Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tailor Made London - A follow-up

Shortly after my previous post, John at Tailor Made London got in touch with me with a lot more information about his service. I don't intend to reproduce his entire email here but I will quote from it heavily and, I hope, representatively.

The delay in me making this follow-up post was due to me wanting some clarification around prices, as this is a useful way to benchmark tailors against each other and make a fair assesment of who is worth the money and who isn't.

I asked for two prices:
Firstly, a two-piece suit made in pure wool (non-super number) from a good manufacturer (I actually specified Holland and Sherry, but they only stock H&S in Super 100 and up, so the quote is based on Dugdale, another very well-respected cloth maker) with a half canvass, no basted fitting, and working cuffs. This would be around £349 from Cad and the Dandy.

Tailor Made London quoted me £560, which is by no means unreasonable, but it does suggest a generally slightly higher cost than the majority of other tailors in this corner of the market.

For a suit made in super-100s wool, with a fully floating canvas a basted fitting and hand-stitching (which is as close as you will get to a Savile Row suit) Cad and the Dandy charge £799, while Tailor Made London quoted me £950.

I won't comment further on the prices, as there are plenty of variables that may make comparisons between C&tD and TML inaccurate. I have tried to make the comparison as fair as possible, but factors like the quality of the workmanship are hard to quantify, and could justify a higher price. At any rate, TML suits are, as you would hope, considerably cheaper than a similar option from Savile Row.

My biggest question over the whole laser process, and one echoed by at least one of the people who kindly took the time to comment on my last blog about Tailor Made London, was the extent to which measurements taken by machine, even very accurately, necessarily translate into a well-fitting suit. I felt that the judgement of the cutter is more important here in being able to assess the whole body-shape, stance and so forth, in a way that a machine cannot.

John Buni, from Tailor Made London, says:
"What is inherent in our process is the use of the data to form a twin body image and then transpose that data to form the individual’s pattern for the cut. Here is where we differ from someone taking a multitude of measurements manually or otherwise in that we take into consideration the person’s stance and posture. The latter would be laboriously difficult to carry out manually first time. Of the thousands measurements taken about 100 primary ones are used by our head-cutter to produce an individual pattern to fit the 3D image and make any adjustments where needed."

I raised a number of questions about the way the suits are made, and the options available, and it appears that Tailor Made London do offer traditionally constructed suits with all the features you would hope for:

"Turning to suit construction, we offer a half-floating canvas with horsehair as a standard product, unlike majority of online/ visiting/ travelling tailors who would offer a fused canvas as the norm but some may offer a ½ floating canvas option at much extra cost. We do also offer a full floating canvas construction if requested."

I did wonder about how the cloth was cut, and it turns out it is cut by laser. Whilst the traditionalist in me recoils at this, I can't see any real problem and, as John explains, it keeps costs down by reducing cloth wastage. It would potentially make pattern matching difficult, but John says this isn't a problem, as the suit is "assembled by a skilled tailor to ensure pattern matching where necessary."

I suppose I remain unconvinced that the laser-scanning really adds value to the tailoring process, but the main thing is that Tailor Made London appear to be getting everything else right in terms of cloth selection and craftsmanship. Of course, I can't be certain of this without buying a suit and, perhaps unfairly, I don't think I'm likely to, but I wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone else from trying them, and I would be interested in hearing (and seeing) the results.

Many thanks, also, to the readers who left some unusally interesting and thoughtful comments on the previous post about Tailor Made London.