Entrepreneurialism is growing palpably in Chengdu. The expat community has long been opening the doors to new establishments, particularly on the restaurant and nightlife side of things. The success, not just in popularity but also financially, of local landmarks like The Spot and Jellyfish is hardly a secret. But there has also been a movement towards more boutique shops, places that offer top-quality products from abroad. The top-shelf beer from Beer’s Nest is now being served in a second location. Then there are the boys at Natooke Bike Shop who turn out gorgeous hand-crafted two-wheelers, often offering more modern renditions on the vehicle that so famously consumed an increasingly urbanizing China’s streets in the 80’s and 90’s.
Most interesting is that the consumer base of these new foreign enterprises is largely Chinese. Upscale Italian restaurants and European delis, types of restaurants that used to emerge as expat comfort food all around bigger cities in China, are now catering to wealthier Chinese customers, a growing demographic that seems more willing to part with their cash.
But what we haven’t seen much of foreigners opening typically Chinese businesses. Bars and clubs, yes, hot pot restaurants and silk stores, no.
Enter Suit Republic
Michael McDonald, a 26 year old Scot and four year China veteran, has just opened Chengdu’s first foreign-run tailor shop. Many come to China anticipating enjoying the excellent tailoring here, and equal numbers are discouraged in discovering their peculiar absence here in Chengdu.
Suzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and even Beijing—these are tailor-replete cities. When I lived in Suzhou, a city with a proud history of silk and fabric craftsmanship and now the wedding dress capital of China, a bolt of fabric and a picture torn out of a magazine could produce a made-to-fit suit in a week. For whatever reason, Chengdu suffers from a lack of that affordable quality associated with Chinese tailors.
Like most start-ups, Michael’s new venture started with a problem: he couldn’t find a damn suit in Chengdu. In 2012 he got in touch with a well-reputed Beijing tailor and started cooperating on Tailor Made Chengdu. This seasonal event brought these high-end Beijing tailors into Chengdu armed with measuring sticks and fabric swaths. They’d take requests and measurements, fly back to Beijing, and send back the finished product weeks later. With the popularity of these events came the idea for a storefront.
His goal is to bring high-quality, affordable, tailor-made formalwear to Chengdu in an English and Chinese friendly setting. Set in what has become a hotbed for startups, Suit Republic is located in the Poly Center in the South of Chengdu near the US Consulate. We got a sneak peak at the HQ, and the place looks simple, refined, and to the point. And, yes, there is beer in the fridge.
Michael is no stranger to starting up. He currently co-owns Dragonfly, a popular, cozy bar. He also organizes and runs the monthly Chengdu Business Connection, an opportunity for expats and locals to get together, mingle, and, more often than not, drink. Find him on the Chengdu Forum posting about what’s been up to recently.
Free Suit Offer & Discounts
With the grand opening of SuitRepublic fast approaching, Michael is hooking up Chengdu Living readers with a chance to win a free suit and a standing 10% discount on all Suit Republic merchandise.
If you want to win a free suit (2,000 RMB value, swanky, swanky), share this article on WeChat AND add Michael’s WeChat account, UKMichael.
If you want to redeem the 10% discount, you’ve got to email [email protected] with the subject line reading “Chengdu Living.”
Note: Suit Republic was just added to Chengdu Places with directions and operating hours. Find that link here: Suit Republic on Chengdu Places Note: The Suit Republic is located in Unit 1713 building A of the Poly Center