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Can You Tell The Difference Between Bespoke and Ready-to-Wear?

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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This runs counter to everything I've seen from big tailoring houses, to be honest. And really the same from bespoke shoemakers. The field is too small and diverse to generalize, but if I had to generalize, I think the best work is being done by very small independent companies. Big firms often do shoddy work.

I talked to one maker about this and he said he thinks it's about the scale and lack of good labor. Big firms have to churn out a much higher quantity of orders. They have a harder time finding skilled labor to adequately complete those orders, and they have a harder time doing quality control.
I would also agree with you, but on this occasion I would disagree based on whose suit it was. If it were your suit or SC, you guys have a much more of an influential presence. It should behoove A&S to make your suit as perfectly as possible.

Me? I would expect my suit to be outsourced to someone within the London network due to the fact I had only commissioned a few pieces.

Back to the comment you made regarding small houses. I tend to employ the expatriates of big houses or just independent tailors or cordwainers. Due in large part, to the attention to detail they place on all their pieces. Their livelihood is predicated in the work they produce. You are literally wearing their passions, and are a representation of what they produce.

A&S probably would not pay as much attention as say a Steed, but for goodness sakes a balance issue should be elementary.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Well first off, it is not the tailor who will spot and correct these issues, it is the cutter. And as for the plethora of experience, in this case it can be specifically addressed. John Hitchcock was a trouser cutter when Thomas Mahon, who himself was not the most technically proficient of cutters, gave him a crash course of a few weeks in coat cutting before leaving to start his own business. Very little emphasis is placed on getting a trouser plumb, whereas it is very important in coats and I'm not sure a few weeks is really sufficient to gain a thorough understanding of coat cutting. John's earliest cutting had many flaws, some of which he was able to correct over time. Who cut this coat of Simon's? Was it John? Or somebody he trained?
Not sure. I think this one was JH.

Makes sense about the cutter which is why I prefer having the cutter involved evey step of the way. When you have that intermediary, the results are not as positive. Unless the cutter and salesperson/fitter have that amazing relationship (ala Richard Anderson & Brian Lishak).

Essentially what you are saying that JH was not ready to take the reins. Not a beneficial move to give the keys to the Benz to an inexperienced driver.
 

Ebitdaddy

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Personally I can't justify the price difference between well tailored RTW and a bespoke garment. I have an "odd" body shape being around 200lb with a 32" waist ATM but bringing the waist in a bit and some sleeve length corrections usually make things 99% perfect.

If I had the cash I'd certainly love to walk around in nothing but bespoke clothing though. But when I can get a lightly used or NWT Isaia jacket for like $250 to $500 on eBay and then get it tailored and the end result is still amazing...it's hard to justify the spend on bespoke. I'm also a bit if an uncultured lout though and certainly wouldn't notice some of the details op discussed.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Speaking of throwing money around. Curious where and to whom you would throw your money to @jefferyd?

Considering your technical pedigree, I am sure you could do a better job of producing a garment for yourself, but if your hands were not working as you wanted them to. Where would your dollars end up both in the RTW, and Bespoke world? I would venture to guess there are or were some pieces that made you raise an eyebrow (in appreciation not repulsion haha).
 

aristoi bcn

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Well first off, it is not the tailor who will spot and correct these issues, it is the cutter. And as for the plethora of experience, in this case it can be specifically addressed. John Hitchcock was a trouser cutter when Thomas Mahon, who himself was not the most technically proficient of cutters, gave him a crash course of a few weeks in coat cutting before leaving to start his own business. Very little emphasis is placed on getting a trouser plumb, whereas it is very important in coats and I'm not sure a few weeks is really sufficient to gain a thorough understanding of coat cutting. John's earliest cutting had many flaws, some of which he was able to correct over time. Who cut this coat of Simon's? Was it John? Or somebody he trained?
So...nowadays the head cutters at A&S (Leon Powell and...?) are people that was trained by a trouser cutter that only became coat cutter after some weeks of brief training?

