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When you should go bespoke - Page 3

post #31 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by archetypal_yuppie View Post

Since most people probably do not fall into the particularly "hard to fit" category, the key criteria is 1) when one has tons of excess cash and 2) enough vanity.

It depends. For someone who doesn't wear "formal" clothes often, but enjoys clothes nonetheless, you can get away with a couple suits and a few sport coats/pants. While I agree you need to be some stage of well-off, many here see clothing as a hobby and take enjoyment from the process of learning, seeking and experimenting. While there are some that order bespoke as a matter of course, they are likely not interested in clothes on our level: Rather, that is just simply how they've always lived, only wearing custom clothes because that's all they know.

Like anything else, if you plan on expenditures and map your resources (income, time, etc) around them, you should be able to enjoy bespoke clothing without eating Ramen every night. That said, if you ever find yourself questioning if you have enough, you don't.

In terms of vanity: it's not that I'm vain, it's just that I'm better than everyone else.
post #32 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

As some of you may know I have been in bespoke and OTR tailoring for about 10 years. While discussing the motivation for commissions we came up with a list that we believe roughly answers the question "should I be bespoke" that is so often asked of us (and asked online). Feel free to disagree with any of the points, expand, repudiate or request that I be lynched, as you see fit.

Reasons to go bespoke

Hard to fit off the rack
This is probably the most obvious reason to go bespoke. Some people simply have a shape that lies outside of the middle ground that manufacturers cater to. Maybe years of hard labour has left you with a stoop, with shoulders rolling a long way forwards and a spine that is shaped like a question mark.

More likely your prominent shoulderblades and fondness for cake has left you sticking out at the back and front, but in different directions. Maybe you are 5'0" and 230lbs or 6'8" and 170lbs, the chances are that you'll need a custom job.

The most down to earth commission I've made was for a gent who was both wheelchair bound and required to be on television. He wanted a nicely fitting suit, but it couldn't have much of a back, and the front must be proportionate so as not to bunch up in his lap. We made him a jacket (and accompanying trousers) that he could never have had off the rack, and he looked good.

Want a design no maker has done
You want a lime green suit with purple lining and 13 buttons on the front? Macy's won't sell you that, but Ozwold Boeteng will.

Traveling for an extended period in Casablanca or Jakarta? You might like a linen suit with two buttons or zips on each pocket to deter pickpockets.

Have you simply seen a cloth in an old photo that you'd love to buy, but the original creator has long since shuffled off the mortal coil?

This is where the magic of bespoke comes to life; if you have a whim then it can be indulged. If you have a mere spectre of an idea, there is a man who can flesh it out into reality.

Hobbyist/neurotic
This is the camp into which 99% of forum dwellers fall (myself included). There is absolutely zero shame in saying to yourself "I know my Jos A Bank suit fits me like a glove, but I want to choose the colour of my buttons and the shape of my pocket flaps BECAUSE I LOVE IT!"

There is a simple pleasure in shaking the hand of a craftsman who makes an object you see as beautiful and desirable. There honour in contributing to the survival of a crippled and limping craft.

Reasons not to go bespoke

Good value
Let us get one thing clear: bespoke clothes are not good value. Decent bespoke will run you £3,000/$5,000 (and why would you buy cheaper hand-made mediocre goods?) and will take 6 weeks from inception to delivery - assuming you live next door to your tailor and bribed him to make your suit quickly. More likely you will make a trip to see your suit at 1 month and 3 month intervals if you live nearby and every 6 months if you go overseas.

Once you calculate your time, travel expense and the untold anxiousness that accompanies a daring commission you are well and truly out of pocket.

Assuming that you have done your maths and decided that it still offers good value you must take into account that bespoke is a process - the first suit will be 90% perfect, the second will be 95% perfect and the subsequent ones will be between 98% and 100% perfect. Now we are three suits in, with little change from £10,000.

Bespoke is not cheap. Do it because you love it. Do it because you need something special. Never do it because it is the more economic or better value. You will walk away feeling cheated, and neither you nor your tailor deserves that.


Improving a perfect fit

There is a myth that the bespoke process will make any many look like James Bond, and that a bespoke tailor will be able to weave literal magic to make a perfect garment.

I may be thrown out of the Tailors Circle for telling you this but: we can't do magic.

Ultimately the difference between OTR and Bespoke is that when both men sit down and cut some wool into a shape to be wrapped around a body the bespoke tailor has seen you before hand. They are still just men, cutting the outside layer of a sheep into a full body condom.

If you find a garment OTR that looks perfect (and after a second and third look you can't see anything to improve) then really, I can't do anything to make you look better. You might want that fit in other choices, which is fine (see Style, above) but don't expect me to shave off that gut or add an inch to your height.



Prestige
When getting into this game it is very easy to feel like a king in your new clothes. Online we may fawn for hours over Vox's Mystery Tailor or Spoo's latest feud-or-friend thread, but telling someone in the real world that your clothes are custom made rarely elicits a positive response. Either you are bragging, or wasting money, or more often engaging in a practice people don't understand at all. They care little about the time, or money or effort that went into your navy three piece suit, and if they knew the truth may be quite shocked.



As a tailor and purveyor of suits for the last ten years I have observed the ups and downs of the new cult that is Internet iGents. It has brought new blood into the community and introduced the next generation of men to the previous generation of tailors. It has also set expectations that are so unrealistic that many are a little disappointed and disillusioned by their first commission.

