Hanging from the railing, swaying in the wind with the sun beating down, its pluses and minuses are all on display. After reaching out and having a feel, I can tell it is not the absolute best money can buy. Still, its level of quality and the attention to detail exceed much of the competition. The plaids along the seam on back match perfectly. Even the big and little houndstooth on the slip loop line up perfectly. The silk material has a heavy hand and none of that slipperiness or the excessively shiny finish. It’s not a seven-fold, with all the excessive fabric use that entails, this Hilditch and Key, Made in the UK, would be perfect for a wedding. It is a good product that costs around 100 dollars. Even more expensive, but often of inferior quality, are versions from Versace, Gucci, Ferragamo, and Hermes with patterns that tend to leave no doubt about their lofty brands. For one dollar, something can be had that looks nearly the same from a distance but is made of polyester and lacks the pattern matching. But most people would probably never notice the difference. A man with the right taste might spend one dollar and look stylish, while another buys a good product but still looks ugly. Luxury goods might have designs that most people deem unattractive. And yet the polyester version always announces itself as a bad product upon close examination. And so it is with most products and services. Someone had the odd idea to hang out all my ties for all to see on the railing of the balcony in our room. This prompted my somewhat melancholic series of reflections. A few of my ties were good products that looked ugly, while many were bad products that looked nice. There was always that temptation to buy an attractive, good-looking tie at a low price. The only real conclusion I came to after all that tie-gazing was that in the future I would have to only buy good ties that looked beautiful too. But there is always the risk of paying a lot for an unattractive tie. How could I trust my own taste? Finding a wife with good taste is critical – even if she is ugly.
In any case, please do send her over to check out our tie selection next time you are passing by Senli and Frye.
It’s almost amusing that only now are finally providing a Chinese translation of the introduction to Senli and Frye. My tailorshop, Senli and Frye, has long been focused on foreigners living in Beijing and sometimes those coming through who then order our wares long-distance. We have never really targeted the Chinese market. The notion was always that there are not enough of Chinese with an appreciation for custom suiting. Most of them would prefer to buy a recognized name for suiting like Ermenegildo Zegna or Armani, feeling confident that with names like that, one cannot go wrong. Spending on luxury has, after all, been mostly about status and face and not so much about appearing stylish or even adhering to standards of Western business attire that are, in the end, Western in origin and not necessarily well understood.
Recently, it has become clear that the Chinese consumer has made it in terms of style maturity. Beijingers and Shanghaiers are increasingly cosmopolitan and the constant barrage of mega-brand marketing has brought a degree of fatigue. They don’t want to see more of the same and keep getting treated like reservoirs of cash waiting to be tapped. At the same time, the local customer does care a great deal about his image – much more than the average American and probably as much as most Europeans. Unlike their American counterparts who seem to have absolutely no problem showing up in shorts or sweat pants at Five Star hotels or fancy bars, Chinese men are eager to learn and maintain standards of decorum. They don’t want to look like badly-dressed buffoons. The days of the proverbial Shanxi coal baron bounding into an Armani and spending a million RMB on 30 suits that don’t fit are long gone.
The other trend that favors us is that men around the world have been looking to upgrade their style and the direction these days tends to be be more traditionalist. Quality, customization, and permanent style are the values espoused by the current set of sartorialists, who reject the flashy designer trendwear and slickness of the metrosexual. This is part of the wider move toward all that is artisanal and authentic – and, yes, I realize those words have become quite irksome. China is aggressive in its ability to keep up with the zeitgeist, and the new men are these trends.
So this is our chance to enter as a contender for the rising Chinese gentleman looking to get a better fit for his suits, overcoats, and shirts. We are hoping to soon offer a full range of products including pocket square, ties, shoe polish, and, hopefully, shoes.
Senli and Frye has been included in the Louis Vuitton Guide to Beijing. This is the first edition of the guide and I am anxious to see who else made the cut. Thanks a lot to the writer, Bénédicte Bro-Cassard, who is also a Consultant and Blogger based here in Beijing. Here is her blog, fearless-in-Beijing on Le Monde.
I should note that our shop looks a bit more attractive than back when Ms. Bro-Cassard visited. I invite all to come through to see the changes. The place has become a sort of micro-club for gentlemen. We have a small bar, a wide selections of books and magazines, and will soon have coffee available all day, thanks to the Coffee Man.
And here is the French version.
Beijing’s premier bespoke tailoring experience. We offer a contemporary version of traditionalist men’s suiting in the best fit for you.
Phone Number: 1391-009-2410
The address is: 1/F, Yaxing Building,46A Liangmaqiao Lu
From the Northeast or Southeast exit of the subway, go east around 200 meters along Liangmaqiao Lu (you will pass the Kempinski hotel on the right), to the second traffic light (the first major intersection). Take a right at the same corner that has the Somerset apartment tower on its southeast corner (take a left and you would be heading toward Women’s Street and the US embassy) and walk fifty meters. The shop is on the left – on the first floor and is visible from the street. It is in the same building with both a Cantonese restaurant on the first floor and a Japanese one on the second.
Senli and Frye is by appointment only so please call or email to schedule a time. A small enterprise relying on one highly-skilled tailor who gets to know your specific style and body type, Sen Li and Frye suits are typically completed in ten days, at the fastest. Some customers on a tight schedule will opt to have the suit shipped, after the fitting. In this case, four days are required.
