The Meaning of Bespoke Handwork

There is nothing harder than trying to describe true bespoke clothing to a prospective client today.

My wife and I are one of fewer than 20 bench tailors—-ie actual tailors who make custom jackets on-site in their studios—left in the United States, and the few that there are are dying off.

We may, in fact, be the only handtailors left in the USA who offer many of the traditional types of handwork that for a long era were the true mark of bespoke garments.

The market is saturated with factory made goods that are somewhat customizable in color and fit, but have nothing to do with the art of tailoring.

Like paintings without a painter that are extruded from a machine, these are tailored suits without a tailor.

Like “hardwood flooring” that is made from a photograph of hardwood printed on vinyl, they cast an illusion on the mind that leaves something lacking, a hole at the very center of their so-called beauty.

What they lack, simply speaking, is a kind of love.

No one has cared for them.  No hand has caressed them.  No mind has asked “What does this mean?  What is the purpose?” or striven to produce a meaningful whole.

These pieces are, in a sense, simulacra.

They are expressions not of the soul of the wearer and the soul of the maker, but rather of the absence of soul.  Faceless, loveless golems that cheapen reality itself.  An appearance of caring, rather than something truly cared for.

There is, in this, a kind of horror.  Like a perfectly formed and colored peach, large and plump, that is nonetheless tasteless.

I do not object, of course, to the ready-made.  Such things are what they are.

I object, perhaps, to hand-stitching on a suit that is made with a “hand-stitch machine” and “handmade” buttonholes that are made on a computerized machine on suits sold on websites with pictures of an old man’s hand, a thimble, and a spool of silk twist.

I object to the idea that a “bespoke” suit is just a matter of picking from a few different flavors like the latest “flavor” of a product by Apple.

And suits that have white “basting” thread on them, even though this basting is done by a basting machine and after the jacket is already finished, merely as a marketing ploy.

Jackets like the ones pictured are an antidote to such things.

The jackets are covered with the work of human hands.  Every little bit has subtle stitching, some of it, like the light blue handmade bar tacks, can be seen from a distance.

Much of it, like the prick-stitching along every seam, is almost invisible from more than a few inches away.

To understand what it means to own something bespoke is to see these details for what they are.  The handmade Milanese buttonholes alone on the blue jacket, for example, took more than 6 times as long to sew by hand on this jacket as an entire made-to-measure jacket takes, according to industry averages, in its entirety when made in a factory setting.

Something around 60 hours went into sewing each of the pieces.  A fact that either matters, or it does not, depending on your perspective.

Similarly, we probably spent some 3 hours talking with the client about the jacket, and some three hours more thinking about and debating how to get just the look that we wanted from particular choices of canvas to which style of sleeve construction would be most becoming on the client.

Crown Shaped Breast Pocket with Embroidered Crowsfoot Tacks

The resulting jackets, made from a Loro Piana cashmere fabric, a houndstooth cashmere, and a English glenplaid are utterly lightweight and comfortable, with sections of the inner structure cut on the bias for the maximum amount of flexibility, and clings to the body of the client without pulling or rippling.

It is a beautiful jacket like this from from a distance, more beautiful up close, and even more beautiful to wear over the course of a lifetime.

These, of course, are some of our highest end jackets, and some of the highest end jackets anywhere in the world.  Such labors cannot be bought cheaply.

But for those who have the budget, a jacket like this is a way of finding some breathing room in a world oppressed by falseness and marketing.

A jacket like this, is made of the very substance of life itself: Care.  Matter.  Mattering.

A piece like this is a kind of rebellion against the disposable world that we live in.

And this is why we are proud to make them.

We can make a jacket to fit you perfectly, no matter where in the world you live.

Contact us and ask about our traditional handwork and how we can use it on your suit or jacket.  All of our pieces are made 100% in house in Denver, Colorado.

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