These are the points that are important to us:
1. If you’re told it’s “Bespoke”, make sure it is. Ask the person your speaking with if he is the actual cutter.
Will he cut you a personal pattern? Any company or individual should have a pile of individual patterns adorned with names of his clients. Be very wary here, there are some good CMT houses (cut, make & trim) who merely receive your details and then effectively make you a ready-to-wear suit- using a standard template, not an individual pattern- that’s been slightly adjusted.
Yes, it’ll be a great suit, but it’s not “Bespoke”. Remember, a BMW is a great car, but it’ll never be a hand-built Aston Martin.
With a proper Bespoke Tailor, he’ll make you a set of patterns which will belong to you and nobody else but you. And he’ll hold on to them for next time, for years or even decades.
Cutting is an art. We’re like painters, novelists or film directors. Some you like, some you don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad. Our job is to fit and flatter your body, and just as importantly, your mind.
Although we have our style of cut, you’ve got to feel your own individuality being expressed, or it simply won’t work. If you already find this with your current cutter, for goodness sake, hold on to him for dear life, don’t come to us.
2. But the cutter is only part of the equation. At this point we involve this next rare (& getting rarer) breed, the tailor, who actually sews the garments by hand. Obviously only using the highest quality cloth & trimmings (linings, buttons,etc) available.
Although tailors are very few and far between, you may find an old tailor who cuts & makes all his garments, but you’d be lucky, it’s just not commercially viable any more.
So now we’ve more to consider. We have a number of superb tailors, ranging from 28 to 78 yrs old. As you’d expect, they contribute hugely to the outcome of a garment. They’re individuals, they express themselves in their work.
Some make a slightly firmer coat, with more stitches per inch and a little less fullness, thus creating a slightly sharper image. Another might add lots of fullness, with easier stitching, to produce a more relaxed, draped style.
Again, the cutter has to decide who’s best for you, and as importantly, keep it that way. In some of the bigger houses your suit can get handed out to different tailors every time you order, and believe us here, you’ll notice.
3. Make sure it’s hand-made. Yes, I know we use sewing machines for parts of the garment, but that should be where it ends.
Make sure your coat has a “floating” canvas, this you should be able to feel, floating between the facing & forepart. If you can’t feel it, ask to be shown it at the fitting. A hand canvassed coat must be expected at this level. I point this out, as the far-inferior alternative is a “fused” canvas, which effectively glues the innards of your coat together.
The fused canvas looks impressive when it’s new, but it’ll subtract years off the garment’s life in the long run. Oh, and wait until you’ve had a few trips to the dry cleaners, or a bit of singing in the rain, and it becomes unstuck, yuk.
Look out for the obvious: hand-sewn buttonholes, hand-sewn edges, and make sure the buttons are made of animal horn, not plastic.
4. Don’t be convinced by the narcotic effect of labels, they mean nothing. Have your eyes and senses tuned. Don’t trust the glossy magazines for your info, they are writers, not cutters or coat makers. Their world is about PR, not about the actual stitching.
No journalist ever had to spend seven years as a proper tailor’s apprentice. Their agendas are different from yours.
Remember, all business is personal…. especially in tailoring.
(This post has been ‘re-posted’ – Originally written in January 2005)
Photo above of Mr Ravi Tailor, our dear friend and associate: www.aj-hewitt.com