In June 2008, tailors on the Savile Row lost a legal battle over their right to use the word bespoke to refer exclusively to suits that had been made by hand. The Advertising Standards Authority ruling meant that mass market retailers could sell machine made suits at a fraction of the cost. With the blurring of the boundaries a definitive definition is elusive, here are the facts.

The majority of men buy off the peg suits. An off the peg suit is cut off a block (a standard pattern typically categorised by a chest measurement e.g. 38). Off the peg suits are cheap because they can be easily manufactured in large numbers. Similarly off the peg shirts are also cut off a block but this time they are categorised by a neck measurement. Its amazing when you think about it, just think how people vary in size from the neck down!

Made-to-measure suits are the halfway house between off the peg and bespoke. Like off the peg, made-to-measure suits are also cut off a block but in this case the block can be adjusted to fit the client. The fact the made-to-measure suit is made individually means that the client can also choose the fabric, and style of the suit enabling as much personalisation as one might expect in a bespoke suit. Made-to-measure is becoming increasingly popular as advances in laser cutting technology and manufacturing capabilities enables exceptional accuracy and better value. Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd make predominantly made-to-measure suits although we can make bespoke suits on request. We feel very strongly about maintaining this differentiation despite the fact that many of our competitors would refer to their made-to-measure suits as bespoke.

A fully bespoke suit is usually the most expensive option out of the three. Body measurements are taken from the client before the pattern is cut by hand. Sometimes a block pattern is used but more often than not this is done using the skills of the cutter (I remember watching one of our tailors chalking out calculations on the cloth during the creation of his geometric masterpiece). With a fully bespoke suit a baste will be created for the first fitting (this would be unusual in a made-to-measure suit). The baste is a your final suit but only loosely stitched allowing for quite dramatic adjustments to be carried out before the suit is finally stitched by hand (See photo). There are normally 3 or 4 fittings and over 80 hours of hand stitching before you can finally walk away with your suit.

For more information please contact David Brooke, from Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd.

M&BTis quickly becoming known as London’s most contemporary Bespoke Visiting Tailor. Uniquely they combine psychology and tailoring delivery a unique tailorings experience.It’s not just a suit.
For more information please visit: Made-to-measure suits

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