Archives: Suits

How our finest suits are made

Earlier this month, Ron and I flew out to visit one of our vendors in New York state. We believe that it’s incredibly important to have a close professional relationship with our business partners. It’s also very important to all of us at Bespoke Edge that we understand how our products are manufactured. So, it was with great excitement that we flew out for a quick 36 hours to visit Adrian Jules, in Rochester. While there, we toured the factory floor and reconnected with some incredibly talented and kind people.

Personally, this was my very first trip to a suit factory. As a former engineer, I was particularly interested in the manufacturing process. The Adrian Jules leadership was kind enough to allow me to take some photos.

This article is what I would call a brief overview of suit manufacturing. It’s by no means exhaustive. It only begins to answer the question, how is a suit made? With around 280 parts that go into one suit, the process can be quite complex, but this article will show you a lot!

Pattern making

If you have had an appointment with us, you know that we are very thorough with our measurements. Over 20 measurements go into the creation of one suit. After each client appointment, there is a considerable amount of post processing that goes into each order. One to three days later, we’re ready to contact the factory.

For each of our Signature Line suits, or high-end offerings, Ron and Victor will connect on the phone and discuss the subtleties of how each individual suit will fit, per our client’s needs and desires. Shoulder slope and client posture are debated, fabric drape is discussed, and a bespoke suit pattern created.

Here’s Ron with Victor, the Adrian Jules Master Tailor. Victor, on the right, has over 40 years of experience in garment manufacturing, while Ron is just about to hit 40 years himself in menswear sales and service.

american made custom suits master tailor

Cutting

Once the patterns are created the design is off to the cutting room. The patterns for each piece of the suit are arranged as efficiently as possible (i.e. “nested”) on the stock fabric via a computer program. While software certainly helps, there is still a decent amount of oversight required. For instance, some fabrics need to be laid out in such a way that they match other parts. Complex patterns like plaids need to line up perfectly. Afterall, you can’t have a plaid chest pocket whose pattern doesn’t line up with the rest of the suit!

The completed layout is then sent to the cutter which uses a very small, and very sharp, reciprocating saw to cut the fabric to within the width of a human hair.

And even during the cutting process, small adjustments are sometimes made by hand to ensure proper alignment of parts and patterns.

Back in my engineering days, we would employ an almost identical process to cut out pieces of composite to build an aircraft. With composite sheets of graphite or fiberglass, we would pull a vacuum on the composite cloth to hold it in place while cutting. I was surprised to learn that the same technique was used with wool! But because wool is porous there needs to be a sheet of plastic on top such that a vacuum will hold.

how a suit pattern is cut

In the image above, you can see the cloth in navy, the paper backing, and the plastic top that will enable the vacuum to pull down and hold the cloth in place while it’s being cut to size.

The cut pieces are collected and then pressed. And in some cases, the corresponding canvas (more on this later) is pressed as well such that both the fabric and the canvas are a perfect match to one another. Ron and I loved seeing this attention to detail.

Sewing

Once the pieces are all cut out and appropriately pressed, they leave the cutting room floor and go out into the sewing room where the suit jacket will begin to take shape.

Personally, my favorite part of the tour was the lapel station. Here, the lapel is cut by hand to the desired pattern (notched, peaked, etc), but it’s so much more than that! The gentleman in charge of this station has many years of experience (he wouldn’t tell me exactly how many!). And on the wall behind him were dozens and dozens of lapel contours. I watched him as he worked and I was amazed at the care and attention to detail that went into each suit jacket lapel. It’s truly an art.

the lapel cutting station for how is a suit made

the suit lapel patterns

Meanwhile, other parts of the jacket are coming together a few stations over. Here, the pockets are carefully crafted. By the way, the gentleman in the photo below has over 30 years of experience in garment manufacturing.

pocket making in a custom suit

detail on pocket construction

Canvas construction

The following images show something very special. This is a full canvas assembly that will be joined with the chest pieces of a suit. You can read all about full canvas construction here, but the key thing to understand is that this horse hair material (hair from the mane and tail of a horse) will help the suit jacket shape to your body after repeated wearings, but will also help the jacket maintain rigidity and stiffness, something that a synthetic material just can’t provide. This specific canvas has a density of 21 threads per inch, the highest that’s available.

how are suits made with horse hair full canvas construction

I was pleased to see that the canvas had a shoulder pad cutout designed specifically for your clavicle, such that the pad will rest better.

