Baron Boutique -- An Honest Assessment (UPDATE)

Baron Boutique, an online made-to-measure business started as Baron International Pvt Ltd., has been around since 1998. Two years later, they began serving customers internationally on BaronBoutique.com. They are perhaps best known in North America for their costume replicas, gaining widespread attention for their accurate The Matrix/Reloaded/Revolutions Neo coats in 2003.

(Baron Boutique)
In addition to their The Matrix attire, the Doctor Who replica costumes have been pretty well received as they get the details correct down to the proper back pocket closure and the faux hip pocket flaps. In particular, cosplayers seem to love the Tenth Doctor suit. Be aware that some costume replicas are not as accurate as others. For instance, the replicas of the Brioni and Tom Ford clothes made for James Bond lack some of the nuance that made them special, such as the barchetta breast pocket. They are competently made suits, but you're not getting the full quality and detail of those brands. Before recently, it could also be difficult to make a decision as only some products had actual images of the product they made.

However, with the website update, they have pretty much phased out those copyrighted images and represent the products as their own thing now. Much the same as with Magnoli Clothiers and Royale Filmwear, this allows the customer to get a fair assessment of what they're really buying. Now, I realize costume and prop replicas are a legal grey area. But as David Zaritsky of The Bond Experience puts it, these can be considered an "artist's interpretation" of the original costumes. This may be part of why replica makers, especially small time hobbyists selling on Etsy, are generally left alone. AbbyShot and ANOVOS are the only fan-run costume/prop replica makers I know of that actually get licences from the property holders to sell their products. But, on the other hand, they are both based in North America (Canada and United States, respectively) and it would be easier for intellectual property holders to go after them than Baron Boutique (based in Nepal), Magnoli Clothiers (New Zealand), or Royale Filmwear (Australia). Another new feature is that more costumes are available in multiple colour/pattern options, down to the lining.

Disappointingly, most of Baron's non-costume clothing still uses generic images, which on the previous website were of questionable origin and low quality at times. The new images are far higher quality, seem consistently of the same styles/models, and include more details. Still, even if they're using royalty-free stock images, it would be better to have people modelling garments they actually made rather than getting a suggestion of what you can order.

David Zaritsky spoke to me a bit about his experience buying The World is Not Enough linen suit. His suit actually fit very well and the customer service was as nice as always. However, as it was 13 years ago -- almost the same time I bought my first purchases -- he cannot attest to their quality now. He also admits he was not as focused on screen accuracy as he currently is. Currently, David owns much of the exact clothing Tom Ford made for the last three Bond movies anyway. Can't get much more accurate than that! Wanting to try out one of the new site features, I used the contact form for their replica of the Billy Reid Bond Peacoat featured in Skyfall. The original was unlined, I assume for comfort or to be more versatile in different temperatures. Baron's listing indicated theirs was fully lined. I asked if it could be made unlined as with the "O.G." peacoat. Raj Bista, who has been fielding customer emails since I first sent one 12 years ago, replied promptly and confirmed it would be no problem. Later on, he sent another email to inform me they had updated the garment to be "unstructured" and thus more accurate. This will likely be of value to Bond collectors who cannot quite afford the $700 Billy Reid peacoat, want the unstructured feel, and/or have difficulty with Billy Reid sizing, as some have reported on Bond fansite AJB007. I also made the suggestion of changing the black horn buttons on the TWINE linen suit to the brown horn buttons they currently have available, which are a better match for the tan corozo on the original Brioni garment. They also did this happily. That... is awesome customer service. Clearly they do care about accuracy to some degree, even if they can't quite replicate the finer details of tailoring from upscale clothiers.

The website now has more features than ever before, allowing one to customize down to the trouser waistband closure and shape of the tab. All suits and tailored jackets are now sold as fully canvassed, rather than the half canvassed default offered before. The only inconvenience, however, is the lack of waistcoat options on suits that are not sold as three pieces. Additionally, one cannot specify if they want a skirt or trouser on the women's suits. I hope they will add a few options to change this at some point. Some products are missing compared to the previous site, and I wonder if it's due to them wanting to tighten up their product lineup, that they didn't sell that well, or both. Noticeably, most of their silk products are gone. No more pashminas, satin ties, brocade, or their insane 400+ colour silk selection. Have they gotten out of the silk business entirely? They still carry a few silk fabrics, but nowhere near the selection there was before.

