The Genteel
January 27, 2021


Surmesur offers the ultimate men's wardrobe by combining traditional tailoring, state-of-the-art technology and affordable prices. Photograph courtesy of Surmesur.

When a customer is in the market for a new garment - be it for a shirt, trousers or a suit - they are faced with two distinct shopping routes: either go to the local department store or pay a visit to the tailor. As many know, the prêt-à-porter or custom made shopping avenues force one to make a major trade-off between quality and price; and the final results often differ dramatically.

Surmesur boutique toronto
The Toronto boutique.
Photograph courtesy of Surmesur.

One Canadian company has set out to change this limited shopping landscape, with the aim of democratising tailor-made services and clothes for men.

Surmesur, as the name suggests (sur mesure in French translates to custom or tailored), is a boutique concept that offers clothing for men designed and manufactured completely according to their tastes and measurements. Founded by brothers François and Vincent Thériault in Québec City in 2010, they tell The Genteel that the company has a very simple objective: "changing the way men buy clothes."

François and Vincent, who both have backgrounds in business and share an entrepreneurial spirit, saw an opportunity to capitalise on a tailoring business practice they noticed in their travels through Asia. As François explains: "While travelling through India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Nepal, China, [and] Vietnam, I realised that there were many tailors that fly overseas to North America and create a trunk show where they meet their clients, take their measurements and then in a few months, the customer receives their new garments. We wanted to improve on this idea by making the travelling tailor into a brick-and-mortar location with faster turn-around time."

Surmesur certainly materialised and took this idea further by integrating tradition with technology in their business model. The company's focus is on providing a unique shopping experience in their boutiques, allowing customers to have total control over the customisation of their garment before it is made. One of Surmesur's taglines is "À chacun son style" (or "Wear your own style"), which hints at the custom and self-designed nature of their menswear.

We wanted to create a new customer experience that was easy for men to communicate their needs and designers in their custom-made garments

The garment design process begins with fabric selection. Surmesur boutiques offer customers a choice from over 5,000 fabrics that, as François tells The Genteel, are sourced by the company primarily from major mills in Italy and England. "Many fabrics [come] from other countries such as India and Japan, Belgium, China, [and] Pakistan," he notes.

As the sea of fabrics within the boutique could potentially overwhelm many first-time designers, consultants are available to walk the gentlemen through the selections. Once fabric options are decided on (details include the primary colour, pattern, material blend, thickness, price range and collection choices), the next step is to select the garment style.

Again, the number of styling options for a shirt, for example, seems limitless - they cover everything from the fit (slim, "Surmesur" or classic) to the sleeve (short versus long), collar, cuff, pocket, placket, the back of the shirt, buttons and even monogramming

François reveals that customers have been very enthusiastic about the idea of having a style consultant for the first time, and use them to the fullest advantage. Consultants guide the style selections and give a preview of each stage of the design on digital touch screens, aiding with the visualisation of what that particular garment will look like.

Surmesur decided to integrate technology within the traditionally hands-on tailoring process - something that, as François elaborates upon, is essential to their business model: "We wanted to create a new customer experience that was easy for men to communicate their needs and desires in their custom-built garments. It was important for us to include the use of technology as the next evolution of custom retail shopping through the use of the personalised kiosk, personalised profiles that link for online ordering, and the body-scanner for perfect measurements."

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When fabric and styling options are finalised, the measurements are taken from customers using the traditional means of tape measure and paper or with the use of 3D full-body scanners, available for boutique visitors in Montréal and Toronto. François explains that the body scanner "helps to extrapolate a digital model of the customer that is input [into] their profiles, which helps to perfect the fit of our garments." These digital customer profiles record the customer's precise measurements, style preferences and past purchases, meaning subsequent in-store and online purchases are simpler, faster and immediately made-to-measure.

Surmesur bespoke tailoring toronto
Various style options available to customers. 
Photograph courtesy of Surmesur. 

Surmesur's shopping and customisation experience rivals other bespoke tailoring companies, while charging prêt-à-porter prices. The garments are crafted in Asia (the company chose the location for its tailoring expertise and supply and delivery manageability), thus reducing operating costs. As a result, customers can expect to pay CAD $45 to $125 for a shirt, while suit prices start at $325, and the turn-around time for a suit from the design stage to delivery to client is two and a half to three weeks.

The Surmesur tailoring service and unique shopping experience is proving successful. After opening a Toronto boutique this past August (the company's third national one), Surmesur is planning a second location in the city. As François reveals, the goals "are to possibly have locations throughout Canada within major city hubs, and the possibility of opening stores in major cities in the U.S." Although it is still in the early stages, the company's transactional e-commerce website
positions Surmesur to fulfil international orders for men's garments in the near future.

In the meantime, prospects for more accessible tailoring services and custom clothes are looking promising. Surmesur might just be the company that will redefine and popularise the tailored shopping experience in North America and beyond.

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