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Stepping up to bespoke?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by chorse123, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    I made the decision to go bespoke the beginning of this year. My previous experience had been unaltered OTR, altered OTR, and MTM with various makers, and the bespoke experience is really not comparable to any of them. Besides the fact that the measurements are more extensive, the most important thing about bespoke is that the person cutting your pattern is looking and measuring you. Measurements will only capture so much about your fit and body, and give an incomplete picture. It's more important for the person who will be making your clothing to see you.

    --Andre
     
  2. Jovan

    Jovan Well-Known Member

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    Why use a traveling tailor when there are several excellent tailors in NYC?
    Obviously because he likes the A&S construction and cut. If I had the money for bespoke, I'd go with him as well.
     
  3. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    I went the opposite way. My first sports jacket was bespoke and I've since bought several borrelli and an attolini at discount. I've already placed an order for my next 2 bespoke jackets, however, because I can't fill the gaps in my wardrobe without it. I have 5 different sports jackets with blue in them, and they vary widely in color and texture, but I don't have any grey or brown, which my bespoke order will address. I'll likely do the same for suits, of which I have little need atm. I'll start with borrelli/attolini/kiton at discount and then start adding in bespoke as my wardrobe fills-out.

    First things first though. As others have said, bespoke is an experience, but more importantly it's a process. Don't expect perfection on your first try. It's just not likely to happen. I've read this on LL as well as here. No tailor is perfect and it's rare that they achieve perfection on the very first try. They may get close, but it's rare that they achieve perfection. I doubt you could find a tailor that wouldn't admit to improving upon a customer's pattern the second time around.

    Having said that, it's worth doing. I love my tailors and the relationship I've developed with them. And there's no match for the sheer number of options at your disposal. On the jackets I'll be having made in the near future, we're going to copy the attolini shoulder & silhouette. My last one was more structured with roped shoulders but I'm really getting in to the whole salsa thing and I want stuff that provides the utmost freedom of movement and I believe the extra little puff of the sleevehead makes a difference.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    There are good arguments either way. I agree, however, that bespoke should be approached with a certain amount of caution, for two seemingly contradictory reasons. First, it IS -- or can be -- frustrating. It does take a couple of tries with the same tailor (generally) before you reach perfection, or something close. And you're paying a lot more. Thus, not to achieve perfection on the first try can seem pretty galling.

    But (this is the second reason) once you work out a pattern with a great tailor, the results are miles beyond what MTM can achieve for you. Thus, all your MTM and RTW clothes will seem inferior to you. You will only want to wear bespoke. That gets expensive.
     
  5. edmorel

    edmorel Well-Known Member

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    +1 on what edmorel and EL72 said. The value in bespoke comes after a couple orders. It's not that Shattuck or Raphael won't make you a suit that fits well on the first try. It's more that you won't know what to ask for until you've received a suit or two from them. And while I don't know about Shattuck, Raphael probably won't be around for lots more years so your prospects of forming a long-term relationship there aren't that good.

    dan


    Forgot about the fact that Raphael is no spring chicken and has no apparent heir. Bespoke is all fine and dandy but it's one of those things where the incremental value is very small for the large sums above RTW that you are paying. Also, the other consideration, what style are you going for? If I was doing Savile Row (I know there are a few different Row cut), there are enough tailors around that have pretty much perfected that. If I was doing Neopolitan, how many guys around in NYC can do that type of cut that much better than what is available from Kiton/Borrelli/Attolini?
     
  6. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    First, it IS -- or can be -- frustrating. It does take a couple of tries with the same tailor (generally) before you reach perfection, or something close. And you're paying a lot more. Thus, not to achieve perfection on the first try can seem pretty galling.

    Repeated for emphasis. My first jacket looks beautiful on me, but it's not as comfortable as my neapolitan stuff and I paid almost 3x as much. It's a downer, but I know my tailor will get it right on the 2nd and 3rd attempts because he's very eager to please and I know he has the skill. I've seen countless creations that were an absolute marvel to behold.

    It very hard to be natural when you're being measured. You tend to stand very straight, to pull back your shoulders, etc. In my case, this caused a couple problems that i didn't notice until later on. My eye is much more discriminating these days.
     
  7. Jolly Green

    Jolly Green Well-Known Member

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    How well educated are you? Do you know what you want in a Bespoke suit that can't be had OTR/MTM? I ask this realistically, not sarcastically.

    My situation is somewhat different, as I'm in the building process and good RTW is not really available in my size. But I chose to "work my way into" bespoke. I really don't know what I want, let alone how to ask for it. I expect I'll start with Mr. Ned's/etc. and work my way up to full bespoke at some point.

    Cheers,
    D
     
  8. Master Shake

    Master Shake Well-Known Member

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    Why use a traveling tailor when there are several excellent tailors in NYC?
    Jovan hit on one of the reasons, the A&S cut. The other is that I am relatively young, and I want to establish a relationship with my tailor for years to come. While it appears Raphael can make a suit that I would probably like, he will likely be stepping down in a few years. That's one of the largest reasons since, as many others have pointed out, a large part of the bespoke experience is hammering down a pattern and entering into a relationship with a tailor.
     
  9. Cantabrigian

    Cantabrigian Well-Known Member

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    I am in a very similar position to you, chorse.

    I would recommend going MTM or cheaper bespoke before parting with 5k for a Frank Shattuck Original. For the simple reason that as you experience the freedom and choices of some flavor of custom, your personal style will evolve.

    I have found that for as much as I think I know about what I want and what looks good, I am still wrong about 35% of the time. The freedom that even MTM offers can lead to some vast improvements over RTW but also some thing features you think you want but don't like wearing more often than two times a month.

    I'd define your personal style a bit more before taking the fully bespoke plunge.

