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Custom versus Bespoke

What is a Bespoke suit? How much does a custom suit cost?


Custom Suits vary greatly in what they offer. A basic idea is your choose a trending

design displayed in-store or online, and instead of picking it off the shelf, the shop

orders it for you from the manufacturer. You get to choose separate jacket and

trousers sizes, length of the sleeves, and, perhaps, the fit (loose, classic or fitted).

When the manufacturer (or even the retailer themselves if large enough) receives

your order, they already have a huge stock of this item in various sizes, pre-made.

All they do is slightly tweak it to fit you better, or simply select the best matching

sizes (if measurements were taken) from the available stock.


Bespoke is quite another animal whatsoever. The suit does not get maid until the

order is received. If this is your first time with a given tailor, the process is quite

elaborate. They will be drafting a pattern for the garments from scratch, using

algorithms derived from your measurements (for example, they will make a waist belt

pattern by adding 2.5 cm to your waist measurement and so on). The pattern, then,

gets stored for your future orders, and can serve as a basis even if you choose a

different design or fit.


Once the pattern is made, the fabric is chosen based on your preference. Often, the

lining fabric for the blazer is also chosen to contrast or match the blazer fabric and

design. Once your garment is made, the tailor will add your initials or monogram for a

personal touch.


Custom made-to-measure is a blended category between custom and bespoke.

Your measurements are matched with the best existing size and fit, and the suit is

often further altered to match the measurements. It may be made prior to your order,

or made from scratch. Either way, your fit is going to be a bit of a gamble, as

different providers offer a different service in this category. Your often limited with

choices of fabrics, reflecting the current seasonal offerings. This is done so that the

manufacturer can make hundreds or thousands of suits from the same fabrics, with

small deviations in sizes, styles and finishes. You may see someone else wearing

the same suit one day, but it was made to his measurements, to a degree.


What it all costs!

With mainstream online/retail chains, Custom Made to Measure starts at ($CAD):

Suits $1119

Jackets $729

Trousers $390

Coats $749

Shirts $159

Waistcoats $230


Alterations in stores:

Shirt Shorten sleeves $19.00 CAD

Body darts $8.00 CAD

Take in original seams $28.00 CAD

Shorten body $15.00 CAD

Trousers

Shorten/lengthen $13.00 CAD

Take in/let out seat $10.00 CAD

Take in/let out waistband $14.00 CAD

Take in waist over 3 seams $28.00 CAD

Tapering upper-leg $22.00 CAD

Tapering lower-leg $17.00 CAD

Lower waistband $21.00 CAD


Since retailers cannot alter your online purchases before shipping them, to ensure the perfect fit, they advise you to come back to the stores for alterations. If you are not close to the retail store you ordered from, you may alternatively take your garment to your personal tailor. Some retailers compensate a small portion of these alterations, but mainly you are on your own once your suit arrives.


An example of these limits is below:

 Complete suit - $120

 Separate jacket - $80

 Separate trousers - $40

 Shirt - $25

Any costs exceeding these must be paid by the customer.

If your suit is a total flop, a retailer may remake a suit for you. This option is only

available once.

The smaller mobile shops (i.e. www.suit-n-tie.com) may be able to save you upward

of 50% of the above costs, since they don’t have to pay storefront leases and

employee salaries. You get a more individualized one-on-one service, same, if not

greater, selection of options, and all this at a fraction of the cost of the large retailers.

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