If you have read our previous articles most likely you have come across these words- Bespoke, Made to Order and Off the rack. And for sure you have wondered, but what do they mean? What’s the difference?
It’s about an art form vs. factory efficiency. It’s about something being hand-made and 100% unique vs another piece of clothing being uniform, mass produced, and economically affordable for even the poorest student. It is widely said that as a man moves up in the world and evolves his personal style, he climbs the ladder from suits that are off the rack to made-to-measure to bespoke.
In this article I’ll help you understand the main differences between these types of menswear and why knowing these details is important while buying a suit.
1. Off the Rack or Ready to Wear
The vast majority of clothing made and worn in the world fits within this category. Ready to wear clothing is factory made in finished condition and standardized sizes, and has a wide range in quality standards depending on manufacturer. Of the three types, ready to wear has the least control.
2. Made To Measure
Menswear produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. Usually a paper pattern is not built; rather pieces that match those needed are collected and assembled. It is differentiated from bespoke in that Men who choose to buy made to measure have some, but not complete control over the process. The degree of control varies considerably – expect more control to cost more. However, it is very possible to get a perfect fit – the same as in bespoke, from a made to measure garment.
The word bespoke itself is derived from the verb to bespeak or to “speak for something”. Specifically it means “to give an order for it to be made. Bespoke suiting is the ultimate experience in menswear.
Bespoke clothing offers a man full control. Everything in bespoke suiting is made from scratch by hand for the first time to conform exactly to the wearer’s body. Specific measurements are taken from head to toe and in between by a master tailor. An individual pattern is then made from the measurements for the first time. This pattern will be the guide for all future suits. The options available in bespoke suiting are endless. Fabrics, cuts, details, colours, etc. are all requested by the wearer and/or suggested by the tailor. There are several fittings from the first measurements to the completion of the suit creating a superior fit.
The cost of a bespoke suit is only limited by the imagination of the wearer. It can cost anywhere from 3 to 5 times as much as an OTR suit. Aside from a superior fit, the experience of having a suit created specifically for you and made to your expectations that shows your personality and will be part of your wardrobe for years to come is worth the cost.