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Custom vs. ready-to-wear

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I recently had my first foray into MTM clothing. Admittedly, this was in southeast Asia, so I would not presume my experience is necessarily true of all custom clothing.

Having commissioned shirts and sports jackets at some of the more reputable tailors, I was surprised to find at the first fitting that the clothes were often far too big for me. I understand that several fittings are often required even at quality bespoke tailors, but my experience was akin to buying an off-the-rack shirt/jacket and just having it altered to fit.

Those with experience may be able to confirm that this is not found in quality MTM/bespoke garment making.

It raised the question, though: is quality custom so superior to quality ready-to-wear clothing altered to fit? Can one achieve acceptable results with the latter?
post #2 of 16

I can certainly speak for myself when I say that custom works for me than ready-to-wear.

post #3 of 16
The purpose of fittings in the bespoke 'process' is to enable adjustments to be made and that is not an issue.

When you have patronised the tailor on future occasions you will find that fittings are very much closer to the end product - unless your body has changed.

There is more to fit than pure measurements, figuration comes to mind and so a bespoke garment should always be better and you are utterly wrong to liken the fitting process to alterations to RTW garments.

MTM is somewhat different in that a standard block is merely being adjusted to give a better fit, some MTM houses really are only just above RTW at some it may be a poor experience.


You do not state which tailor you patronised or even where, but for every decent House there are probably at least 20 crap ones in parts of Asia. Some places do not even have decent tailors at all.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
GBR: I am aware that bespoke garments are considered to be superior to those altered off-the-rack. I'm interested in specifically why this is the case.

As I wrote in my post, I acknowledge that my experience may not have been indicative of all custom clothiers. However, isn't it possible for an off-the-rack garment to fit as well as a bespoke garment does at the first fitting (and if so, what is the difference between subsequent alterations for each garment)?
post #5 of 16
It is possible for OTR to fit as well as MTM or bespoke. It's just that it's less likely. OTR is made for a generic body type: the goal is to get the customer an acceptable fit. MTM or bespoke is made to your measurements: the goal is to get the client a good fit. You may get lucky with an OTR suit line, and find that with alterations the suits in that model fit and look better than any MTM or bespoke you can find and afford. For most people, though, MTM or bespoke will get them a better fit, a better silhouette, and more comfortable garments.

As GBR says, there are a number of bad MTM or bespoke tailors out there. Moreover, MTM or bespoke tailors hardly ever get it right the first time.

There is a big difference between an MTM or bespoke first fitting and altering a finished garment. At a first fitting, the garment is unmade, so lots of big changes can be made. A finished garment can only be altered; a first-fitting fabric can be shaped in all kinds of ways.
post #6 of 16
Please do not confuse Made-to-Measure with custom/bespoke tailoring. They are not the same.

Anything is possible. If you are built like an industry, standard size mannequin or you are a fashion model, certain RTW brands will fit you very well with little alteration. Since people are not mannequins and very few of us are fashion models, RTW will never fit nearly as well as a custom made suit, manufatured by an experienced tailor.

A poor tailor will typically design a poorly fitting custom made suit. A good one will design a customer a suit that possesses superior quality, durabilty, and fit.

MTM typically results in a product more closely resembling that of an already altered RTW suit in fit, but will offer it in a broader range of sizes, styles, and provide for options that may not be available with most retail store brands.

Perfection is ultimately unobtainable, but custom made clothing will always come closest to it since you are getting what you are paying for, and the more you pay, the better the result......ceteris paribus, of course.
post #7 of 16
Think of fit as a scale.

0 = Toga
100 = Perfect Fit

0 - 80 = Off the rack. Many people can achieve 80 with alterations. Most hover around the 70 mark.
50 - 90 = Made to Measure. Poor made to measure can very easily produce a humdrum garment, but good MTM can get damn close to perfection. You can't pick the features or change things like Lapel Width, but it'll get you close.
75 - 100 = Bespoke. Very good bespoke is like a second skin, but that doesn't stop cowboys (Asian tailors in particular) from having a go and making a hash of it.

