Archives: bespoke versus MTM

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!

 

 

What’s the difference between Bespoke and MTM?

stay cool in a suit

As a custom clothing provider we are often asked about the difference between bespoke and made to measure (MTM) clothing. And while they may seem to be synonymous, there really are some big differences.

Let’s start with made-to-measure.

What is made-to-measure?

When a suit is described as made-to-measure, or MTM, it means that some number of your measurements have been taken and that the garment will be cut from a pre-existing, standard pattern that is then altered to roughly fit your measurements. The key term here is pre-existing, which simply implies that the pattern used to make your clothes is not unique. Instead, your vendor is beginning with an approximate pattern and going from there.

bespoke suits are different from made to measure

Generally speaking, a large amount of machine work is involved in made-to-measure garments with a limited amount of hand work. What does this mean regarding the construction of your suit? Machine sewing usually results in a relatively lifeless coat – it’s not going to have a very good drape. Whereas hand-sewn jackets will look and feel better, moving as if they are a part of you.

In summation…

Made-to-measure suiting:

  • Only a handful of basic measurements are taken: Sleeve length, jacket sides, pant waist size, etc.
  • A standard suit size is selected and then altered to generally fit you

That being said, let’s take a look at what bespoke clothing is.

Bespoke

Bespoke, or custom garments, are a different story altogether. All of your required measurements are taken (20) and then a pattern is fashioned from scratch specifically for you.

The word bespoke is derived from the verb to bespeak or to “speak for something.” When one would choose a length of material, it was said to have been spoken for. Therefore, a tailor who makes your clothes individually, to your specific personal requirements, is said to be using a bespoke method.

Using your individual pattern, the cloth is then cut and trimmed and the appropriate parts of the garment sewn together.

Simply put, what makes a bespoke suit so unique, is that it’s the result of skills that only a trained hand can perform.

working buttons on bespoke suit

What this means to you is really two things:

Firstly, that the fit of your suit will be completely unique to you and your contour. It will fit exactly as you want it to. For some men this is a very slim and modern fit. For others, they take advantage of the bespoke process to subtly conceal certain areas and accentuate others.

Secondly, bespoke clothing offers a man full control over a long list of details and customizations: Lapel width, thread color, pick stitching, working button holes, button selection, lining selection, and so on.

Your list of options can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

Bespoke suiting:

  • A large amount of hand work
  • 20 measurements go into the making of each suit
  • Suits are created without the use of a pre-existing pattern. Bespoke clothing is traditionally cut from a pattern that is drafted from scratch for each client.
  • Complete customization regarding lining, fabric, thread color, etc.

accent button holes

Wrap up

I hope this article helped to shed some light on the difference between bespoke and made to measure clothing. And most importantly, now you can be educated in your search for your next suit. Whether it’s with us or someone else, we want you to be well informed.

Men who try bespoke tailoring often become lifetime advocates, simply because no off-the-rack garment or made to measure suit can even come close.

And remember, when you work with Ron, you are working with a man whose experience in menswear is pushing 40 years. You’ll also receive some scrap fabric with your suit to prove that it was cut from a unique pattern.

The biggest difference between bespoke and made to measure is that the former is really an art form. And proven experience is really the only way to get it right.

Dress sharp, guys.

By Ryan Wagner

Unique linings on a bespoke suit

Questions? We’re always here to help. Contact Ron today at 970-231-4588 or ron@bespokeedge.com.

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