If you are an odd shape, I will make you an odd suit.
If you like odd colours, I will make you a colourful suit.
If you love a good suit, I will make you a good suit.

If you wish to play gentry by ordering a good value suit that makes you look less fat to impress your friends, I will ask you to leave. I simply can't face your disappointment in the face of my hard work.

A bit off topic-and I don't want to sound snide, but with the current exchange rate between the Great British Pound and the United States Dollar, £3,000 is approximately $4,500, not approximately $5,000.
post #33 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by OxxfordSJLINY View Post

A bit off topic-and I don't want to sound snide, but with the current exchange rate between the Great British Pound and the United States Dollar, £3,000 is approximately $4,500, not approximately $5,000.

If you're paying that much for a suit, $4500 is approximately $5000.
post #34 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

If you're paying that much for a suit, $4500 is approximately $5000.

Okay.
post #35 of 105
Thread Starter 
I'm glad you quoted the entire post to point out a 10% margin of error in a back-of-the-envelope equation.
post #36 of 105

This is my first post on Style Forum but I have really enjoyed reading through this interesting thread.

 

As someone who worked for Gieves & Hawkes and then ran my own 'Made in England' bespoke tailoring business, I think it really boils down to personal choice. 

Strange one but we always found so many clients enjoyed choosing a fancy lining more so then anything else..lol. They would sit for ages going through the lining bunches, then call the wife is for her view..LOL. Small thing but really made buying bespoke truly unique.

 

I think the other big factor was fit. Either they wanted a sharp cut or they found it hard to buy RTW due to their shape etc.

 

Many of our previous clients purchased a bespoke suit for a one off event like a wedding etc. But some would only wear bespoke and never even think about RTW.

 

Anyway, I think the points highlighted are perfect.

 

The only possible negative element we have found in 15 years experience is people suddenly start to find issues with their bespoke suits that they would never have even seen before. This is were a 'peoples person' is needed to manage peoples 'sudden eye for detail'.

 

But overall, I think everyone should try bespoke at least once in their lives as its a truly wonder experience.

post #37 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

If you're paying that much for a suit, $4500 is nothing.

FTFY
post #38 of 105

Oh and forgot to mention, totally agree with all your points blackhood. 

 

Thumbs up for a great first read on styleforum...:)

post #39 of 105
I find bespoke suits more durable, and they allow easier alternations. RTW does not allow radical changes.
post #40 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Reeves View Post

I think to be honest you have to be very well off for bespoke, you need to have "arrived". If your a barista and your like OMG I'm spending 3 months of my bushwick rent on this, then your probably going to find some way to be disappointed because at the end of the day, it is (shock horror) just a suit. It won't fix your life for you. I think buying bespoke clothes should be a little painful in time and treasure but it shouldn't be like torture for you, if it is then your investing too much.

I disagree on your first sentence, but the source of disagreement is going to come down to a difference in what we think it means to have "arrived."

The barista is clearly a ludicrous example.

I believe that for "mainline" bespoke (~$5K+/suit), it would be fairly egregious for a suit-wearing man making a quarter million/year to wear bespoke suits, pants, and jackets. It's not about whether you have the money, it's about whether it's a sensible use of the money, given all of the other competing uses. On SF, it may be somewhat common for people of lesser means to go bespoke, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to do so.

Maybe you don't think $250K a year has "arrived," but that level of income equates to the top ~2.5% of *household* income in the U.S., so that would be a very tough definition for "arrival."

Anyway, clearly subjective, and for some people, it's their obsession... But most people around the world don't save nearly as much as they ought to. But as far as the thread title goes, I think people should make a lot of money before they go that route for their wardrobe at large.
post #41 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by add911_11 View Post

I find bespoke suits more durable, and they allow easier alternations. RTW does not allow radical changes.

Yes very true. But there are limits to bespoke...:) Which we once had to kindly explain to a client who wanted his jacket button holes moving up 2 inches..

post #42 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuitRowCharles View Post

Yes very true. But there are limits to bespoke...smile.gif Which we once had to kindly explain to a client who wanted his jacket button holes moving up 2 inches..

That will depend on the level of customer service. Rubinacci once completely recut and replaced the fronts of one of mafoofan's coats.
post #43 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by archetypal_yuppie View Post


... But most people around the world don't save nearly as much as they ought to. But as far as the thread title goes, I think people should make a lot of money before they go that route for their wardrobe at large.

Quite right.  

 

This article by Will is instructive, where he estimates upkeep costs for an established bespoke wardrobe at $14,000 a year (http://asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com/2012/01/beau-brummels-on-14000-year.html).  

post #44 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

While there are some that order bespoke as a matter of course, they are likely not interested in clothes on our level: Rather, that is just simply how they've always lived, only wearing custom clothes because that's all they know.

To be fair, these people tend to fit the qualifier of "having a ton of cash." But their vanity may be lower.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

Like anything else, if you plan on expenditures and map your resources (income, time, etc) around them, you should be able to enjoy bespoke clothing without eating Ramen every night.

I could buy a Ferrari today. It would be assinine. Bespoke clothing would be much less assinine, but I prefer to allocate the marginal few hundreds or thousands of dollars a month to other purchases/dining/vacations/savings and the variety of other things that I think make more sense. Clearly, there is no magic number, but I think it is pretty fair to say that you need a ton of cash to go bespoke by default without ruining your financial future or short-changing the rest of your life. Should I have added those qualifiers as well? They seem obvious enough.
post #45 of 105

Very few sensible tailoring houses will do that for free.

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