May 07 2018
Custom vs Bespoke
It’s shouldn’t be hard to believe that only about 200 years ago all garments where individually hand crafted for each and every man. Meaning that there was a time where all suits were classified as Bespoke, whereas today the majority of men purchase ready-to-wear or made-to-measure suits that have been produced in factories. Not to say that one is better than the other, but it is essential for one to fully understand the difference between the productions of these suits. This will ensure that you are not be misled into purchasing a one that has been mislabelled. This is especially important when you’re paying premium prices for your made-to-measure or Bespoke Suit. In this article, I will help to identify the main differences between these types of menswear and explain why knowing this will put you ahead of the game for purchasing your custom suit.
Suits today can be sorted into three major categories.
Off the Rack (Ready to Wear)
First off let me quickly start with the most common and most affordable of the three types of suits. Generally, “off the rack” suits are designed to fit a larger range of body figures and sizes so these garments tend to be a looser fit to accommodate as many different sized bodies as possible. Off the rack suits are cut on a general pattern that aren’t specific to your body. This will mean that after you purchase your new suit you will need to adjust everything in order to fit well.
The key difference between OTR suits and MTM is the limitation in choice of fabric, quality, and overall construction. You also can’t expect an off the rack suit to beat a customized or well-tailored suit in terms of function, fabric, fit and customization options due to mass production. But this mass production makes these suits a lot more affordable for consumers and makes for a great option for those last minute shoppers.
Made to Measure
Alright, so you’re interested in upping your suit game. Made to measure brings your suiting options to a whole new level. Now, made to measure suits are still produced with the use of pre-cut patterns but these patterns are adjusted and specifically measured to your body before the complete construction of the suit. Here you are given more control and more options with MTM suits. For example, by choosing to purchase a MTM suit, you will be given a wider selection of quality, fabric and fit.
Made to measure suits work a lot differently than ready to wear, where fittings come into play. First off, there will be an initial fitting to determine measurements. These measurements are then turned into a draft design. Lastly a final fitting is done after the suit has been put together. Depending on the accuracy of the measurements in the first fitting alterations may need to be made to make sure the fit is perfect. This process will take more time than OTR suits but it is completely worth it in the end. You can expect to spend roughly $300-$800 for a made to measure suit which runs more affordable than Bespoke suits.
If you’re looking for the ultimate suiting experience, Bespoke is the way to go. Everything in bespoke suiting is done from scratch and carefully handmade. With deciding to buy a bespoke suit, you are given full control on the creation of the suit. It’s an artwork crafted between you and your tailor there are no limits of option regardless of the complexity you may be looking for. A brand new pattern is created for each wearer therefor there cannot be any use of base patterns in the process. Tailors that create these suits use more than just basic measurements to achieve well-made suits. Everything from posture, slope of one’s shoulder, arc of the back etc. is taken into consideration when customizing a suit. After the first fitting, this pattern is saved and will act as a guide for all future suits. As the customer, you have total control on the detailing, fabric, fit, details, and colours with the help of your tailor which will give specific suggestions to help build the perfect bespoke suit for you. There is endless options in customizing a bespoke suit so you can go as out of the box, or as traditional as you would like.
Achieving a superior bespoke suit requires multiple fittings before, during and after its creation. Usually a minimum of 5 mid fittings are required during different stages of tailoring. All these fittings may sound excessive, but not only does it verify original measurements, it helps to ensure the more precise fit along the way. Very talented tailors build on top of each and every fitting to achieve the ultimate suit curated for you.
The price you would have to pay for a bespoke suit can run anywhere from 3 to 6 times more than an off the rack. But aside from having a superior fitting suit, the experience of having one carefully crafted to your standards is something that is special and worth every dollar. Bespoke suits really help to put your personality forward and will be part of your suit collection for many years.
In conclusion, the craft of making clothes by hand is declining this could be due to the availability of OTR clothing and the quality from MTM suits. Weighing in, the cost of a bespoke suit is significantly more than anything you could pick up at the mall. And with that being said, spending more does not ensure the quality and fit of your suit. One must put time into choosing a tailor who is actually qualified to create such bespoke or MTM suits. However bespoke tailoring provides you with the chance to own something that is truly unique and timeless.