What does “bespoke” mean? Are some suits “more” or “really and truly” bespoke and others “less bespoke” or “bespoke in name only?”
To ask this question is to wade into controversy. Especially when new businesses are popping up every day with custom suit offerings of various quality and customization.
Literally, the word “bespoke” just means “spoken for” or “made-to-order.” But in its historical roots, the word points to an era in which you could have your tailor make you literally anything you could dream up.
It these days of mass customization, the lines have become blurred between factory-made suits with advanced assembly lines and small custom tailoring firms.
Many small companies will take measurements locally and allow the clients to choose from a dozen styles and up to 100 fabrics before sending the information to a factory in Canada, China, or New York. With these “mass custom” suits, a moderately large variety of customization on the part of the client is permitted.
Many of these suits are very high quality with nearly impeccable tailoring. Because the pieces are made on an assembly line, each detail can be executed by a sewer who only does that one step—and does it very well.
In addition, advanced machinery and robotics allow difficult steps to be done automatically, allowing for less skilled workers.
But this version of “bespoke” is very different from what we offer here.
Our Denver Bespoke suits are handmade here in our studio in Denver, Colorado by exceptionally skilled craftsmen who literally sew the pieces from start to finish one at a time.
So no assembly line here.
We can show clients a catalog of pieces we have made in the past, but there are no set choices. It isn’t like ordering an iPhone where one can pick from a few different sizes and configurations.
Anything is still possible.
For example, we recently trimmed a suit in patterned leather and finished the vest with filagree clasps.
We make tailcoats, and frock coats, and morning coats. We make sportcoats with back belts, or side pleats, or armhole gussets or center pleats. We can make lapels that are exactly the width you specify and can pad or not pad the shoulders to the degree that you like. We design for you, for your exact event, to create right individual garment.
We offer over 10,000 fabrics. Some wool, some silk, some vegan and cotton and linen. Or you can find the perfect fabric elsewhere and we will use this to create your garment.
In addition, the pieces are tailored to your looks much more individually.
While most mass custom shops feed your measurements into a computer which automatically generates a pattern, we create an individual pattern just for you.
If you are a distance client, we have you send us a picture that we can use to understand your posture as well as a few simple measurements.
Then we cut and sew a complete cotton “muslin” or mock-up of the suit and you try this on at home and send us digital pics.
At this point, we can work with you by email to make any changes you might want and can suggest many other changes that will make the finished pieces look perfect on you. We can adjust every part of every pattern. So we can make suits that fit the most hard to fit shapes.
When we decided to call our business “Denver Bespoke”—-we meant it as a bit of a joke—choosing a pretentious British word but pairing it with the totally American (and Western!) place name of our home town. So we certainly don’t want to come across as “bespokier than thou.”
But we still preserve the idea of genuinely individual garments made for individual clients and the relationship of the tailor-as-artist who works with a client to produce something unique.
The bigger question, and perhaps the more important one, is “Is Bespoke Better?” And is Denver Bespoke better than a made-to-measure competitor?
But our pieces are just a different animal.
Suppose you want a dining room table and you can order one from a factory in exactly the size and finish you want.
Or you can have a craftsman design a table from the bottom up to fit your space and tastes, and can choose from one of thousands of individual pieces of wood to have it cut from. And then suppose that the craftsman individually carves the piece for you with unique details that you choose.
The mass produced table might be just as “good” or even “better” by many standards—but it is something different entirely than a truly custom table.
Having a custom suit made to fit you takes a lot of time and effort and thought on your part, and it may not be right for you right now. But if there comes a time when you want something that is more genuinely and individually “yours” a bespoke suit may be the perfect choice.