This is a joke...
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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So...nowadays the head cutters at A&S (Leon Powell and...?) are people that was trained by a trouser cutter that only became coat cutter after some weeks of brief training?

This is a joke...
I guess I would have as much luck then having Lino Pommella make me a suitable drape cut coat to go with my fabulously cut trousers.
 

jefferyd

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Speaking of throwing money around. Curious where and to whom you would throw your money to @jefferyd?

Considering your technical pedigree, I am sure you could do a better job of producing a garment for yourself, but if your hands were not working as you wanted them to. Where would your dollars end up both in the RTW, and Bespoke world? I would venture to guess there are or were some pieces that made you raise an eyebrow (in appreciation not repulsion haha).
From something I wrote a few years ago-

<<I was shopping one day with a friend who had come in from Milan for a visit. He is also in the trade so we enjoy “doing the stores” together, to check out what everybody else is doing. We stopped into L’Uomo, in Montreal, which Alan Flusser called Canada’s finest menswear store. The salespeople there love their product, are incredibly knowledgeable about it, and love to talk about it, especially with those who exhibit an appreciation for what they are selling.

That day they had me try on a sportcoat. A Very. Expensive. Sportcoat. The fit was absolutely spot on, the construction was immaculate, and some of the details kind of fascinating. I was a little bit in love. Okay, maybe a lot.

“Buy it”, my friend said.

“You are out of your mind”, I replied. “This thing costs a bloody fortune and I could make it myself. I can’t spend this kind of money on something I could make myself!”

“Bello,” he sighed impatiently, “do you think Jamie Oliver never eats out? And when he does, do you think he eats at McDonald’s? Buy the damn thing.”

Check, and mate.>>

That was Zegna couture. I bought that one. Retail. When I was slimmer, Tom Ford fit me to perfection, but I wouldn't pay retail for it. I haven't tried much RTW on lately, but I think the Purple Label stuff that is still being made by Saint Andrews is beautifully made and fits welll, but again, $$$. When I'm not getting my shirts at work, 100 Hands do them. I used to get all my shirts at Ascot Chang but I was going to Hong Kong twice a year, not sure if I would use a traveling tailor for that. Joe Hemrajani made my shirts for a while but I moved away from his travel itinerary. I like BnTailor's suits, on mannequins at least, and there's a guy @silviovista_official who posts some great looking stuff on instagram but it's always on mannequins, not sure what it looks like on bodies. Then there's a guy in Mexico City, can't remember his name, who does some phenomenal work.

So...nowadays the head cutters at A&S (Leon Powell and...?) are people that was trained by a trouser cutter that only became coat cutter after some weeks of brief training?

This is a joke...
Who knows who they were trained by. It's possible they trained somewhere else and came on when John retired.
 

dieworkwear

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So...nowadays the head cutters at A&S (Leon Powell and...?) are people that was trained by a trouser cutter that only became coat cutter after some weeks of brief training?

This is a joke...
Leon is a senior cutter. The head cutter is Danny.
 

dieworkwear

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So our proverbial sartorial fates lie in the hands of a man trained by whom? Although to be fair, I like the pieces I commissioned haha.
Danny has been with the company since the late 80s. He was there when Edwin and Tom were there, he also worked under John. I don't know who "technically" trained him, but he's always worked on coats, and as a cutter, as far as I know.

John cut Simon's pattern. He also cut for whnay and Manton. My pattern was drafted by Danny. I didn't experience the swinging issue, but I had the same sleeve pitch issue. I also felt the coat was a bit slim and short, not as drapey as old A&S.

Was your coat cut by Edwin or John?
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Safe to say then the best coat cutter was Tom Mahon who apprentised under Dennis Halbery. Then again, I think Edwin also trained with DH. He definitely trained under Nutter & Sexton which is completely different than A&S.

Would make sense then to buy a second hand SC that was made during the 90s when most of the better cutters were at A&S. At least you would be receiving the famed A&S cut, which provided that it fit could be the equal to a solid RTW piece (even MTM).
 
