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The continual transformation of menswear in recent years, particularly men’s suits, has been driven by a combination of enthusiasts, innovative fashion companies and internet communication. This has meant that whether we’re looking to buy a single suit or an entire wardrobe, we’ve never had so many options to choose from.
Unfortunately, brands and their marketing often obscure that choice — particularly when it comes to differentiating between bespoke and ready-to-wear (RTW) suiting. This difference is neither incidental nor arbitrary. It is vital to the consideration that goes into buying a new suit, and can be tightly defined.
The biggest benefit of ready to wear is arguable its immediacy — each RTW suit is pre-made to a generic size and specification. So if you’re happy with the size and style, you can purchase a suit that fits off the rack and take it home that day. There’s no need to wait, no need for multiple fittings over several weeks, and no need to imagine what the suit might look like.
That said, its biggest drawback is the garment’s pre-defined fit. Despite these benefits and the advancement in quality, detail and construction, most men run into the inevitable issue of fit. Even a basic list of measurements such as chest, shoulder, sleeve length, waist (for both jacket and trousers) and trouser length, illustrates that few men are likely to possess the dimensions to fit a RTW suit size exactly. So, while a suit may fit well in some areas, it may be too long, short, loose or tight in others.
There are also little to no personal touches. Another drawback of RTW is that the suit isn’t imagined for you, so if a store doesn’t have the colour, cut or fabric you’re looking for, you’ll need to look elsewhere. This won’t be an issue for some — indeed many like having the shape and cut led by an experienced designer — but those interested in fashion will over time want to start making their own sartorial choices around cloth, cut and finishing. And therein lies the advantage of bespoke creations.
Bespoke, as regular readers will know, involves creating a suit from scratch. It can take any form, any shape, any material, and is usually handmade by one experienced couturier. The process begins with an initial discussion as to your needs (the type of suit you’re after, your ideas on the style and cloth, and the ways and occasions you may have to wear it).
The tailor then takes your measurements, with detailed notes that consider aspects of posture and body shape that only a trained eye could notice.
One of the biggest benefits of bespoke is its delivery of individualistic fit. Bespoke suits should fit like nothing else. It should hug your shoulders, create a clean back, and run in a sharp, flattering line from shoulder to waist. It will also often be far more comfortable.
These suits tend to last a lifetime. The effort and time that goes into everything from the lining of the waistband to the stitching of the pockets means the suit should last longer than anything mass produced.
Finally, the suit is of your making. Bespoke offers the chance to develop a truly novel garment, not just in shape but in material, detail and finishing.
The best part about bespoke suits is that it is alterable as per your novel sartorial needs and imagination. It truly gives you an unequivocal chance to channel and flaunt your individuality.
And isn’t that something worth waiting for?
The writer is brand manager at Ascots and Chapels
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