At the risk of sounding clique, it’s the full canvas construction that takes a suit from ordinary to extraordinary.

Underpressing

You’ve probably heard of suits being pressed before. Most likely, it was when you took your jacket to the dry cleaner and it came back nice and pressed and wrinkle free. But pressing also takes place at the factory. It’s usually the final step before being boxed up and shipped to its final destination. However, at the Adrian Jules factory, in addition to final pressing, they are methodical about what they call underpressing. This is the technique of pressing certain subassemblies of the jacket to help form the jacket up in mid-production.

Here is an example of a press that is specifically designed to shape the shoulder section of a men’s custom suit.

pressing the shoulders of a suit

And here’s another press, but in the closed position (this is for a chest piece).

closed suit press

And not all of the presses are for large pieces, as several are specifically designed to press and form details of the jacket.

detail underpress

I want to note that in addition to this underpressing, there is a significant amount of hand molding and shaping that is ongoing throughout the build process.

Eventually, the different panels of the suit are joined together into larger assemblies and begin to look a lot more like a suit jacket.

how are suits made

From here, the sleeves are joined, any remaining basting thread removed, and the finishing touches applied to create a suit that you have probably seen me or Ron wearing!

How are suits made? Wrap up

This was an incredible trip for us. We spent around 7 hours in the factory asking questions and learning about the process. Ron also had ample time to chat with Victor and discovered new techniques for advanced measuring and tailoring that will further refine our process.

And from my perspective, there’s no doubt in my mind that we are offering the finest suits in the United States right now. Ron’s skill in measuring and fitting, combined with the talent and people at Adrian Jules, enable us to offer a very unique and truly one of a kind suit.

Make an appointment today and we’ll make a believer out of you too!

 

 

How to spot a custom suit – 4 subtle giveaways

liner-and-construction

Custom suiting for men has certainly grown in popularity over the past five years. Many men are discovering the advantages of buying a custom suit or tuxedo that’s made for them, and as individual as their own signature.

As you can imagine, there are many, many attributes of a suit that can be customized when you shop bespoke, but there are four that I would call the tell-tale signs of a bespoke suit. These are subtle things that are almost exclusive to the world of men’s custom clothing.

Does it fit?

Obviously, fit is the most important thing. You’ll know a good fit when you see it.

The sleeves will be of an appropriate length, the body shaped and neatly contoured around the torso, and the shoulders right where they should be. Less obvious to the untrained eye, will be that the jacket lapel lays flat on the chest and without a gap between the shirt collar on the back of the neck.

Working sleeve buttonholes on a custom suit

Working sleeve buttonholes (surgeon cuffs) are a throwback to the old days, when all jackets where bespoke and had functional buttonholes on the sleeves.

Historically, military field surgeons wore jackets that they could roll up when helping a wounded soldier in the field. At one point in time, many of these surgeons lived in Saville Row, London. When the tailors moved into the neighborhood, a little cross pollination happened that resulted in working buttonholes becoming the norm on men’s suiting.

Pick stitching

Pick stitching is often neglected on off-the-rack suits. It’s labor intensive (when done right) and somewhat difficult to do well. It’s easiest for most manufacturers to simply forget it altogether.

But that’s a shame, because pick stitching is a subtle detail that can really add some life to a men’s jacket. Look for it along the lapel and pocket flaps.

Pattern matching over pockets

This is something that you have to look closely to see. What you are looking for is that with patterned fabrics (plaids, stripes, etc), do the pockets line up with the rest of the shirt? In other words, was the pocket fabric haphazardly sewn on or was care taken during this process to line up the pattern on the pocket with the rest of the suit or shirt?

signs of a good custom suit

Scottsdale style: The T-shirt and sportcoat combo

custom suits phoenix

The T-shirt and sportcoat pairing is one of those sartorial risks that few take and even fewer can pull off. And that’s too bad because it can really be a cool look.

From my personal experience, it’s clear that a lot of men feel that the T-shirt combo is a “young man’s game.” While most of these “young men” think that it’s too fashion forward for them. Indeed, I’d agree that it’s a relatively high-style look, but only when done properly. And doing it properly is very important.

