Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Handmade Advantage

When talking about bespoke suits, it's sometimes complicated to articulate what the advantage is. Partly that's because 'bespoke' is so misused that it can cover a range of options anyway, and partly it's because true bespoke has so many benefits that arise for many different reasons. So in this post I'm going to isolate just one, and look at the benefits of hand-made suits.

Even the term 'hand-made' allows for some variation - there's no harm in doing certain tasks with a sewing machine, but the really key thing is that the padding and canvassing is done by hand. The reason is that this allows them to be not just sewn as 2-dimensional aspects of a 2-dimensional suit, but shaped in three dimensions. Imagine the front-piece of your favourite suit jacket - it's one piece of material which, to all intents and purposes, just hangs from your shoulder. Without canvassing, you're limited to shaping it by roughly manipulating how it attaches to the rest of the suit and, perhaps, by putting in a single seam above the pocket to pinch the cloth in a bit. even with these, it's always going to just 'hang' a little shapelessly. Attaching canvas to the cloth helps add structure and weight but, if it's just attached flat to the cloth, it's not going to help much with shape.

A talented coat-maker, however, sews the canvas to the cloth in such a way as to give it shape as he or she goes. By varying the tension on each individual stitch, they sculpt the exact shape they want, and create the sort of smooth lines around the chest that distinguish a bespoke suit.

Image property of Remodelista.com

The same process is even more important on the lapels and around the collar, where it is almost the only way to create a perfectly shaped collar that clings properly to the back of the wearer's shirt collar. In these areas, even more stitches will be used, and you can often see any of this if you look at the underside of the lapel on a bespoke suit (depending on the fabric used).

The other aspects of a handmade suit are attractive features like beautiful hand-sewn buttonholes, and the sometimes-visible stitching around the lapels and pockets. These, however, are just signs that your suit has been hand-sewn and, especially the lapel-stitching, are increasingly replicated on very poor suits. The hand-stitched canvas, however, directly contributes to the fit and quality of your suit, and is a good and easily-ignored reason to sometimes pay the extra for proper bespoke.

Incidentally, all of the above is easily ruined by thoughtless dry-cleaners who press the suit flat, so it's worth taking your bespoke suits somewhere that knows what they're doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to disagree, feel free to do so vehemently, but try do do so interestingly. Either way, kindly be polite.

Comments on posts more than 30 days old require moderation, but don't worry your message will appear as soon as I spot and approve it.

Comments that are really advertising or SEO-bait are mostly picked up by the automated spam filter but those that aren't will be deleted as soon as I see them.