Urban Junkies is reporting the somewhat shocking ruling (at least to me) by the Advertising Standards Authority in London that will allow makers of machine-made suits to call their product “bespoke.”
No, it is not. It may be “custom,” “Made-to-Measure,” “Demi-mesure,” “Personal tailoring” or any one of a dozen other terms. And the product, when produced by a reputable and caring company will be a very good one.
(My made-to-measure tailors, Leviner Wood here in town, are doing a fine job. My clothing has a lot of handwork in it and my relationship with Larry Wood is one of trust and commitment. He knows what to expect with me and I know what his people are capable of producing. We learn from each other.)
Savile Row, in a bit of a marketing quandary itself, has fired back with its own association: Savile Row Bespoke. Made up of Anderson and Sheppard, Davies and Sons, Dege and Skinner, Gieves and Hawkes, H. Huntsman and Sons, Hardy Amies, Henry Poole and Co., Meyer and Mortimer, Norton and Sons, Ozwald Boateng, Richard Anderson and Richard James, the new association lays down the ground rules for what is bespoke. And they should know, Gieves and Hawkes dates from 1771. About three years before the street was renamed “Savile Row.”
The agreed upon standards are:
An individually cut pattern for each client produced by the Master Cutter.
Personal supervision of the production of the garment by the Master Cutter.
Cutters and Tailors trained to the Savile Row standard.
At least 50 hours of work in a typical 2 piece garment that is produced almost entirely by hand.
Provide expert cloth consultation services on premises.
Offer at least 2000 fabrics, some of which may be exclusive.
Retain full customer records and invoices. (Ad infinitum, if you look at the published lists of clients!)
Provide first class after care including sponging, pressing, repairs and button matching.
Find The Savile Row Bespoke garment specifications in the handy interactive page here.
Caveat Emptor. Get what you are paying for.