What is Made to Measure anyway?
You are in the market for a new suit and you're wondering about the alternatives to off-the-rack suits that are sold just about everywhere.
You've heard about Made to Measure and Bespoke and you're wondering what they are, what the difference is between the two, and how much they cost.
Maybe you did a little research online and now you're even more confused. I mean, there are conflicting facts and descriptions, and so many different prices!
You have questions like:
"How do I know if Made to Measure is right for me?"
"What is the process?"
"How many fittings should I expect?""
So many unanswered questions, but don't worry, we are here to help!
Theodore 1922 has been helping people get the perfect fit and style with personalized, hand-finished, Made to Measure suits for over 10 years and we've put together a simple guide to Made to Measure suits.
The Theodore 1922 Guide to Made to Measure Suits
The first thing you need to know is that Made to Measure is NOT the same as Bespoke.
Made to measure is a garment (jacket, pants, suit or shirt) that is specially made to fit a particular person.
Each season we work with our suppliers to select the finest fabrics from which to construct your Made to Measure garment. You choose the fabric, lining, buttons and thread.
We take all your measurements and then we work with you on the style you are looking for (vents, pockets, lapel etc). Don't worry if you don't know what those terms mean...we walk you through everything. After our work together, you get a suit that is custom fitted to you, and only you!
Your full canvas, hand finished Made to Measure suit is cut at one of North Americas oldest and most prestigeous suit manufacturers, Samuelsohn in Montreal. Yes, that means finished by human hands; in fact, it takes over 120 people to make a Samuelsohn garment.
4 to 6 weeks later, your suit arrives and you come for your first fitting. If this is your first MtM experience, expect there to be adjustments....this is a relationship! We are learning about you: how close you want your jacket, how you like to wear your pant, etc etc.
We are not just churning you out as fast as we can without learning about how you like your suit. For the most part, guys want their suit to look like something out of GQ. That's all good if you don't plan on ever sitting down. Or drinking ANYTHING (try bending your elbow in a skin tight Super 150's). If you are a model and you are modelling in the garment we will make it as tight as botox on a cat walk. But if you plan on doing any living in this suit (sitting, eating, dancing, walking...you get the idea) then we need to give you some room to do those things.
The first (and sometimes second) fitting is where we finesse that fine line between photoshop and reality.
Any required alterations are completed on-site at Theodore 1922.
Prices for Made to Measure suits vary so radically because different manufactures use different materials and processes. Think of it like cars: You can get a Kia for $15,000, a BMW for $80,000 or a McLaren for $300,000...and lots of options in between.
Made to Measure suits are the same. Here at T22, at the high end, you can get a full canvass, hand finished garment using a top line mill like Loro Piana starting at $1695. Alternatively, you can get a machine finished, half canvass garment starting at $995. It's a big price difference but now you know why: materials and labor.
The canvas acts as an interlining and is sewn between the cloth and the lining of the jacket. The canvas allows the suit fabric to drape properly and will mold to your body over time.
A half canvassed suit has canvas material sewn in the chest and the lapel of the jacket, providing canvas at the most important part of the suit.
A full canvassed suit has a canvas interlining running from the shoulder to the end of the jacket and will fit better than any other option.
Canvas improves the durability of a jacket by distributing tension from stress points (such as the elbows and shoulders) and helps it cope with the rigours of dry cleaning. A full canvas suit provides added durability.
How Do I Know if I’m Getting What I Paid For?
I have heard lots of stories of guys paying $3000 for a “custom suit” which upon closer inspection was clearly made in cheaper, machine finished factories. How do you make sure you don’t get fooled by some of these Smoke and Mirror tailors? Ask questions and pay attention to the answers.
There should be no guessing or half answers with your suit maker. Get a straight answer to these 3 questions:
1) What mill does the fabric come from?
If the fabric is expensive it should look and feel luxurious. Do a "fabric tasting": ask to see fabrics from luxery mills like Loro Piana, Dormeuil, Holland and Sherry, Scabal. If it comes from a luxury mill, the mill MUST be displayed on the inside of the jacket.
In fact, premier mills insist on it. They want you (and anyone looking inside the jacket) to know they were used in your suit so they demand their label to be sewn into the jacket. If that tag isn’t there, it is from a generic mill and therefore the price should be reflected.
2) What is the canvas made of?
There is a massive difference between a natural horse hair canvas and synthetic canvas both in quality and price. Think of it like shoes: The natural leather shoe wears in slowly and becomes more comfortable the more you wear it. If you take care of your leather shoes they will last you for decades.
The exact same is true for a naturally made garment. A vinyl shoe on the other hand looks great when you buy it but will crack and wear out much more quickly.
Have you ever had a suit get shiny after one time at the dry cleaner? This is likely the glue melting through the fabric. There is nothing wrong with using a synthetic canvas if that’s what you want…but if you are paying upwards of $1500 then natural is what you should demand.
3) Where is it made?
A MtM garment is made off site and you should get a straight answer about who the manufacturer is and where the factory is located. Why is this important? The same reason why knowing what mill the fabric comes from: If you are paying for a luxury garment, it better be manufactured in the highest quality shop in North America or Europe.
Yes, I'm sure Asia produces great garments but their labor costs and machine finished work is far cheaper and so that difference should be reflected in the price. Would you buy a car that had all the branding removed and you weren't sure where it was made? These garments don’t just appear out of thin air…they are produced somewhere and it’s your right to know where.
If it’s Bespoke it must be made on site from scratch. Period. You should be able to walk in at any time and see your suit in it’s various processes. Read more here about the difference between Bespoke and MtM.
Here at Theodore 1922 Made to Measure takes between 3-6 weeks to produce: 3 weeks for machine finished, 6 weeks for hand finished.
Is Made to Measure for you?
MtM is an option for ANYONE who wants a one of a kind suit.
But there are certain body types for whom MtM is the ONLY option and I have an article helping you discover if you are one of those people......click here for more.