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The agony and the ecstasy of bespoke.


Senior Member
Apr 2, 2006
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This forum rightly so praises bespoke as the epitome of menswear.

Other than the odd thread which dissolves into nonsense often due to personal grudges, the agony of bespoke is often NOT discussed much.
Is there a danger that people could stumble upon SF, cash burning a hole in wallet, and believe an expensive bespoke commission will be the answer to their sartorial prayers?

Some of the people who've made stuff for me have made for everyone from British royalty to golden age of Hollywood actors, so we are not talking some wet behind the ears set of dreamy-eyed newbie-tailors who don't know how to run a business here in case people infer that either.

Here are some of the agonies of bespoke, as oppose to RTW, I have personally experienced in the past few months which I rarely see discussed on here though:

- Human beings being human beings, they have this awful habit of getting sick sometimes. Your initial deadline, whether conceptual or very real, will now not be met. Of course, you can't be annoyed at someone who had an illness etc and needed to rightfully needed to take time away from work? But still you needed the item for a certain date, it's no longer possible, so that's not gonna happen now.

- They can disappear for weeks on end without notice. You had them in mind to produce 'X' piece for 'Y' deadline, but that's no longer possible and a feeling of dread settles in your stomach as the deadline broaches nearer and its probably too late to use anyone else now, as your other choices have much work booked in.

- Suitcases can be lost (or delayed) with travelling international tailors, so you need to wait until suitcase is recovered (it was) and when they are next in town, probably 1-2 months later. You're a month behind if the garment was intended for a particular date.

Basically the human element makes it fallible.

Morals to draw from this for bespoke fans:

- Get things made when you DON'T need them if you think you MIGHT need them in future (e.g. dinner jacket)

- If intended calendar date event is let's say next year (wedding or some such) and you are set on the colour and cloth get it made this year by your preferred tailor, even though yes your weight may change a little, better to tweak nearer the time. I believe even 6 months from date is too short notice.

- Winter coats should be made in early Spring and not Autumn (it's too precarious to leave it so late, by the time it's finished you might as well put it away until next Winter)

- Have a quality RTW back up plan in case of emergencies.

- Earn more money so you can order in multiples...:D

What do you guys think?
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Distinguished Member
Mar 29, 2005
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Other than the odd thread which dissolves into nonsense often due to personal grudges, the agony of bespoke is often NOT discussed much.

Surely both parts of the above sentence precisely describe all of Mafoofan's threads about his bespoke ventures???

Whatever he commissions - whether it's shirts, jackets, trousers, shoes, gloves or other things of which I'm unaware - something always seems to go awry. The measurement are incorrect, there's a feature that wasn't included that should have been included, there's a feature that was included that shouldn't have been included, delivery is months or years late, and so on and on.

As you say, this is part of the risk of bespoke. Most bespoke places are small businesses and, in many cases, people on SF who commission bespoke pieces are doing so from businesses based in other countries, primarily the UK and Italy. This means that communication can be difficult, visits are infrequent and things can be missed or mucked up.

So, on the one hand, bespoke can be great because you can get precisely what you want, instead of what you see in a store. On the other hand, it can take a very long time and, when you finally receive your item, it may not be what you actually ordered.
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Distinguished Member
Apr 13, 2005
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IMO the best part of bespoke is the education. There is so much I learned about myself and my preferences about how clothing should look and feel. This journey is not a straight line, I have changed my mind over the course of several years.


Distinguished Member
Dubiously Honored
Dec 26, 2003
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From the perspective of someone who produces such garments.

i have made errors in fit.
I have made errors in details.
sewers have not paid attention to cutting tickets and these mistakes can slip by.

the client needs to be realistic about their expectations.
they also need to be upfront about their body and changes that may occur from measurements to fitting.

Too often i have asked customers if they think they have gained or lost weight.
the response is, often, "I don't weigh myself." well my tape measure did not stretch or shrink by1- 2".

or did you change your work out regime. "oh yeah, I started running 5 miles a day"
of course your body changed. just be upfront about it..

Recently, a customer pulled up a magazine photo. wanted his shirt to fit the same way it did on the model.

I pulled out paper clamps. I clamped his shirt from the back. he looked just like the photo.

timing can be effected by numerous issues.
ordering fabric.
workload, labor issues,

only once did a groom not wear his shirt to his wedding.
in this case the shirt was ready the day before, but he was understandably upset, and decide to wear something else.
I gave him the shirt, refunded his money, and he still gave me bad yelp reviews... it happens.

having clothing made is 2 way street. a collaboration.
both parties need to respect and understand what is wanted and what can realistically be delivered.

long distance situations need even more patience.


Distinguished Member
Sep 5, 2011
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I've never had any agony with bespoke. I took a while working out where I would go - looking at house-styles and the experiences of others - and considering my own financial situation and where I live and have to go for work reasons. I've been very clear what I wanted from day one, but at the same time had respect for those making the clothes. And they are highly skilled and competent people. As a result, I have a good relationship with my tailors. I'm not trying to get everything made bespoke, but everything I've had made I am happy with - none of this stuff about learning through failure or not being happy with things until your Xth purchase etc.

If both you and your tailor are decent people and you know both know what you are doing, I can't see why there should be any significant problems.

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