admire. “Then we start talking fabrics,” explains Vince Motas, men’s clothing manager. “Depending on how a man wants the suit to wear, what he wants to put across, we’ll steer him to the different fabric houses, such as Armani, Zegna and Brioni, discuss different weights and colors.”

Neiman Marcus then takes 20 measurements of you, and photographs, taking note of how you move, then sends this information off to the made-to-measure experts in the Dallas headquarters, then the fabric house in Italy where your suit is made. “Ten weeks later, the suit comes back for the final fitting.”

Made-to-measure sportcoats start at $1,800, suits at $2,900. Of course, you could splurge and order your suit in wool from the rare South American vicuña, a member of the camel family—for $38,000. 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. 951-8887.

Since 1962, Andy Mohan has run a small shop downtown, selling off-the-rack suits, blazers, shirts and slacks, many of his own design—and made-to-measure custom suits. He has suited governors going back to William Quinn, so he can certainly dress you in style. Custom suits range from $675 to $1,280 and up, depending on the cut and fabric, and you have your choice of literally hundreds of English and Italian fabrics from which to choose. Mohan, or his assistant, Arnold Ranchez, will measure you in Honolulu and have your suit made in Kowloon, Hong Kong, with a three- to four-week turnaround. “We can also duplicate a favorite suit you already have, or bring photos of a suit you like and we can make it for you,” explains Ranchez. Topa Financial Center, 700 Bishop St. 521-1222.