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Does Bespoke Really Bring real benefit for my proportionate figure?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Dempsy444, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    First introduction to custom tailoring was my father. He was a fantastic tailor, trained in Greece. He was a master tailor/coatrmaker at age 18. Began working with him at age 17, Learned the ABC’s. He was doing mostly MTM and it wasn’t satisfying to me. Thru a contact I was introduced to Louis Scalise in NYC. Had a 3 day interview with him. He was a tailor/designer and was dean at FIT. Rather than accept me into a program at FIT, he hired me. He had 2 tailor shops in NYC ad he had me working one on one with another tailor/designer Frederich Blum. Scalise was pretty respected in tailoring and a very successful designer. He was the first American designer to have his name placed on the label with the brand name. He had a very exclusive clientele. Celebrities, politicians, sports figures. Blum had started two tailoring schools in Europe and before moving to NY was the designer/pattern maker for Angelo Litrico in Rome. Spent 2 years there, learned pattern making and how to put a jacket together. It was one of those “I don’t like the way you knotted the thread, rip it out and do it again” kind of apprenticeships. Learned to be meticulous there.
    Met a tailor who had been a coatmaker for Caraceni in Milan. He was basically a one man shop and he hired me. Spent three years making suits with him. Many tailors start to take short cuts or compromise. He wouldn’t, and that’s why I wanted to work with him. Spent the most time at a sewing machine making the canvass. Almost anything that could be done by hand, we did by hand. This was my PHD work. Refined my skill set. From the beginning to this point in time was 9 years. It is 1981 and I started working on my own but started very slowly. When you are being trained you are shown what to do and have a lot of supervision. I wanted to “own’ my training experience and spent the next 5 years working from home. Made every jacket with my own hands for five years before hiring anyone else to work with. Hired a pantmaker after the first year. Now I have 4 coatmakers and a pantmaker. At present I do a little sewing on the clothes but nothing significant. Do all the patternmaking, fitting and prep every jacket for finishing. Everyone that works with me has a more impressive resume,they have all owned their own business at one time. The newest guy has been with me 15 years and 26 years for one of my coat makers. I am very fortunate with this staff.

    To be clear, I didn’t work with Litrico but with a designer/patternmaker that worked 10 or 12 years for him. Here is an interesting link to who Angelo Litrico was.
     
  2. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In the 1960s, at the height of his fame, Angelo Litrico used to advertise:

    By the late 60s or early 70s he had sold-out, licensing his name to C&A (a very lowbrow European fashion retailer).
    C&A is still turning out cheap rubbish under the AL label.

     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  3. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    What would be considered proportionate for my height?
     
  4. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    Thank you. I will look into Steed though I believe he is a descendant of A&S and I'm am not drawn to that silhouette like many with discriminating taste are. I'm sure it is damn comfortable though.
    As for Tom Ford, I find his style fun with the exaggerated expressions, and yes, the fit is very good for an OTR. He loses me on fabric choice though. I find that his fabric just doesn't have a good enough hand at his price point. I believe NM is selling his OTR suits for roughly $4,500.
     
  5. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    Thank you, David. I appreciate you taking the time to write so extensively. As for the bespoke process, yes, I do agree, there is value in going through it. I had two suits made in Buenos Aires at a shop named Tomassos, where the taillor was an old Italian man who made everything by hand. That is what first got me excited about bespoke. Just going through that process. Now I am having a suit made for considerably more at Huntsman. There, I was drawn to not only the cut and silhouette but also the history of the firm and SR. I am attracted to the idea of having a suit not many people have or ever heard of, at least certainly here in San Francisco. We'll see how it turns out. However, now that I have gotten to enjoy that aspect of the process I wonder if for a frame like mine I can get things faster and pretty darn good through M2M italian. For example, Kiton fits maybe better than my iItalian tailor's bespoke suits from BA. I know Huntsman is top notch but they are far away and realistically, I can't afford to make them my go to tailor for everything given the exchange rate. (until a world class tailor decides to set up shop in San Francisco, I guess I am stuck in this dilemma.)
     
  6. MinnMD

    MinnMD Active Member

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    I second the recommendation for Despos. He's done great work for me and others.

    MinnMD
     
  7. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    Well, he can still be your tailor. You two should make a suit for each other and document the process on your blog. Take this mutual admiration thing to the next level... :devil:
     
  8. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thank you for the good word.


    Wes, If you supply the cloth, I'll supply the labor.
     
  9. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    Hey I supplied the idea, you guys figure out the details. jefferyd might still have some H&S, or some other cloth you could make up for him.

    Now, what cloth will he use for yours?
     
  10. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Could use a new grey flannel, not too dark, not too light.

    I have the light grey from that stack of cloth of the H&S goods. It's cut but not made up yet.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  11. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    This is gonna be awesome.

    :lurk:
     
  12. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have the same cloth he has, it's cut for me not for Jeffery. Making a suit for myself doesn't belong in this thread as I do not have a proportionate figure.
     
  13. Wes Bourne

    Wes Bourne Senior member

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    Oh I didn't mean the cloth you've already cut up for yourself, but the suits you and jefferyd will each make for the other, provided he goes along with this...
     