    You can try one of the Asian tailors, or one of the sub-2k bespoke guys in NY. Carl Goldberg can also provide some valuable guidance on other options in that price range.
     
  10. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Well-Known Member

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    Well said.
     
  11. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan Well-Known Member

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    Was just measured for my first bespoke suit today. I am very excited, although a little nervous that I didn't include everything I should have. Luckily, I am getting a very good deal, so my financial investment isn't too much.
    From my thinking, it was best for my first bespoke to be from a cheaper fabric/style - seersucker - so that my investment wouldn't be too significant. This way, even if my choices were lousy, or if the tailor turns out to be inept, I haven't sunk too much money into it.
     
  12. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious to hear from some of you regarding your decision to order your first bespoke suit. When did you make the decision? What made up your mind? I'm toying with the idea right now. I don't have a huge need for a suit, nor do I even have the money right this moment, but it's something I would love to do, and am considering saving for one suit. I generally shop the super-discounts, but have been able to get a number of garments of very high quality which I love and which fit well, though far from perfectly.

    Of course, for the cost of Option A (one true bespoke suit, say, $4000), I could order Option B: a MTM suit, MTM jacket (or two), and a few pairs of trousers from someone like Mr. Ned. Oh and a pair of special order Gaziano Girling shoes.

    Oddly enough, I think my wife would probably support Option A more. Then again, it would probably mean I couldn't buy anything ever again without catching some grief.



    You, my friend, are the ultimate decision maker.

    The question is how much do you WANT IT? Apparently, you don't need it since you can wear RTW. In fact, no one needs bespoke clothes. It's all a question of "want."

    I read of a taxi driver who wanted one suit exactly like the president. He bought one at George de Paris in Washington, DC. That was it.

    I know two clothing salesmen who buy from a London tailor even though they could buy at their respective stores at employee discounts. On the other hand I know someone at Barneys who buys only only at the Barney Warehouse sale with his employee discount where he buys suits for $150. He views his clothes as disposable.

    I know a NYC custom clothier who has his tailored clothes made in London. However, he uses a NYC tailor for his customers.

    I have heard of billioniares who buy MTM at Brooks.

    I know of a very prominent trial lawyer who buys the same suit each time at JC Penney. He boasts about it. On the other hand I know a very prominent criminal attorney who is known for his custom wardrobe. I knew another criminal attorney, who just recently died, who wore a very flamboyant costume.

    At my first real job at a private law firm the lead partner wore Anderson & Sheppard. The number two man bought his suits at Syms, and it looked it. The number three man bought Brooks RTW.

    I know a very wealthy truck company owner who buys strictly RTW on sale at Oxxford.

    I know a well known restaurant owner who is a notorious deadbeat. He has an obession with custom clothes. I sued him on behalf of one of the tailors.

    What I'm driving at is that you have to see what works for you regarding your "wants", your pocketbook, your lifestyle, and the preservation of your marriage.[​IMG]

    Good luck!
     
  13. chorse123

    chorse123 Well-Known Member

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    Great post, Mark. I find all this very interesting. Nice to hear others thoughts on the matter.

    Over the last three years I've ordered something like ten MTM garments, not including shirts. I've certainly made mistakes, and some of them languish in the closet. But I've learned, and have a better sense of what I like, and what I wear.

    It's quite likely that I'll go with someone less expensive, but I think I would be willing to pay significantly more for the attention to detail that bespoke offers, even if it's not perfect on the first go round. Either way, it's fun to play around with the possibilities.
     
  14. JBZ

    JBZ Well-Known Member

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    I know of a very prominent trial lawyer who buys the same suit each time at JC Penney. He boasts about it.

    Was this the gentlemen 60 Minutes (I think it was 60 Minutes) did a piece on a couple of years ago? I seem to remember him boasting about purchasing inexpensive suits (although I seem to remember Lands' End, not JC Penney, but I could be wrong). Clothing was just not his priority, even though he clearly had the money to purchase whatever he wanted.
     
  15. whnay.

    whnay. Well-Known Member

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    chorse it seems you and I are in the same boat.

    An A&S DB is my top choice at the moment for several reasons:

    - The experience of travelling to London for my measurements is important, I'll get as much joy out of walking into the new A&S and meeting with Hitchcock and others as much as selecting a cloth. Additional fittings in NYC serve me just as well being that I live in Atlanta.

    - They have a top notch reputation and have the financial standing to be around for the next 30 to 40 years.

    - Some of the current cutters are slightly older than I am giving me a better chance at establishing a long term relationship.

    - I love the cut and the softness of the garment.

    - Pricing is reasonable on a relative basis.
     
  16. rssmsvc

    rssmsvc Well-Known Member

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    Was this the gentlemen 60 Minutes (I think it was 60 Minutes) did a piece on a couple of years ago?

    If I remember the same story it was David Boies(sp) , the Microsoft antitrust case and it was Land End's.
     
  17. rssmsvc

    rssmsvc Well-Known Member

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    Oxxford MTM is the highest I am currently willing to go, but if you were to go the Bespoke route I would suggest you consider Chris Despos first.

    After seeing his garments this past week, they are just amazing and it is easier and cheaper to get a ticket to Chicago then London , and we have better food.[​IMG]
     
  18. Tomasso

    Tomasso Well-Known Member

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    If I remember the same story it was David Boies(sp) , the Microsoft antitrust case and it was Land End's.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. JBZ

    JBZ Well-Known Member

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    If I remember the same story it was David Boies(sp) , the Microsoft antitrust case and it was Land End's.

    Yup, that's the guy (the picture confirms it). Sad that I remember the suits he was wearing but can't remember his name. I have no idea if this is the same person Mark mentioned above.
     
  20. Patrick Bateman

    Patrick Bateman Well-Known Member

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