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  • Carol Alayne

The credit crunch: Best value…made-to-measure or bespoke

It seems from recent press that ‘buying quality’ is the advice when preparing your wardrobe in times of financial uncertainty. So how does this apply with your tailored garments.

In ‘Looking the Business‘ (Times Online) the suggestion is that made-to-measure is a better option to bespoke. It may be helpful to expand a little on what lies behind each of these terms.

The process of made-to-measure involves in effect the use of a pre-set template to which a limited number of measures can be applied to make for a closer fit to a client’s figure. Generally there will be a limited choice available for stylistic changes such as the type of pocket or number of buttons. Once details are finalised they are sent to a factory for the suit to be made up. The client will have probably one more fitting where limited adjustments can be made. The end result is something that will give a generally acceptable fit but without authentic refinement to the figure of the client.

By way of contrast, bespoke gives control to the client throughout the whole process. There are literally no limitations to the adjustments that can be made with regard to materials, fit or style. Also, because of the way in which the garment is made, over a period of time it will ‘mature’ and settle on the figure for which it is designed. The fusing of materials (literally gluing together) that us used in the made-to-measure process limits this process.

Longevity also has a part to play. We all understand only too well how our body shape changes over time. With a made-to-measure suit it is difficult to accommodate these changes because of the way in which the garment has been constructed (see comments re fusing above). If I were to tell you that recently I made some modifications to a suit that was made before I was born, it gives you some idea as to how bespoke stands the test of time.

So for these financially challenging days lets do a ‘back of an envelope’ calculation on the respective values of each. The average cost of a £500 made-to-measure suit with a lifespan of about 5 years (worn once a week) works out at around £2 per week. A bespoke suit at around £2,500, with a lifespan of 30 years, and with the same frequency of use works out at £1.60 per week. And that is for a suit that fits.

You think that 30 years is excessive? A number of my clients are having their grandfather’s suits re-modelled. Go figure!

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