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What is Bespoke?

By Tom

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What is Bespoke?…..

…/ Made to order / made to measure – what’s the difference?

As a suit maker ourselves, we are frustrated by the mis use of this term and feel we may not be the only ones?

This month we look into this confusing area in detail.


I’ve just walked around Manchester city centre to see how many times I would see this over used word &……it was alot!

Hairstyles, picture frames, sandwiches, just about anything you can think of, can be made for you – BESPOKE!

So what is bespoke? and why has it suddenly become so fashionable to attach it to every available service or product?

What is Bespoke

What is Bespoke

Mr Doherty wears his own Made to Measure 3 piece, cloth from Scabal

What is Bespoke?

According to Wikipedia bespoke means having something commissioned or made to a particular specification.
If it is only ONE of a specific item, it can be called bespoke.

The word itself comes from bespeak which literally means ‘to speak for something’ or ‘to give order for it to be made or commissioned’.

Men’s tailoring is maybe the most confusing area where ‘bespoke’ is used because it is mis used as an umbrella term for ‘having a suit made’.
In reality it IS an umbrella term for ‘having a suit made’ and whilst that’s become acceptable – calling something bespoke doesn’t make it bespoke and that’s the point.

The truth is that you generally don’t find real bespoke tailoring much anymore outside of Savile Row and the generation of older tailors who remain from a time when bespoke was the norm.
Pre 1950s/60s there were tailors everywhere as that was the only way to buy a suit, imagine that?!

Everything changed when tailoring came to the masses in the form of suit departments in stores like Burtons in the 1960s.
At this point, the way we bought suits changed forever and the bespoke tailor suddenly faced fierce competition from the high street.
A man could now buy a suit more quickly and much more cheaply than a visit to his old tailor could possibly ever be.
In a word ‘convenience’ happened and became the norm.

There was no longer any need to buy a bespoke suit for most people and this situation only increased over time
The demand for all things bespoke dropped off drastically as convenience continued to rule and the hight street could provide everything ‘off the peg’.
But history always repeats itself !

Eventually enough time elapsed for there to be a genuine interest in all things ‘bespoke’ (as we can see) and now everyone wants it again.
Bespoke represents personalisation and this has become important once more.
Men now generally have real pride in their personal appearance again and there is a collective need to be ‘unique’.

But how ‘unique’ do you want to be….?

What is Bespoke

What is Bespoke

Mr Evans wears his own Made to measure summer weight cotton jacket in cobalt blue above.

There are only a few levels of quality that exist for men’s personal tailoring.
Here’s a quick guide to each:


*Consultation in store, full measure, choose cloths and meet the tailor who will be making your suit.
*Your pattern and suit are made from scratch exclusively for you.
*Everything is made and worked on by hand ‘in house’.
*Infinite availability of the world’s best suiting cloths.
*Your own choice of design and fit, whatever it may be.
*You will have a luxury experience and go home with a unique garment.
More details below


*Consultation in store, full measure and choose cloths, your order is then sent to our Italian mill (in our case).
*Your suit is then cut in an existing (size) block to your specific measurements by very experienced tailors.
*80% + of your garments are finished by hand, it can therefore be called hand made.
*’Fully canvassed’ refers to the interior canvassing which is inside the lining being made from 100% natural materials (canvas, horse hair, camel hair), hand sewn together (not glued) and being the full length of the jacket (not half).
This construction method is time consuming, labour intensive and therefore costly but is used because it provides a longer life to the suit and generally a higher quality.
*Infinite availability of the world’s best suiting cloths
More details below


*Your suit is cut in an existing (size) block to your specific requirements (not ‘in house’)
*Alot of machine work and some hand work, it is a generally cheaper manufacturing process for which you’ll pay less.
*Half canvassed refers to the canvassing inside the lining covering half of the interior of the jacket and may be glued together instead of being hand sewn.
The method will compromise the longevity and general quality.
*Infinite availability of the world’s best suiting cloths


*This is a machine made garment which should be inexpensive to make and to buy.
*The interior is held together with a blend of machine stitching and fusing (clothing glue) which will eventually show through to the exterior after dry cleaning and lots of wear and tear.
*Potentially made for high street ‘fashion suits’ for seasonal use.

