Crompton does Camps:
This article is likely to trigger passionate debate, since it features Simon wearing a trial jacket, commonly used by Camps but vehemently disputed by tenants of the non-standardized pattern school of bespoke tailoring. The argument for is quite compelling: as mentioned in the article, it allows the tailor to get the jacket to fit just right from the start, reducing any risk of error. The argument against is also quite compelling: if you're going to pay bespoke prices, you kind of expect a pattern that is unique to your body, not a measuring process that involves a standardized form to which alterations are made, which can be too reminiscent of a made-to-measure process.
I like the fact that Simon's article doesn't come down on any side of this debate: I guess at the end of the day it's about what works for each tailor. In my case, the Camps process yielded one of the best fitting suits I've ever owned, and I only judge the final results -- I'm not too sentimental about how much labor is involved. I've always stated that I prefer something that is machine made that fits well to something that is handmade and ill-fitting. At the end of the day, how many bespoke customers are aware that there is often tiny fusing at certain very specific (impossible to detect) locations in many bespoke suits, such as the superior part of the notch lapel, to prevent deformation at the seam as the fabric slightly stretches through pressing and wear. I know it's shocking, but I have this information on very good authority from a bespoke tailor who will remain nameless. In other words, depending on the fabric, often bespoke tailors cannot prevent deformation from happening there without putting a tiny bit of fusing. So I ask, what is better? To have a fusing-free garment that may develop some slight collar deformation over time, or to have a bit of fusing that no one would even know about if I didn't mention it here, making the garment look crisp for its entire life? Of course, our Neapolitan friends have found the best possible out: get customers to accept that the best style is an imperfect style, in this way any tailoring approximations can be chalked up to the fact that it's the 'house style'. It works great to obfuscate most iGents -- until the day you wake-up and realize how many extra hours work must go in to making a suit that his spot perfect. I'm not saying the Neapolitans have found the perfect excuse for some of their tailoring laziness and shortcuts, but I'm kind of thinking it very loud. I know that the French bespoke tailors would back me up on this one.
Now, having said all this, I was recently disappointed that Camps is no longer willing to accomodate necessary jacket alterations due to my weight-loss, which I feel could be expected from a bespoke tailoring house. I'm well aware that my weight-loss is a real headache for most of my tailors, but at the end of the day, customer service is a big part of the equation. Lorenzo Cifonelli has cleverly stepped in to save the day, thus seizing the opportunity to score some points over the competition: upon hearing of my tailoring woe, he instantly offered to make the necessary alterations to my Camps suit. Massimo did that as well for me many years ago on my first Italian bespoke suit, which had a glitch that he instantly spotted, and which I hadn't even noticed. He just said: "leave it with us, we'll fix it for you." I've got to hand it to those guys, they really know how to pull all the right moves to win over the hearts and minds of customers. When you experience customer service like that, it's no surprise that they ended up having the biggest bespoke operation in Paris. You can sense that they're going to go all out for every customer, to win everybody over.Edited by dirnelli - 4/30/14 at 11:27pm