First time bespoke with tailor in Berkeley, CA

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by UrbanComposition, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    Hello all,

    Around March or so I'll be taking some cloth to a tailor that I've used for some time. I've used her for close to 5 years now, and she is now starting to offer "making suits." As she is close by (in Berkeley) and has been tweaking my clothes for what seems like forever, I'm compelled to give her a try. She seems qualified, seems to have a keen grasp of technical how-tos, and has been gracious in dealing with all my requests.

    However, I'm relatively new to all this, and would like to make sure that it will be a true "bespoke" process, rather than just MTM. Therefore, my question for those who have the experience is:

    What questions do I ask to ensure that this is a bespoke process?

    I don't want to sound insolent, but at the same time, I'd like to know, say, that the jacket will be shaped and pressed, rather than merely cut.

    Your advice is appreciated.

    I'll be posting pictures & videos once the process starts.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  2. Renton

    Renton Senior member

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    +1, good questions to know
     
  3. *#..

    *#.. Senior member

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    I've met up with Get Smart to get a bespoke suit, these are the measurements he took on me:
    http://thickasthievesla.com/selfMeasure.html

    There's a lot of good information in the faq section, I'd suggest reading that if you haven't already. I also wore a suit from Uniqlo, which had the perfect length on me, I would suggest wearing your best fitted suit to help her measure you properly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  4. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    I've had a suit made from Thick as Thieves. They are not bespoke; they are MTM. Which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

    Paging Despos / Jeffrey...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  5. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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    One real plus is that she knows your preferences.
    Locally, you will undoubtedly pick the brains of
    Will, iamatt, Parker, Pocketsquareguy and Binge,
    emptym to learn more about the process. Did I leave anyone out?

    What is her price point?

    good luck.
     
  6. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think the main thing that separates bespoke from mtm is a unique paper pattern that's created from scratch vs. a premade template modified for your measurements.

    To me one is not necessarily better than the other... as long as the outcome is what you want. Have you handled any of the suits she's made? That would give you a pretty good indication of what yours will be like.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  7. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

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  8. Fred49

    Fred49 Senior member

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  9. Douglas

    Douglas Stupid ass member

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    I would be awfully wary about an alterations tailor who suddenly thinks they can "make suits."

    Frankly, with someone who does not have a lot of experience cutting cloth and starting entirely from scratch, MTM is probably a safer route.

    Spending too much time fretting about making sure this is a bespoke process over an MTM one from an alterations tailor, even one with good knowledge, seems to miss the forest for the trees IMO.
     
  10. malat

    malat Senior member

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    Exactly. My sense is that the OP is asking the wrong question(s).
     
  11. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Bespoke tailors ... in Berkeley?

    I'm curious who this is.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  12. Liquidus

    Liquidus Senior member

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    There are two well known tailors in Berkeley and only one of them is female. Are you talking Ellie from Uni tailor?
     
  13. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I was thinking the exact same thing.
     
  14. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Sounds fun.

    You are asking questions about two things that often run parallel but are still different.

    1. Bespoke/custom: all this means is that something is individualized for you. When granny knits a sweater and asks you to try it on so she can get it to be a good fit, she is doing bespoke work. A personal paper pattern is usually associated with bespoke/custom tailored clothing work, but the cutter could just as easily chalk directly on the fabric and dispense with a pattern altogether. This is still done by some. All the pattern does is allow the next project to be done without redrawing it (a time savings for the cutter) and maybe, produce greater sample to sample similiarity. Bodies or fit preferences often change, though, as you can witness from the Foo Ambrosi thread, and a static pattern might actually work against it being truly bespoke: you get the SkinnnyFoo pants when you wanted the AmpleFoo pants.

    What we call usually call bespoke offers opportunities to adjust fits at stages difficult or impossible with a ready made garment: this means, if you think about it, the pattern is not this "exact" thing...a good tailor will still do many fitting operations before it's done.

    The line between bespoke and MTM is also a bit blurry in the sense that it is common now for tailoring operations and houses...even the famous ones...to have their own block patterns from which their cutters derive the individual patterns. Unlike factory MTM, which might offer a limited set options at each of their price points (you would be surprised, though how numerous the operations can be if the retailer pays for it), a cutter using a house block probably can change a lot more things fluidly. But, there is still a block pattern rather than it being drawn up from scratch.

    It's not really practical to pick through all of this...you have to judge by results and track record. I do think that the notion of a precise bespoke paper pattern "refined" monk-like over years is kind of a myth.

    2. Bench made. The way the item is tailored together is a separate question. There are some RTW clothes that are made with a high degree of bench work...let's say Oxxford, for example. Most of the high end retail RTW makers around the world will have some aspect of their garments done on the bench to lay claim to the "handmade" label, and because of the production line volume, the tailors who do a specialized task (sewing buttonholes, let's say) might do so at a level of "quality" greater than what a small shop does on its bespoke work. Alternatively, there are bespoke makers who might not put much bench work into their clothes, let's say a threshold cost operation like Mr. Ned. But, they are still making you a custom garment.

    The traditional way to know if something will be good is (1) reputation and (2) direct observation and experience. I'm not sure that there is a better way.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  15. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    You beat me to it. I was also wondering if he's talking about Ellie. When I was living in Berkeley she occasionally did alterations work for me but I've never thought of her as a 'bespoke' tailor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

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