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Bespoke vs Made to measure, what is the difference anyway?

Rory Duffy

Well-Known Member
Nov 11, 2013
Reaction score
One of the most commonly asked questions regarding tailored clothing is "what's the difference between 'Bespoke' and 'MTM', the answer is not as straight forward as you might think.

Depend on where you reside different terms have other means from one country to other.
In Britain 'Bespoke' is considered luxury tailoring associate with Savile Row and The West End.
Custom in America is consider the same level as Bespoke in Britain. Custom in Britain is MTM and MTM in America is Bespoke.

Confusing or what?

When I began my training I found myself asking this same question "what is the difference between Bespoke and MTM". One answer would be Bespoke is represented and sold by a trained tailor, MTM is represent and sold by drapers or salesmen.

Made to Measure
MTM is made in a factory, the company representative will take the measurements, fill out a form and send it to the factory to be made. It use to be that MTM didn't offer a raw 'Try-on'. Many of the factories here, Primo, Martin Greenfield, Adrian Jewels do offer a Try-on garment so that the Draper can test the fit before the suit is finished. Most companies offering this service will have in-house alteration Tailors who can tweek the suit after it has been completed.

Bespoke is bench made. On Savile row tailors specialize, apprentices train as Trouser makers, Coat makers, Cutters, Finishers, Pressers and Pocket makers. The sales person is often but always a trained Cutter. With Bespoke the suits are made in house, the tailors are employed by the company and not out sourced to other workshops. No matter the quality of the suits made if the garment is not cut and made by the staff there it is not a true bespoke suit.

Spot the difference
Its becoming more and more difficult to spot the difference between 'Made to Measure' and 'Bespoke'. It use to be that only 'Bespoke' suits had hand sewn buttonholes, many MTM houses are disguising their work by adding hand sewn buttonholes after the suit is finished. Even high end 'ready to wear' suit companies have hand sewn buttonholes in their garments.

There is a misconception that MTM use block patterns and Bespoke tailors do not.
This is false, many of the tailors and cutters I know use block patterns to some degree, even on Savile row. Some have patterns covering every inch in sizing from 36" - 46", others use a master block to create the seam runs to maintain their styled cut.

One of the easiest tell tale of MTM, to me anyway, is in the 'Try-on', machine sewn canvasses are used by most MTM companies. Fortunately for them, clients find it difficult to distinguish between hand sewing and machine stitching. In the chapter on Coat Making in my blog there is an example of a hand made canvas.
Another would be the joining of the canvas to the forepart, in MTM a jump baste machine is used to replace the tailors hand stitch. A hand stitch is intermitted and has only one thread, the thread disappears under the cloth and then reappears for the next stitch. The jump baste machine uses two threads and is continuous with no break between the stitches.

( extract taken from my blog post, http://roryduffy.blogspot.com/ )
Last edited:

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