The term “bespoke“ is derived from the verb “bespeak”, to speak of something, or “to give order for it to be made”. The term bespoke or customised in men’s fashion is reserved for individually patterned and crafted men’s clothing in contrast with mass-manufactured ready-to-wear. Bespoke tailoring is traditionally cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer, and so differs from ready-to-wear, which is factory made in finished condition and standardized sizes, and from made to measure, which is produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. Bespoke tailoring is always better than readymade.
Bespoke tailoring as we know it today is the accumulation of many centuries of dedication to the craft of sewing, stitching, cutting and imitating the human forms in fabrics. Bespoke tailoring developed slowly but steadily throughout Europe between the 12th and 14th century. Before the birth of tailoring, clothes were purely seen as functional objects, to cover the body and protect it from the elements. Medieval uniforms, which had typically been made from a single cloth, became “tailored” once this technique came into existence at that time. So this resulted in tighter garments and shorter in length to show off the contours of the human body. Tailored changed the way people perceived clothes, they were no longer viewed merely as ‘practical necessity’ but as a form of expression and objects of desire. Tailoring skills became increasingly sought after and created the market of tailoring as we know it today. It was also the beginning of what we now refer to as Fashion.
The word “tailor” dated back to 1297, originating from the Old French word taillour, or “cutter”.
Prior to the sewing machine technology that emerged in the 1830’s, all garments were custom made; making tailors a very necessary part of the community.
EVOLUTION OF BESPOKE TAILORING
London is the epicenter for men’s suits. Known as the “golden mile of tailoring” where men travel from near and far to be fitted for bespoke tailored suits, one has to go back to its rich historical beginnings to truly understand the significance of Savile Row not only on British culture but its global impact on men’s fashion. Tailors started opening up shops on the Row in 1803. In 1806 James Poole opened Henry Poole & Co. On Savile Row and is known today as the founder of Savile Row. His son, Henry Poole, inherited the business in 1846 and in 1860 made a short smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales. This quickly became the fashion for the aristocracy at men’s private clubs. Once it spread to America, the name eventually evolved into the “tuxedo”. Clients included HIM Emperor Napolean, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Prussia, King Amadeus of Spain, and Tsar Alexander III of Russia.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BESPOKE AND MADE-TO-MEASURE
The Made to Measure suit is like Ready to wear suits, but with the benefit of an altered fit. You visit the store, but instead of taking a suit of your choice away that day, the salesman takes a few measurements and choices in cloth and style, they are sent to a factory and the result after a few weeks’ wait is a suit cut to your personal dimensions. The chest, waist, sleeve length, trouser length and trouser waist are all yours.
Bespoke, as regular readers will know, involves creating a suit from the ground up. It can take any form, any shape, any material, and is usually handmade by two or three tailors.
The process begins with an initial discussion as to your needs (what type of suit you are after, your ideas on the style and cloth if any, and the ways and occasions you may have to wear it).
The tailor then takes your measurements – a seemingly endless number, with detailed notes that take into account aspects of posture and body shape that only a trained eye could notice.
A set of bespoke paper patterns is then drawn and cut, with the cutter using his measurements and notes as a guide.
The cloth you’ve chosen is then cut using these patterns, and over the course of several fittings the fit is refined to the final product.
SUIT CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES
Full Canvassed Jackets
Traditionally, men’s suits were constructed with a layer of horsehair canvas underneath the wool fabric shell. This canvas holds the shape of the suit and keeps it from sagging or deforming, much like the foundation of a house keeps it upright. The canvas is cut to the jacket’s shape, and then the wool is stitched to the canvas. Over time, as you wear the jacket, the canvas conforms to your body’s shape, creating an excellent fit.
The canvas lining allows the suit fabric to drape naturally, allowing a clean, well put-together look. It takes years of training and additional hours of handwork for a tailor to be able to craft this the correct way.
Half Canvassed Jackets
Between the two extremes (fused and full canvas) lies a compromise – the half-canvassed jacket. Half-canvassed jackets have canvas material running only through the chest and lapels of the coat. Past that point, the jacket is fused.
Half-canvassed jackets have several benefits. First, they generally have a lower price than a similar fully canvassed jacket. Less handcraft means a lower overall cost to you. And because the top half of the jacket is not fused you’ll not run into any bubbling problems as you might in a fused jacket. This adds to the lifespan of the garment. Finally, the canvassing provides the proper base for the jacket to drape naturally across your chest, rather than appearing stiff and lifeless as many fused jackets do.
Modern Day Evolutions
The most significant change to tailor-made garments has been in the fabric weight as well as necessary design and structure implements, such as linings and paddings.
DIWAN BROS is an established brand with eminent business name readily affianced in manufacturing, retailing and trading of customised menswear garments. Established in the year 1951, we are known for our hard work and sophisticated design across Delhi and NCR.
There can be as many as 9 people involved in creating a bespoke suit, and often a customer will only meet the Cutter, the person who measures them and cuts the cloth. Once cut, it gets bundled up with trimmings and linings and sent off to one of the workshops for further work. We try to satisfy our customer not just when he is with us, but also even after the delivery is done. A complete bespoke suit is not just made; it is made to be felt by the customer.