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To Clarify the Difference - MTM, Custom, Bespoke

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by texasmade10, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    ive been meaning to ask this and i think this is the appropriate thead to do so. i got my first mtm suit, it is a zegna. i picked a fabric/pattern i liked, got measured by the tailor at the shop, who will send his measurments to zegna. what happens at the factory? is a suit made to to my measurements out of a spool of that fabric, is a rtw suit of that fabric that is close to my size altered at the factory to my measurments or something else altogether?

    The measurements sent to Zegna go to the "blue pencil". This person looks at your measurements and selects which pattern to use based on your size and the silhouette requested. He then compares your measurements with the fixed measurements of the block pattern. He writes a prescription, so to speak, of how much and where to increase or decrease the block pattern to your specifications. This would look like, shorten jacket length 1/2", lengthen sleeve3/4", narrow point to point 1/2" reduce girth 1/4" at the front edge and 1/4" on the side body and back at the waist, etc. Different MTM programs have their own limit to how far they will go in making adjustments especially regarding posture issues. These instructions go the the cutter. He lays out the cloth, takes the block pattern and marks out the pattern onto the cloth, moving and shifting the pattern to accommodate the changes prescribed. The suit is cut and trimmed then sent thru the factory to be sewn together. This was the old school method. Most automated shops today put your measurements into a computer software system that will "grade" the changes onto a pattern and print the pattern out with your adjustments made on the paper pattern. The pattern is laid on the cloth and cut out together, cloth and paper at one time. This removes the step of human manipulation of the pattern and marking out the pattern with chalk. This is the method used by bigger shops. I'm sure Jefferyd could add to or correct my information about the process
     
  2. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Custom: American Term
    Bespoke: English Term

    The two should be equal. Of course "should be equal" is not necessarily the same as "are equal."
     
  3. jefferyd

    jefferyd Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Chris has it right. But I'll add this- the computer does not come pre-programmed to make the alterations, the designer has to set them up (program them) so the result is exactly the same as what you would get if you would do it by hand, and is highly individualized.

    This is an example of a typical MTM order sheet which gives you an idea of the type of customization that is usually possible. The most important element is the skill of the person measuring and fitting you.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    thank you very much!
     
  5. il_colonnello

    il_colonnello Senior member

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    This is an example of a typical MTM order sheet which gives you an idea of the type of customization that is usually possible. The most important element is the skill of the person measuring and fitting you.

    [​IMG]


    ^that's a LOT more than I would have expected
     
  6. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    I have experience with MTM, not bespoke, but my understanding is as follows:

    Bespoke: The tailor starts with your measurements, as opposed to a stock pattern. After taking exhaustive measurements, and allowing you to specify every detail of the suit, construction begins. Along the way, there will be multiple fittings so that adjustments may be made between the initial measurements and the final product.

    MTM: A MTM suit is based largely on a stock pattern. When I had a MTM done, I tried on a number of sizes and cuts, found the cut/size of jacket and pants that worked best, and that was the baseline for the suit. Measurements were taken and adjustments specified (take in a bit here, shorten there, etc.). MTM also allows many details to be specified (such as: 2 or 3 button, slanted pockets, pocket flaps or none, ticket pocket, peak or notch lapel, flat-front or pleated trousers, belt loops, side tabs or just brace buttons)

    It seems there's another category, MTO (made to order), which just lets you pick from stock patterns and fabrics, but allows more mix-and-match than buying OTR.
     
  7. texasmade10

    texasmade10 Well-Known Member

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    The details regarding MTM are pretty clear now. Thanks so much.

    Now what would you say regarding a custom suit that only required 1 fitting (in the beginning)?
     
  8. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    The details regarding MTM are pretty clear now. Thanks so much.

    Now what would you say regarding a custom suit that only required 1 fitting (in the beginning)?


    Hard to say without knowing the degree to which the pattern was designed specifically for you vs. being tweaked based on your measurements. Also, was one fitting all that came with it, or did it truly fit perfectly after that? If the suit fits perfectly, then who really cares?
     
  9. koolhistorian

    koolhistorian Senior member

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    Bespoke/custom - product of an artisan (can have various degrees of customization, fit, etc. variable to the craftsmanship of the tailor);
    MTM - industrial product with various degrees of customization, fit, etc. variable to the flexibility of the industrial operation.
     
  10. academe

    academe Senior member

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    The details regarding MTM are pretty clear now. Thanks so much.

    Now what would you say regarding a custom suit that only required 1 fitting (in the beginning)?


    This would depend on the tailor & how many times you have made garments with them. For example, A&S/A&S expats pride themselves on being able to make a garment with only a single forward fitting. Other tailors prefer multiple fittings. If you have used a tailor several times, then I suppose it might be possible to go from a single fitting or none at all (if you're confident they will be able to deliver)... For first time orders, I would prefer 2 or more fittings, unless you're working with an A&S-trained tailor...
     
  11. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    MTM= Made to your measurements.. which = custom.
    Bespoke is an English term that = Custom in the US

    sometimes MTM is confused with stock specials.
    this is the process of using basic block patterns with a choice of fabric and usually
    collar and cuff style and a sleeve length.

    a benchmade garment is a handmade suit.

    the terms are all very confusing.
    the important part is if the garment fits. and you are comfortable


    Can you define handmade?
     
  12. TonyThe Tailor

    TonyThe Tailor Senior member

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    Can you define handmade?

    Oxxford HQ
     
  13. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Can you define handmade?

    In the 70's and prior, mens clothing was graded on a number system. A jacket was graded a # 2 or 4 or 6 according to how many sewing operations were done by hand rather than by machine. A #6 had hand padded lapels and collars where a #2 did not. If you bought a #6 jacket you were sure that the jacket had X amount of hand work. That system went away when the amount of time spent on construction of a garment was more important a guide to quality. Example Levis are made in 6 minutes or less, trousers can be made in 20 minutes. a jacket in 2 hours, Brioni suit 19-22 hours, bench made jacket 40 hours+, Mercedes Benz on the production line 55 hours. This info is over 10 years old and some of the numbers have changed but you get the idea.

    Handmade to me, means the quality of the sewing is in the skill of the one doing the sewing rather than an operator just repeating a task they have been trained for or someone just feeding work into a machine programmed to execute the sewing. It requires a different more specific set of skill.

    The best clothing is bench made meaning made by an individual coatmaker working at his bench. Some tailor shops still operate this way, some use chain work where one tailor makes fronts all day, others make pockets, someone does lapels, shoulders, collars, sleeves, etc.
     

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