Thanks to fellow blogger Jeffery of Made by Hand, I made a point recently of visiting Russell's Tailor in Montreal. The shop is on Rue de la Montagne, close to the department store Holt Renfrew on Rue Sherbrooke.
I stopped by and chatted with Henri, who works the front of the house. Their bespoke garments are all made on the premises by their staff, which includes a head cutter, a separate trousermaker and a dedicated shirtmaker. They also have a relationship with a Canadian outerwear manufacturer for customers interested in made-to-measure casual outerwear (e.g. a suede leather jacket). Although Russell's do not have a set schedule, they do travel to NYC, Philadelphia and Toronto depending on customer demand. Henri in particular travels to NYC to take care of customers. They carry fabrics from Scabal, Dormeuil, Holland & Sherry, Zegna and Vitale Barberis Canonico (through Canadian distributor United Silks).
What does the Russell's house cut look like? Henri describes it as a "pretty firm shoulder". I would call it a slightly relaxed, "de-roped" English shoulder, featuring a firm shoulder and a deliberate absence of roping at the top of the sleevecap. The starting cost for a two-piece suit in Super 120s cloth (as of June 2010) is around $3500, which is very favorable compared to NYC bespoke prices (or retail Kiton prices for that matter). That price advantage appears to be a significant draw for them commercially. Most of their customers are located outside of Montreal, in the rest of Canada and the US. I should also note they do CMT (cut make trim) of customer-supplied fabric. For those with longtime tailors, this could be an attractive option for odd jackets or occasional suits.
For a first-time customer, the fitting process takes three appointments and up to several weeks (and as a little as one to two weeks depending on the customer's availability). The first appointment takes care of measurement. The second is what Henri describes as a "slip-on" stage with the jacket body, one attached sleeve and an unfinished collar. The last appointment is essentially the pickup of the final garment.
I also inquired about the level of handwork (on behalf of my OCD bespoke readers!). They do use sewing machines to sew up straight seams (such as the center back seam of a jacket) but reserve handwork for areas such as lining attachment and buttonholes. However, some customers specifically request handsewing or handstitching for all aspects of the garment. They'll accommodate this but charge an extra amount for the labor involved. I think it is a nice option to have for those who care about the level of handwork.