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dieworkwear

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Safe to say then the best coat cutter was Tom Mahon who apprentised under Dennis Halbery. Then again, I think Edwin also trained with DH.
Not sure you can really draw a line like that. Some guys are very proficient but didn't train under someone well-known. Some people trained under well-known people and aren't very good.

I do think Edwin is a very good cutter, however, and mainly use him for my suits and sport coats.
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Not sure you can really draw a line like that. Some guys are very proficient but didn't train under someone well-known. Some people trained under well-known people and aren't very good.

I do think Edwin is a very good cutter, however, and mainly use him for my suits and sport coats.
Right you can either go to Steed or Mahon for that older A&S cut.
And the training is relevant mostly in that the proficient cutters would have at least passed or learned the famed A&S cut. The pieces I see now do not exhibit those older characteristics. Oddly, Steed does whilst A&S does not.

Never used Steven Hitchcock, but from pictures looks pretty good.
 
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BomTrady

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An actual tailor such as @Despos or @jefferyd can say better than me, but this is how I understand it

If you have a dropped shoulder, the left-right balance will be off. You can see this when you put on the jacket. The hems will be slightly uneven on the two sides. If you fasten the coat, you will also notice a bit of dragging at the buttoning point, as you see in David's coat.

Notably, not all tailors correct for this. The left-right panels of the coat are often cut from the same pattern. Meaning, a tailor folds the cloth over and on top of itself. Then chalks up the cloth using the pattern. And then cuts the cloth, so that he/ she has identical patterns for both sides. To correct for the dropped shoulder, he/ she would then have to correct for one of the panels. But not everyone does this (one of the assumptions of bespoke is that everything always goes right, but of course that is rarely the case).

Anyway, obviously, for ready-to-wear, this will never be adjusted for you off-the-rack. So you will see the left-right balance issue because most people have asymmetrically sloped shoulders.

To fix this, you will need to shorten the coat on the dropped side by "picking up" the coat at the shoulder seam. Essentially, you're cutting a wedge out. This will pull the coat up, which then fixes the issue.

Here are David's two coats. Bespoke is on the left. RTW is on the right. If a tailor cuts a wedge out at the shoulder seam, he/ she would be correcting for the dropped shoulder issue.
'
Chris or Jeffery can correct me if I'm wrong.

View attachment 1337892
Curious...if you cut a wedge out of the shoulder seam like that, wouldn't you theoretically screw up the shoulder-chest pattern-matching on a pattern jacket? Now that I think about it, would nt you screw-up the entire arm-chest panel pattern-match? Of course, you could get lucky and it could line up perfectly too without any effort. Geometry wasn't my fav subject, nor am I good on special recognition tests. But if you pick up the shoulder seam and you cannot rotate the armscye, it seems like you correct one big problem and create a smaller but noticeable one; well, noticed by us freaks.

Speaking of pattern-matching, this may also be a difference in bespoke and even some high -end RTW. While it's common to pattern-match the shoulder-chest on almost all jackets, all of my bespoke pattern-match the inner-arm seam and only some do so with on my RTW. Not that anyone can even see this or would even care, but on inspection, it may present a clue? In any event, I am not sure about any of this, I am just wondering.
 

dieworkwear

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Curious...if you cut a wedge out of the shoulder seam like that, wouldn't you theoretically screw up the shoulder-chest pattern-matching on a pattern jacket? Now that I think about it, would nt you screw-up the entire arm-chest panel pattern-match? Of course, you could get lucky and it could line up perfectly too without any effort. Geometry wasn't my fav subject, nor am I good on special recognition tests. But if you pick up the shoulder seam and you cannot rotate the armscye, it seems like you correct one big problem and create a smaller but noticeable one; well, noticed by us freaks.

Speaking of pattern-matching, this may also be a difference in bespoke and even some high -end RTW. While it's common to pattern-match the shoulder-chest on almost all jackets, all of my bespoke pattern-match the inner-arm seam and only some do so with on my RTW. Not that anyone can even see this or would even care, but on inspection, it may present a clue? In any event, I am not sure about any of this, I am just wondering.
Not sure what you mean by shoulder-chest pattern matching, or arm-chest.
 

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