Bespoke suiting is the highest form of men’s tailoring and is the equivalent of haute couture for men’s fashion. To give you a little history, bespoke tailoring came into fruition over 200 years ago before the sewing machine, where all garments were constructed by hand. From the middle ages to around the 18th century, tailors would create their patterns with methods that were kept secret from each other, not even being shared with apprentices, until the master tailor would hand over their craft upon retiring. The quality of the handwork and craftsmanship was incredible, and many more fittings were conducted to get a fit that would work for every body type.
By the 19th century, London’s West-End was bustling as the centre of bespoke tailoring (becoming what we now know to be Saville Rowe) with numerous other tailors through Europe and all over the world starting to share their techniques and being the forefathers of what we now see in Italian, Japanese and French tailoring. With advancements in technology and the advent of the sewing machine, tailors were able to streamline the tailoring process, reduce the number of fittings and gain an accuracy like no other. In this time, mass-produced garments and the rise of the ready to wear and made to measure suits grew, due to their cost-effective and time-efficient techniques.
In the last ten years, true bespoke tailoring has seen a resurgence in popularity. There is a big distinction between a bespoke and made to measure suit, though lots of made to measure tailors today muddy these waters and will guise under the umbrella of bespoke. The first and biggest difference is the patterns. Once your measurements are taken, a bespoke tailor and their master pattern maker take up to a day to develop your patterns from scratch. This instantly draws close attention to the person’s body type, addressing any issues before the garment is even sewn. From there a bespoke tailor will hand stitch the garments with meticulous care and precision to deliver the best result.
A made to measure tailor on the other hand will measure their clients and then take commercial, pre-existing patterns and adjust these patterns as best they can. This alone will not take into account any issues the client’s body may possess and if their body is so particular, the process of fitting the garment becomes difficult, with most issues never being properly resolved with the finished product. Garments are often sent overseas to south-east Asia and get sewn in factories, much like an off the rack suit. The overall quality, craftsmanship and fit are never going to compete with a true bespoke garment, leaving a lot of clients dissatisfied.
The mark of a true bespoke suit is of pure quality. Once your first suit is fitted to perfection, your patterns will then be vaulted away for you to use for your next suit, making the bespoke process as efficient as a made to measure garments, but with an old-world quality and craftsmanship.