So, with this blog post, I want to take a close look at Brett’s outfit in the above picture and explain his styling.

But first, let’s explain the background. Brett was on a recent business trip to Scottsdale. If you’ve been following us on social media you’ll know that we are in the midst of expanding our business into the Scottsdale area. Although the temperature is starting to cool down in Denver, it’s still very warm in Scottsdale. This was the driving factor behind Brett reaching for a T-shirt that day.

Now, wearing short sleeves under a jacket is a great way to stay cool when the temperature rises. There’s no need to frown upon it as a style no-no, so long as it really is a warm day. Long sleeves will have a tendency to trap heat around your arms, even when you unbutton the cuffs. This is why when it gets really warm, you may want to consider ditching the sleeves altogether. If we were to go a step farther, we could apply this thinking to the neckline because a typical cotton shirt collar will also have a tendency to trap heat. However, I admit that this may have a rather trivial impact for most men. Nevertheless, removing that extra fabric from your shirt by wearing a T-shirt instead is one more thing you can do to help stay cool.

Let’s talk about the T-shirt.

Brett is wearing a black striped white shirt. The white background is appropriate for a daytime appointment and the monochromatic nature of the shirt is classically stylish.

And the jacket?

Believe it or not, Brett’s really proving the versatility of his wardrobe here. This jacket is one of BE’s finest fabrics and has carried Brett through some elegant events. It’s a wool fabric, which you may be thinking would be too warm for Scottsdale, but as one of our better fabrics, it’s actually very breathable. The herringbone pattern is both textural and dressy. The blue lapel button hole is a nod to his pants.

scottsdale mens clothing herringbone jacket

The pants are dark in color and provide lengthening to the overall look. Anchored by the neutral hue of his sportcoat, our attention is directed to his shirt. Like all suit jackets, the V-shape of the lapels direct our eye up to the face.

Finally, the casual cotton pocket square is a floral pattern that nicely refers to his shirt and the warm weather.

scottsdale mens clothing pocket square

And of course, all of his clothes fit they way that they should.

Wrap up

The T-shirt and sportcoat look may be tough to pull off, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Keep your T-shirt simple. Nothing too distracting. Nothing with logos or anything that’s too bright.

As for the jacket, keep the tones lighter during the day and darker at night.

And remember, just because no one else is doing it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or couldn’t. If anything, it’s an opportunity for this Scottsdale style to set you apart from the pack.

By Ryan Wagner

scottsdale style mens custom clothing

Unique suit linings from Bespoke Edge

suit linings from bespoke edge

For some time now, Ron has been searching high and low for some unique suit linings. A task that when you start looking, you begin to realize is not easy.

Fortunately, we made some new contacts during our trip to the Custom Tailors & Designers event in New York last month. And this past week, we received some really amazing jacket lining books.

unique suit linings

Nothing in these books is ordinary. Complex patterns and graphic prints are the norm. Lots of color too.

And remember that with the lining you don’t really have to match it to the jacket. It’s truly your opportunity to exercise your creativity. For instance, if you have a need to build a relatively conservative suit – say, one without accent button holes or fashion forward peak lapels – try choosing a lining that really speaks to your soul!

Personally, I usually go with something with blue as the secondary color since I have an affinity for blue pocket squares. This is my way of subtly referring to my jacket.

But I have been known to throw caution to the wind…

unique suit linings

I’d recommend forgetting all about matching and instead, going for the lining that in a split second makes you say “Wow!”

That’s your lining.

You didn’t choose it, it chose you :).

unique suit linings and unique sportcoat linings

The fabric

The bottom line is that our selection of jacket linings has significantly improved this month. In all, we have over 100 swatches in two books. Many of these lining fabrics are made of the superb Cupro Bemberg material.

Bemberg is a type of rayon that is commonly found inside most high-end bespoke suits. It’s Japanese made and feels a bit like silk, but it’s more breathable and durable than somewhat tear-prone silk. Interestingly, it’s actually made of cotton, but the makeup of the fiber has been changed to give it the unique properties.

Wrap up

Bottom line: If you’re bored of the same old suit linings give us a call today and take a look at some unique suit linings you won’t find anywhere else.

By Ryan Wagner