Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To Bespoke or To Be Tailored...

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Currently, there is some confusion surrounding custom clothing due to the modern “bespoke” trend. This post is meant to set the record straight on loosely used terms in “custom”. The terms “ready to wear” or “off the rack” refer to suits that are pre-made by manufacturers and are sold as is and altered by a tailor or, if you are very trusting, your local dry cleaner. This is also a good time to highlight the confusion about the word “tailored”. A “ready to wear” suit, sport jacket, or pant is tailored by a tailor or seamstress to fit your body. All suits require some form of tailoring or alterations. The term “tailored” is often misused to describe truly custom or a made to measure program. Tailoring is a process. A suit that has been tailored has simply been altered, it is not custom made.

“Made to measure” refers to a garment that is made in accordance to a manufacturers’ template for your specific sizes in suit jacket and waist size. Additionally, made to measure goods often allow the purchaser to choose from available options for things such as lapel style and coat liner. Made to measure has a template or a style that the manufacturer is already producing. The advantage is the buyer can get a suit jacket and pant up front closer to their size and make some style selections.

“Custom” or “bespoke” are terms that are used loosely to mean all of the above. However, “custom” means that an individual is taking several measurements including chest, suit waist, hip, inseam, outseam, knee, bottom, etc. in order to build a template for the buyers body. Custom clothing typically starts by picking the swatch or fabric from a popular mill like Dormeuil, Zegna, or Loro Piana. Then extensive measurements are taken and style options are reviewed. Style options include everything from lapel type, number of buttons, liner, piping, pic stitching, personal labeling, functional button holes, cell phone pocket, watch pocket in the pant, etc. 
There are different types of custom clothing as well. The most basic form of custom involves picking a swatch, picking options, taking measurements and having that information sent to a mill for the suit to be made. However, some very (and I emphasize VERY) talented tailors (usually master tailors) are skilled enough to take a buyer through the entire process. This means the tailor will make the suit themselves in their work shop and will often due several fittings as they construct the garment. This process in the United States will often run upwards of $2500 and can take even longer than shipping goods to a mill to be made. I hope this clears up some of the confusion. However, if it creates more or if you have a question please feel free to direct it to matt@lesrichards.com 

Stay classy.