Sen Li measures every client and cuts every suit. Our competitors in Beijing, whether on the low or high end, almost all send measurements out to factories or workshops in other cities. The cutting is usually done by someone different from the shop assistant who took your measurements. This produces an inferior, less customized result, which might be called made-to-measure as opposed to bespoke.
Our 100% wools are imported from England and Italy and tend to be super 100s, 120s and higher. Those suits selling for under RMB 1,000 at Ya Show and the Silk Market are made from poly-blends. We also offer linen and linen blends from Italy as well as wool and wool/cashmere blend tweeds from Scotland. You will be pleasantly surprised to see the amount of choice. Though sometimes the sheer number of fabrics available can be a bit overwhelming, we will guide you to the choice that is most suitable. Our cashmere wool blends for coating are produced domestically.
Our linings are Bemberg Rayon. This is the most durable lining fabric. In addition to tearing faster, the poly lining used by other tailors will leave you sweaty and uncomfortable. The buttons we use are either horn or the highest end synthetic materials.
Details and Construction
Just to name a few: Our button-holes are hand-sewn. Our suits include sweat guards and cuff guards for the trousers.
Our construction is mostly hand-made. When we do rely on machines, it is mechanical rather than automated sewing devices, offering more precision.
Service and Flexibility
Other top tailors tend to give you their house style, while the cheap ones just make a mess. We labor to create suits according to client’s requirements, though we do request that they bring in an existing suit. We can use this as a model from which to discuss your preferences in terms of fit and styling.
A Note on Shirts, Alterations and Female Clients
Our focus is bespoke suits and coats for men. Since we rely on a small workshop and a single cutter, we do not have the capacity to produce shirts. However, for our clients, we can source shirts from a reputable producer. The price is RMB 550 and the materials are domestic and do not match the level of our suiting fabrics. We would like to note that it does not make sense to order a shirt with us as a trial in order to understand the level of our quality and service, since we do not actually make the shirts.
We are very sorry, but we do not have enough capacity to perform alterations of existing clothing.
Though Sen Li does have the ability to cut dresses, he has decided to focus his talents on suiting. We do not make dresses, wedding gowns, etc. What we can do is traditional suiting for women.
Pricing and Payments:
The price for business suits and cashmere overcoats typically start at RMB 7,000, and rise with the quality of the fabric. We regret to inform you that only cash, paypal, and bank transfer are accepted at the moment. We ask for a 50% deposit at the time the order is placed and the remaining 50% upon completion of the suit. In cases in which the item is mailed, we need full payment including the price of shipping in advance.
Some potential customers believe our prices are high, perhaps because they expect Beijing basement. It is important to realize that for a fully-canvassed suit using Italian and British fabrics, we are quite competitively priced in this market. However, if what we ask is simply beyond your budget, please let us know and we are happy to refer you to our partner that provides an excellent product at a lower price point.
Photos of Clients:
Please note that these are mainly photos from daily life and not studio shots.
Whereas in the West those of modest means must turn to ill-fitting rentals for formal wear, in China the average businessman can have a tailor create a bespoke, high-quality ensemble that will be immeasurably more attractive than what they might wear back home. This allows for a significant addition to the wardrobe, to be worn with pride rather than mere obedience, and not reserved solely for very formal events.
Karim Morcos wore a Senli and Frye black tie ensemble to his wedding in late 2008. See the Cosmo Bride write up on their wedding in our press clippings section. The most reliable choice for younger men like Karim, who are in good shape, is probably a single-breasted, peak lapel dinner jacket, though shawl lapels and double breasted are other good options. Karim has opted for a slim fit and flat-fronted trousers.
Mr. James Whelan wears a two-button, peak lapel suit in a classic Prince of Wales check. As per Mr. Whelan’s taste, the jacket and trousers are made in a very slim-fitting style and narrower lapels with the shoulders and chest being quite structured. The fabric is an super 120s, weighing around 300 grams per meter and made in the United Kingdom.
To look his best at a major annual art show in Beijing, Mr. Michael Hatch commissioned this navy, slim-fitting, suit from Senli and Frye. The suit uses a Chinese fabric in a 280 gram weight.
In this whimsical photo shoot for 1626 magazine, Mr. Nels Frye, creator of Stylites.net and Marketing Director for Senli and Frye, wears a heavy corduroy suit in navy blue. The style is straight from the 1970s, minus the bell-bottoms. Wide lapels, roped shoulders and a heavily suppressed waist are key features.
Another great option for this season is tweed. The classic herringbone sport coat we make is a staple, but we offer a big range of tweed options like birdseyes and houndstooth, checks and plaids, and solids.
Mr. Frye wears a casual tweed sport coat in a heavy-weight herringbone. The coat is 2 and a half button design where the top button is not intended for use. The patch pockets and stitching along the lapels make the jacket more casual. This jacket is one of the favorite casual pieces from Senli and Frye, and has been made by countless clients in variety of styles.
Here are some online reviews of Senli and Frye:
2. City Weekend
3. Time Out
This site is operated by Senli and Frye Co. All business is conducted with this entity and not either Nels Frye or Sen Li personally.
We do provide refunds under any circumstances.
In the case of shipping of items, the customer assumes the risk of loss in transit for all shipments, as is the case with online retailers. This means all payment must come in advance.
Senli and Frye will not distribute your information to ther parties.