As I am not a tailor, my meager knowledge comes from close inspection of the suits and many hours of discussions with tailors of each house. Â However, a basic knowledge in tailoring would be helpful, not to mention studies in textile (which is currently where my main interests lie) --- for example, look at how many different cashmere Kiton offers, even in the summer. Â These two areas are generally quite easily accessible in printed media (books, journals, specialized periodicals and magazines). Your short list includes many, though you are forgetting some. Â How about Oxxford, Battistoni (d'Avenza), Sartoria Castangia, and Luciano Barbera? --- (grinning) and I am sure Thracozaag can summon a few more houses of distinct style. Â Firstly, I do not have a regular Zegna suit, neither am I planning to get one in the near future, thus I cannot comment on that. Â As your list includes houses that contribute a large amount of handiwork into their products, I will abstain from commenting on Zegna for their mass machine production (same for Corneliani), with the exception of Saint Andrews. ~~~ ISAIA: Isaia chiefly uses fabrics from Italian mills (the names of which eluded me at this moment, but I can find out for you later), either for their ready-made or custom-made. Â A Gianluca Isaia shoulder pad includes: (from bottom to top) a layer of linen, cotton felt and a small piece of linen for basic insulation, then another linen-cottonfelt-linen, topped with one last piece of linen. Â Apparently more padding than Kiton, but the cotton felt pieces are very thin. Â This pad is about half-inch wider than the suit fabric, and the arm is attached to that half-inch. Â (I hope you could visualize from my poor English writing. Â In another words, if you rip off the sleeve, half-inch of the shoulder pad will be showing.) Â This is very important as some other shoulders are made differently. Â This half-inch makes for a straighter drop from the shoulder to your elbow, but will create a slight bulge half-inch from the arm-hole seam. Â Different house controls this half-inch differently (some more, some less). Â The sleeves are "˜attached' instead of "˜tucked in' (as in Attolini's). The recent Gianluca Isaia suits feature high gorge, where the V points almost towards the shoulder. The main difference between Enrico and Gianluca is in the fabric and the waist band of the pants. Â The Enrico line deals with more exclusive fabrics, and the waist band is handset. Â The Gianluca line has less hand work in the waist band, though Isaia insists that it would not make any difference. Â Well, only time will tell. From a marketing standpoint, Enrico Isaia did offer a higher level of hand work. Â However, now they did away with the Enrico label and increase the level of the Gianluca line. Â Also, Gianluca is the grandson of the founder, and he does personal fittings worldwide, chiefly designing many of the models you are wearing now; thus for the time being we are seeing the Gianluca label everywhere. ~~~ Before I go on with the huge list, please bare in mind that no one in actuality does 100% hand work on a suit. Â Certain seams are bound to be done by machines (like the side seam of the pants, where it HAS to be straight). Â A "13 hour" jacket and a "22 hour" jacket differs chiefly in the fabric --- actually, EVERYTHING comes down to the fabric. Â Certain fabrics are so fragile that time is needed to "˜rest' before you can sew on it again. Â Mild steam is used while the unfinished suit fabric is hung, and then it is left for hours. Â Kiton and Attolini (two names that are popularly known but by no means exclusively) do the most hand work on their suits. Â In recent years, eBay sellers have also confused us in many ways. Â For example, sellers always say that "This is completely handmade ..." or "hand-sewn buttonholes" or "high armhole", and so on, while he actually has no idea what he is talking about. Â How many hand-sewn buttonholes can you find in the ready-made world? Â Rare, though for $3000's worth of clothing you'd love to think that they are all hand-sewn, and of course all the salespersons from Bergdorf to eBay will want you to think that. Â EBay auctions get more readers than New York Times, and sellers seem to "˜borrow' each other's writings freely. Â On a rare occasion recently I bid on a pair of Brioni pants (it was only $55.). Â However, they were flat front and the seller described it as pleated http://home.nyc.rr.com/hinleung/BrioniCord2.jpg
. Â I later sent the seller a picture of this and a real pleat, and he still insisted that he was right and refused a refund. Â In my humble opinion, avoid paying too much attention at words like "hand-crafted", "hand-tailored" and any superlatives in an auction's description, though that doesn't mean sellers should not use them, as I agree, they are powerful words, and in many cases, true (like describing Turnbull as "˜one of the best shirtmakers'). Â However, if you are not sure about a maker (hey, no one knows everything), make a trip to your local department store and try on to know what you are looking for before making an auction purchase; because, excuse my English, could anyone define what "hand-tailored" means? Â ~~~ Will write more later. Â Hope to hear other's contributions too.