Originally Posted by Blackhood
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 bespokeHard 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 bespokeGood 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.