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Made To Measure VS Custom VS Bespoke Suits

Whats the difference?

Theres a lot of different terminology out there when it comes to Custom Tailoring. We at Allan David Bespoke Tailoring would like to clear the air, and lay your heads to rest. So what is the real difference between Made to Measure, Custom, and Bespoke Suits. Let’s have a look.



Custom Suits


Perhaps the most broadly defined of the three a Custom suit is simply one that is made for a specific individual and includes optionality for selecting cloth and style details. Custom Suits can be both made to measure or bespoke. A custom tailor is simply a tailor who makes custom suits. What separates the term custom suit from the others is its lack of specific definition. There are no firmly established guidelines or rules that distinguish one custom suit from another in terms of make or quality. The phrase “Custom Suit” really is a sort of grey zone that many tailors leverage to obfuscate the truth about the quality of their suits from their clients.


Made to Measure Suits


Made to Measure suits are most commonly found at higher end menswear store as a custom suit offering aside from their usual off the rack wares. As the name implies each suit is individually made as per the measurements taken from the client. Made to Measure suits are made in factories using the same machinery and processes as any other factory made suit. From the inside they are identical and offer no real benefit from an off the rack suit except that odd sized individuals might achieve a marginally better fit. You can of course choose the cloth and have some say about styling and trimming options. This optionality is really all that accounts for the 30% mark up compared to off the rack options. The pattern for a made to measure suit is derived from a pre established patterns by the manufacturer with small adjustments made to reflect the measurements taken from the client. However these adjustments generally only relate to length and width and do no include any adjustments for figure or posture. In rare cases a client may get a fitting for a made to measure suit, but this certainly is not the norm. In most cases they come fully finished from the factory barring sleeves and trouser hem, which are marked on the client. While making the hems they may also decide to take in or let out the chest, or waist a bit here and there, and this is passed off as a proper fitting. Mostly made to measure is about the allusion of having a suit custom made for the client, but really its a factory job with a few experiential embellishments.


Bespoke Suits


Bespoke represents the highest level quality tailoring service available. The entire process is done from scratch and the ground up. Like the other two the process starts with an initial consultation where the client is responsible for choosing cloth, preferences and style details. The difference to note here is that the consultation for the bespoke suit will be more thorough especially in respect to measurements taken and assessment of body and posture. Generally speaking the vast majority of people have various physical asymmetries and inconsistencies that can be observed and accounted for through pattern drafting and fitting. Client measurements and observations are sent to a cutter where a unique individual pattern is drafted from scratch, and the necessary adjustments for posture and stance are made prior to the first fitting. Fitting is an essential element of the bespoke process and cannot faithfully be eliminated. The first fitting is termed the “Skeleton Baste”. It is a loosely constructed first draft of the suit complete with canvas. The objective of the skeleton baste is to exam the lay of the cloth on the client’s body. Despite having a personal pattern made, the truth is they are only templates designed to get as close to an accurate starting point as possible for the first fitting. After the first fitting the suit is then moved along the making process and brought close to completion before inviting the client back for a second fitting. The second fitting, also called a forward fitting, is used to check the adjustments from the first and also refine the overall fit a little more. Sometimes, a third fitting may be required for more difficulty figures. However, generally the suit can be fully finished and pressed and then delivered. The process of a bespoke suit is involved, detailed and very labour intensive. For these reasons it is considered the gold standard of tailoring. It is commonly accepted that a genuine bespoke suit requires a minimum of 80 hours labour to complete, excluding pattern drafting and fittings.





The world of tailoring can be a confusing place, especially for the under informed consumer. Many tailor shops and tailoring services take advantage of this lack of knowledge and clarity to up sell and idea of feeling rather than reality. If you want to know exactly what you’re getting when you buy a suit, you need to ask some basic questions. Where was the suit made? Who made the suit? How long does it take you to make a suit? Do I getting any fitting? If the sales agent or tailor cannot confidently answer your questions move along to someone who can. One simple and perhaps ugly truth is that price can someone dictate why level of quality suit your purchasing. Be careful because it cannot alway be reliable. Generally speaking a Made to Measure suit will cast between $1000-$2000 and upwards to $3000 for certain high fashion brands. Bespoke suits generally speaking need to be a minimum of $4000, with the upper range being as much as someone is willing to pay. Custom suits in the $600-$1000 range aren’t really worth the hassle if you are able to find something off the rack.

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