  14. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    It's been a while but I wanted to close the loop on this thread that I started. I had asked if I was better off with bespoke or a high end ready to wear garment
    Like Kiton given my proportionate figure. At the time I was waiting for a bespoke suit from Huntsman to be completed and was considering commissioning another suit somewhere else and wasn't sure I wanted to go through the legnthy process of bespoke again. To answer GBR , the Huntsman suit came back significantly off and now requires a lot of rework and, while i trust Huntsman will see it through, it has to date been a disappointing experience.

    The good news though is MLongano suggested I try Chris Despos in Chicago. I took his recommendation seriously and after reading such good things about Chris I met with him in Chicago. I could tell from the get go I liked him and decided to commission a suit. He's a real joy to work with. The suit came out excellent, and I was pretty confident it would based on how well the fittings were going. I think it makes abundantly clear bespoke when done right is far superior for even a person with a fairly proportionate figure like mine.

    There are a few elements about Chris's suit that resonated with me.. He makes a very special shoulder. It is very comfortable and stays perfectly fitted even as you move your arms, never breaking. The shoulder fits so well in a 3 dimensional way that it makes clear that the suit could only be made for you. This trait has been written about by others far more knowledgeable than I so I'll just confirm that It is a very nice shoulder.

    Another element is that the suit is light and comfortable yet has structure. It has very graceful shaping

    He also makes a nice pair of pants that have the effect of thinning you in the waist.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  15. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    ^ That may be the most valuable information on the website. So many people ask for advice, and we almost never hear whether it turned out well of badly. This kind of follow-up shows real community spirit and is highly valued by those trying to get answers to questions they have.
     
  16. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    So based on the experience, does it seem that having the bespoke tailor closer to home is key to good bespoke? I can't imagine how a Savile Row tailor can disappoint, unless the distance made it near impossible to get multiple fitting.

    I ask because you hear a lot of good and bad bespoke stories. It would be valuable to nail down the most important variables to picking a bespoke tailor.
     
  17. Kyle is raaddd

    Kyle is raaddd Active Member

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    Agreed. I mostly lurk here, but I had to comment, this thread was definitely a great read.
     
  18. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    If by "close to home" you mean around your city, I would say it helps the bespoke process to have your tailor closer but it's worth dealing with some distance if you find a really good tailor who you trust and know will do their best work for you. I was open to working with Despos because I knew I travelled to Chicago frequently, he had such a reputation, and there isnt a comparable tailor in San Francisco. The distance didn't have a negative effect, the whole thing was smooth. But I didn't rush him and he didn't rush me. We just let the bespoke process play out naturally.

    In the case of Savile Row USA visits, a couple problems occur despite the reputations of the firms. One is the distance is a bit too far and the time between fittings can be 6 months. I do wonder if this blunts some of the intangible aspects of the cutter's process as he may lose his feel for you with such long lapses. The bigger risk though is impatience. I believe there is a real incentive by major houses on the Row to get the suit done in fewer fittings when there is six months between each fitting. Some firms skip the baste fitting (A&S) or ship a suit after just 2 fittings believing they can accurately make any changes you ask for in the second fitting. It's said by some that a great tailor can make a suit in 2 or fewer fittings anyway, but for a person's first suit and one that is separated by a lot of time this seems foolish. I would strongly advise any Americans commissioning a suit from a traveling SR tailor to insist on a baste fitting and at least three fittings. It will take longer to get your suit but your better off having it done right. Be patient and be willing to wait 4 or 5 fittings if that is what it takes.

    And here is the rub on SR. While the Row has great talent it's also a business. The large Houses have an incentive to close your order out and that incentive is greater than the one to fuss over the details of your suit like we imagine a master tailor would. It's up to you to make them fuss.

    The Row deals with a lot of newbie customers who have a hard time articulating what the want. my limited experience and the conversations I have had with others suggests they have no problem rolling a customer like that. I would only commission a suit from the Row after you have a lot of experience and can be firm and clear about what you Expect and want.

    We have some great tailors in the US though like Despos and Logsdail to just name a couple.
    I would be inclined to just stay here and avoid the FX premium.
     
  19. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    This is a sad story for me. It would seem that the endearing stories of Savile Row tradition might be slowly fading. It is a shame that one now needs to arm themselves with a good amount of sartorial knowledge to make sure they are not mislead, or forgotten. So the bespoke dream is more like a perilous journey, with rewards being given to those that travel through the pitfalls.
     
  20. Dempsy444

    Dempsy444 Senior member

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    I hate to smear the Row. That is not my purpose. I have had only one Row suit made, so I only know so much. But if you talk to people who have used the big names on the Row, you will hear a simiar storyline more often then you would expect. . Having said that, there are plenty of great Row tailors and tailors in the area who probably do insist that everything be just right before it goes out the door. But that is because the tailor is that way, not because he is on the Row. The lesson for me is to spend your energy seeking out the tailor you trust will do his best work for you and nothing less. That person exists in London but also in the US.


    Gauge the tailors talent and devotion. Don't get hung up on prestige and historical romance of his address.
     

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