What is Bespoke

What is Bespoke

Mr Stott wears his own made to measure superfine wool checked jacket from Scabal


Still confused?
This is a more in depth guide for those considering the PERSONAL TAILORING options ….


The benefits of bespoke are numerous.
The biggest benefits are the infinite levels of choice and possibility.
Your tailor is literally going to make the suit that you want (guided by his experience).
Because it’s created from scratch, it is your body which is the basis for the pattern so in the end you’re going to have something unique.

For this very personal and exclusive service you’ll pay a premium of course.
It’s virtually impossible for actual ‘bespoke’ to cost under £2000.00 for it to be worth a tailor doing it.
On Savile Row a genuine bespoke suit will cost from around £4000.00 depending on where you’re shopping.

This is the Aston Martin of suits.
It is pure luxury. It is having exactly what you want from your tailor and knowing it can be done.
If you only want 1 pocket on your jacket, that’s fine!

As amazing an experience as this is, it isn’t necessary in order to still get a damn fine suit.

It depends what you want !

It is also worth considering these further points on Bespoke.

Bespoke IS necessary if you have physical requirements that go above and beyond the usual sloping shoulders and standard alterations you can have with any service.
Also if you have something set in your mind that you want in the design of your suit which veers away from a traditional ‘suit’ going bespoke is the only way to get it.

Bespoke ISNT necessary for a comprehensive selection of suit cloth (fabric) choices.
(The vast majority of the BEST IN THE WORLD suiting cloths come from Huddersfield in England, which can be accessed by any tailor worth his salt).
It isn’t necessary for a high quality, long lasting suit that could potentially be all you need.



…..Is the next best thing.

In many ways it is the advice you receive and not the money you spend which could be more important in getting the right suit for you and your occasion.
If you want a high quality made to measure suit, it doesn’t come any better than this – fully canvassed and Made in Italy (we can only speak for ourselves!)

To take you through what to expect :

Like a bespoke appointment, your made to measure expert will measure you and guide you through cloth choices depending on what you’re looking for.
We will help you into some fitting garments to gauge your size and see how you feel in one or other particular block (slim fit, classic fit etc) and you tell us how you want it to fit.
You choose all the styling that you would expect to find on any suit and of course linings, buttons etc
The whole things takes an hour.

When all the decisions have been made we will then order the cloth for you and send it to our Italian mill along with your order.
Your completed suit will be sent back to us within eight weeks and we will call you in for a fitting.
And that’s pretty much it.


…..can get you a bargain if you’re advised well!

In the same way as the other levels, your appointment will be in store and you’ll have a consultation, be measured with a try on garment and an order form will then be sent to the maker.

The destination of the maker is important in terms of quality but if you’re advised well and have the right cloth for your requirement, it cam be a really good option for a great price.

You are still paying for a made to measure suit and expect a great suit, it all depends on the advice you receive.

It depends what you want.

We have seen many half canvassed suits looking really good and the main reason for this is good measuring and a clever cloth choice.
There are so many different types of cloth that you really need the advice of an expert in order to get it right AND ANYONE SELLING MADE TO MEASURE SHOULD BE EXACTLY THAT.

What is Bespoke

Our labelling which is inside all of our Italian tailoring from Caruso

A final few thoughts regarding manufacturing origin……

(This concerns fully and half canvassed garments).

We don’t need to tell you that there is a difference in having something made in Italy and having something made in India.

Or China or Romania.

It really boils down to what your priorities are.

British and Italian manufacturing is very highly regarded and you do pay a premium for that, especially for clothing and furniture.

If your suit has been made in Egypt or India, there has probably been some cost cutting along the way!

If anyone is wondering why don’t we make in the UK?

We can’t get the right cut at the right price!

I’m afraid when it comes to Made to Measure manufacturing (NOT bespoke) for us – the Italians DO do it better!


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