THE "B" Word
A Common Branding Lure.
Bespoke derives from the verb Bespeak (to speak for). The word itself dates back to 1583
and is defined as goods, especially clothing made to order.
During the 1700s tailors would keep their materials on their premises and when customers
would specifically ask for a fabric it was considered "spoken for" , hence bespoken for.
The term "bespoke" as applied to suit making is understood to have originated on Savile Row,
in the 1800s. After the Industrial Revolution "bespoke" became a description for specially
commissioned products vs. mass-produced, ready-made products.
Until recently, very few knew about bespoke unless you were ultra wealthy.
It used to be an underground market but since so many brands use the term
interchangeably with Custom or Made-To-Measure
(Su Misura) the term "bespoke" has become more mainstream. Even though "bespoke" is an
over used word present day, the true meaning of bespoke remain a rare one-of-one offering.
It is not for everyone but rather for those who appreciate the very highest of quality and
willing to go through great lengths to acquire what they desire.
To better understand bespoke as it relates to suit making,
we must first understand there are different methods of suit manufacturing.
Standard size garments are often referred as Off-The-rack.
This type of clothing is mainly offered in retail stores.
Off-The-Rack garments are mass-produced which is the most popular and efficient
manufacturing method used by most clothing brands today.
The next level of garment making is Made to Measure.
This method is considered the most common among custom tailored garments
as it is made affordable to a broader audience.
These types of custom garments are created with a pre-existing block pattern.
Any fit adjustments are made after the garment is finished.
This limits the ability to achieve a superior fit since the pattern is already finalized.
Essentially MTM is a scaled down version of bespoke.
Bespoke refers to clothing made from an original pattern with a series of fittings.
The bespoke method places a heavy focus on the pattern making process by
which a suit is created.
Bespoke Suits are never offered online hence it is a service not a point of sale purchase.
You should expect at least 3 fittings at a minimum.
Across the industry, delivery time is approximately 6 - 8 weeks but can take up to 3 months.
During your first fitting fabrics and style options are discussed.
Your tailor will record at least 30 different measurements as well as note your posture
variables in order to start drafting an original pattern.
During your second fitting, a full basted try-on will be created to test the pattern
Note: This is not a finished suit - it should be an unfinished suit in it's skeleton-stage.
This is probably the most important aspect of the bespoke suit making process.
It is during this stage pattern adjustments will be made to the pattern to accommodate
the proper fit and drape. This advance level of pattern-making is what distinguishes
bespoke from made to measure. Bespoke is about placing layer upon layers of pattern
adjustments to achieve a fit that is superior to any other form of garment making as with
The pattern is tested at the basted stage as many times as needed prior to finishing a
bespoke suit vs. tailoring a finished suit after-the fact. There are so many aspects of what can
and can not be altered without compromising the integrity of a finished suit
- but that is beyond the scope of this article.
Expect to spend anywhere between $2,000 - $5,000 for a bespoke suit.
Prices can easily exceed $10,000 depending on the fabric.
For further reference Google - Average Bespoke Suit Price.