Before designers, big brand names, warehouse stores and suit brokers dominated the land scape, well dressed men of all stature, flocked to old world tailors who constructed custom suits cut for each individual person. As time went by and the advent of mass production became the norm, finding these master craftsmen became harder and harder. Today a large amount of Americans still wear suits, though most are ready made and available at a bevy of retailers ranging in cost from “budget” to “obscene”. Americans have generally shied away from custom suits because of a misconception of exorbitant costs and pretentiousness. Especially during tough economic times, custom suits have become more a symbol of excess rather than value. While ready made suits continue to dominate the market place and full fill the need for instant gratification, more and more consumers are beginning to see the value that custom suits, with their perfect fit and high end craftsmanship, deliver.
Today most suit retailers, as well a number of specialty companies offer a custom suit program which, like their off the rack counter part, ranges from “budget” (Online Hong Kong Tailors can charge as low as $300 a suit) to “Obscene” (Kitons K-50 suits sell for as much as 40K!). The problem arises in the fact that most Americans have a loose definition as to what constitutes a “budget” custom suit vs an “obscene” custom suit. In fact if you do a quick search on the internet you will find companies using terms like bespoke, custom suits, master tailor, made to measure etc. to describe their clothing, all at staggeringly differing price points. This just adds to the confusion. custom suits nj
What is the difference between the $300 dollar custom suit and the $40,000 one? If only the answer was so simple. In European locales such as the UK and France the terms “custom suit” and “bespoke” are protected by law. Companies must adhere to strict advertising standards to use these terms in conjunction with their goods and services. The same does not apply to the US though, as all the terms surrounding custom suits have become murky and interchangeable. Understanding these terms is an important part of getting the best value for your clothing dollar. Bottom line is… understanding these terms will help you get the best of what you are paying for.
Bespoke is the highest level of custom suits. This process remains unchanged for over a hundred years and is the truest form of old world custom tailoring. Today it is only available through master tailors and will usually cost around $5,000 on up (as high as 40K).
Ways to tell if you are truly getting a bespoke suit:
- Measurements are taken by the Master Tailor or his pattern maker, personally
- Patterns are drawn and cut by hand on muslin for each individual client
- The garment is fitted using a baste garment. A basted garment, is a garment made with loose stitching so that it can be modified easily. Usually the baste fitting garment is made from a cheap fabric so that errors and corrections can be made with out ruining the clients selected fabric.