I was asked by RayK to define the term "bespoke" as part of a question regarding Mariano Rubinacci. It so happens that in my limited time visiting this board and askandy, I have seen the term "bespoke" used to describe just about any kind of garment making that involves taking a measurement. And yet bespoke has a very precise meaning. I have also noticed, and this is common because marketers purposely misuse terms to try and dupe potential clients, that bespoke, and MTM are used almost as synonyms. I would like to use the process of making a "bespoke" shirt as a way to describe what is "bespoke" and what is "besmoke." My shirtmaker starts by taking my measurements. Okay so far so good, everyone takes measurements. He may ask to see me wearing another bespoke shirt as well on my first visit to see if there are any obvious problems. From the measurements, he will draw and cut a first pattern of my shirt. Here we enter into the crux of the matter. He does not use a generic pattern and then do alterations (MTM). He draws and cuts a custom pattern. From the first draft pattern, he will cut a trial shirt in muslin and there will be a first fitting. Any errors or changes are noted and fixed on the spot with a little cutting and sewing. Then, a few days or weeks later, a second trial shirt in muslin will be made and fitted. Then the shirtmaker will take that second trial shirt perfected from two fittings and recut a new and final version of the pattern. From this pattern, he will cut and make the first shirt. If there are changes after fitting the first shirt, then once again, he will go back to the pattern and make them but this is relatively rare at this stage. Now if the shirtmaker is a pro, the shirt will be entirely handsewn, including the armholes and sleevehead. The buttonholes will be handsewn. And the best buttons available on the market will be used. The process of making a bespoke shirt is long. The shirtmaker works for many many hours before cutting the first shirt. The materials used should be first rate. The construction is 100% handsewn. Of course the cost for such a product can be high. If you have not gone through the above process to have your shirt made, then you do not have a "bespoke" shirt on your back. You may very well have a beautiful shirt on your back, but it is not a "bespoke" shirt. It is a MTM shirt, of which there are two varieties, but more on that later. The cost of a bespoke shirt is high, normally 200 to 450 euros. But if you keep extra material for new collars and cuffs, then your shirt will last indefintely. Some of mine are now twenty-five years old and still look great. So, in the long run, these shirts are not as expensive as they seem. I have used "bespoke" shirts as an example of what true handcraftsmanship is. The same process will hold true if you are making suits, overcoats, pyjamas or boxer shorts. (Fitting my boxer shorts was especially fun as my seamstress is quite pretty, but that is a different story.) You see, the sartorial arts are not as mysterious as they seem to be or as serious. This is a consumer alert as well. If you are going to pay "bespoke" prices then please be kind enough to demand "bespoke" services. One of the key reasons for the decline in the number of fine tailors is the lack of demanding clients. The more you know, the more you expect, the more you take control of the process, then the better the final product will be for you and your maker. And the more pressure you put on for excellence, the more the artisans will have to perfect their skills..and everyone benefits from this. In the future, a suggestion would be to try and use the word "bespoke" only when referring to the above process so we can all be talking about the same thing and not a mish mash. If you have a MTM or RTW, there is no shame. Some are very good. But if everything is "bespoke" then the word starts to lose it meaning and communication becomes difficult at best. If you are using a MTM provider there are ways for you to get the most from your experience and that maybe should be the subject of another post. But don't let your ego or the marketing kings dupe you into thinking that your MTM is bespoke. And if someone has charged you bespoke prices for MTM, then be hopping mad and get your money back. Cheers I hope this helps.
post #1 of 11
2/6/04 at 1:50pm