As you can see from my scale, it is more than possible to get a suit worth 75 points from any one of the channels. One has to buy the best of each channel to buy the better fit.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Think of fit as a scale.
0 = Toga
100 = Perfect Fit
0 - 80 = Off the rack. Many people can achieve 80 with alterations. Most hover around the 70 mark.
50 - 90 = Made to Measure. Poor made to measure can very easily produce a humdrum garment, but good MTM can get damn close to perfection. You can't pick the features or change things like Lapel Width, but it'll get you close.
75 - 100 = Bespoke. Very good bespoke is like a second skin, but that doesn't stop cowboys (Asian tailors in particular) from having a go and making a hash of it.
As you can see from my scale, it is more than possible to get a suit worth 75 points from any one of the channels. One has to buy the best of each channel to buy the better fit.

very good explanation. Though some of the online MTM creations posted on here could be alot closer to toga biggrin.gif
post #9 of 16
I don't think you can make a fast rule about whether MTM or bespoke provides a better fit. It all depends on the specific source. There is a lot of good MTM and bad bespoke. That said, for the pickiest, bespoke is potentially superior.

Also, fitting well does not equate with close-fitting. They say the ideal bespoke jacket would touch you only at the collar and float over your body everywhere else.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

I don't think you can make a fast rule about whether MTM or bespoke provides a better fit.

This thread concerns whether altering ready-to-wear clothing can achieve results similar to those of MTM and bespoke, not the distinctions between the latter two.

Quote:
Also, fitting well does not equate with close-fitting.

How can you make such a sweeping statement? This would depend on personal fit preference.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by calogero View Post

How can you make such a sweeping statement? This would depend on personal fit preference.

No, it wouldn't. That one personally prefers something does not make it correct. Tailoring is not an exception. Inexperienced clients often assume any "excess" cloth means a garment does not fit ideally, when in fact it is often technically required to facilitate movement or aesthetically needed to provide shape.

Anyway, I did not proffer that a well-fitting garment is one way or another, simply that it is not merely that which fits closely.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

That one personally prefers something does not make it correct. Tailoring is not an exception.

How delightfully dogmatic of you.

Tell me: where is the objective, scientific evidence to substantiate your claim?

Collective 'wisdom' is nothing but a set of opinions.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

I don't think you can make a fast rule about whether MTM or bespoke provides a better fit. It all depends on the specific source. There is a lot of good MTM and bad bespoke. That said, for the pickiest, bespoke is potentially superior.
Also, fitting well does not equate with close-fitting. They say the ideal bespoke jacket would touch you only at the collar and float over your body everywhere else.

Is it just me, or does anyone else like to feel their jacket around their chest and body?
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

Think of fit as a scale.
0 = Toga
100 = Perfect Fit
0 - 80 = Off the rack. Many people can achieve 80 with alterations. Most hover around the 70 mark.
50 - 90 = Made to Measure. Poor made to measure can very easily produce a humdrum garment, but good MTM can get damn close to perfection. You can't pick the features or change things like Lapel Width, but it'll get you close.
75 - 100 = Bespoke. Very good bespoke is like a second skin, but that doesn't stop cowboys (Asian tailors in particular) from having a go and making a hash of it.
As you can see from my scale, it is more than possible to get a suit worth 75 points from any one of the channels. One has to buy the best of each channel to buy the better fit.

Sartoria partenopea OTR, without any kind of alterations, is a 90+ for me.
post #15 of 16
Fit is King (as they say), and you can get MTM or even RTW (if you are lucky and an easy fit) to be a 90%+ fit. Bespoke will obviously give you the best chance at the best fit, but will depend on the skill of the tailor.

As far as quality, You can get great "handmade" suits, RTW, MTM and bespoke. The Kitons, Attolinis, Oxxfords, etc. will be as well made as any MTM and most bespoke. Or course you can get lesser quality at all levels as well.

In the end, you need to know who is making your suit, whether RTW, MTM or bespoke and not just assume that a bespoke suit will be a great fit and great quality, nor should you assume a RTW suit will be poor quality and poor fit. I happen to be an easy fit and have decided the value of RTW and MTM is greater than spending the $$ on bespoke. If you are not "standard", MTM and bespoke will likely be a better value for you.
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