Baby Jovan! My first two purchases.
My personal experience with the company has been somewhat mixed. 12 years ago, I bought a pink Egyptian cotton shirt from them to try out, which had a large cutaway collar and convertible cuffs. Of course, back then I didn't realize that a convertible cuff was not good for much else than being worn as a barrel cuff. The price was a steal, I think $45 at the time. It held up pretty well for a while, then the fusing became unglued over time. By that point I could not fit into it anyway. I later bought a medium grey suit somewhat inspired by James Bond. It had three buttons with double vents and no pleats or belt loops on the trouser, plus a six button waistcoat. At the time I didn't know much about self-supporting trousers, so the lack of side tabs didn't bother me. It didn't fit perfectly, in fact it was a bit big for me, but close enough that I didn't mind. At the time I was still growing a bit anyway. There were minor problems, such as the cuff buttons on one side having thread wrapped shanks while the other side didn't. The price, back then $199 plus $60 full canvas upgrade, was good though. My next purchases did not go so well. I ordered an OCBD which had the fusing come unglued in one wash and the tie that I received had very odd proportions and looked unwearable. I certainly hope quality control has tightened up since then, but it appears to have been. My best advice based on experience is to take measurements accurately, be clear with what you want, and ask lots of questions. Don't expect a $5000 suit for $400 either. No such thing exists unless you're getting a really good deal secondhand, so have realistic expectations. Baron Boutique makes a good suit, but not one that would pass for something from Savile Row.

They offer a "bespoke" service now that has one trying on a cheap cotton prototype garment before finalizing, which should help one obtain a better fit than just blindly sending measurements and hoping it works. They also develop patterns from scratch rather than adjust pre-made patterns, so that certainly helps too. It's still not what I'd call bespoke, but it does help to have a try-on before the final product. I think it could best be referred to as made-to-measure with a self fitting. The measurements section is now universal and kept on file for you to reference or make changes to. They include videos on how to measure and offer the option of sending finished measurements if something already fits you. In my experience, this only works well with shirts. Tailored clothing has so many more variables (such as shoulder padding and inner construction) that depend on the maker, it may be better to just send in your body measurements. Additionally, there is now an actual cart system instead of needing to email them and PayPal separately. Each product now has a review section, though so far I am not seeing any contributions.

These new features, and at least the appearance of increased quality, will likely make Baron Boutique attractive to a wider range of people. But do the products stand up to scrutiny? There are very few reviews online, and the ones I could find including pictures I already linked to above. If you've had any personal experience with them recently, please sound off below.

Update: I contacted Raj Bista to make him aware of my article. He was kind enough to respond.
Hi Jovan,
 
Thank you very much for taking the time out to analyze our website and giving your honest feedback to the community. It means a lot to us. It also gives us tremendous amount of opportunity to improve ourselves and provide the services our customers are looking for. We will be adding more products as we go along and silk will be back in full range very soon. We are learning and implementing everyday to make our products better. Please do not hesitate to give us a try. You definitely will find the differences from your last purchase. Like you have mentioned our cotton try-on helps our customer to ensure fit they desire.
 
Thank you once again.
 Again, great service and a genuine reply.

Comments

  1. Pictured: Tenth Doctor suit in snug, with arms done comfortable.

    Pants are awfully loose for snug, and sleeves are still super tight for comfortable.

    Interested to know your thoughts on the fit.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BhPq_rvB69q/?taken-by=mc.dent

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    1. Interesting. The whole jacket definitely looks snug. The trousers, on the other hand, look closer to the fit of the original costume. That is, trim but not tight. (Since they were based on a pair of off the rack Gap trousers after all.) I'd contact Baron and see if you could get the jacket remade, because that looks uncomfortable to me. Did they also make the brown Tennant suit you're wearing in other pictures?

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    2. Yup, the brown suit was Baron as well. The sleeves were even tight er on that one, so I had them cut off so I can wear the coat over the jacket as a cheat.

      I bought the fabric for the blue suit from Magnoli, so getting it remade might be difficult. It's not a major issue, though - the suit isn't uncomfortable, and I can move around in it pretty easily.

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  3. How long ago was that second picture of you taken? You and your girlfriend look adorable together.

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    Replies
    1. That was during my first year in college. We weren't a couple, I was just her plus-one for prom.

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