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 Post subject: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:14 am 
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I'm curious if anyone has ever pursued this in the last 5-10 years? I don't mean MTM from Brooks or Press, but actually seeking out a custom tailor who either offers a true sack pattern that's compatible with the "good old" cuts of yore or one who can fashion a bespoke model with all the bells and whistles.

Not that I'm even in the market - necessarily. But considering the shrinking audience and the clear enthusiasm for a select set of details it might make more sense to isolate a few tailors nationwide than hope and pray that Brooks Brothers, Press, et al. decide to throw us a few crumbs now and then.

This seems to have happened to some extent in shirting.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:28 pm 
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Good idea for a thread, Trip.

I have talked to a local tailor that does bespoke work about this very thing. He has great reviews but favors the English style so I have avoided that.

If I were anywhere near NYC. I would pay Paul Winston a visit. He has to be one of the last that is known for this style.

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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:36 pm 
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This is indeed a good idea for a thread.

What would you guys expect to pay (ballpark range) for a MTM jacket in Harris Tweed, for example?

And if you were to pursue this route, how would you go about selecting and obtaining the HT cloth?


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:49 pm 
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Pricing and availability seem to be the baked in pro/con of this whole enterprise.

On the one hand the fact that it's still made to a pattern seems to keep the cost to a minimum. I've had Ralph Lauren MTM and the price is basically retail, even slightly cheaper during one of their MTM events. I believe the same is true of Brooks Brothers.

The issue becomes the pattern you're working with. My love for RL is well known, but were my financial resources were limitless there's no question I'd fashion something much closer to a 60s sack coat (maybe I'd succumb to the double vent heresy). 3/2 roll, swelled edges, 1/2 lined, patch pockets, and practically a shirt shoulder. Oh and the fabrics!!!

But the closest I can seem to come is RL's bastardized Italian silhouette. Not bad, but a long standing compromise nonetheless.

I know a few folks like NerdyK have looked into putting together production runs and found scale and pattern to be a hinderance, but I wonder how much the two are intertwined in that model. I confess to 0% understanding of what it takes to develop a "pattern" to cut a jacket to, but it seems like a reasonable startup cost to absorb if no inventory is to be produced and stored, but a sort of Mercer Shirts model to be adopted. From what I understand Suit Supply has roughly this model, but leaves you looking like you scraped together $65 and wandered through an Express for Men.

Bespoke is really another issue of course. I wouldn't be surprised with a $8k price tag for a completely bespoke suit so I don't even know how practical that part of a discussion would be.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:54 pm 
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As an alternative I think there's another thread demonstrating how you can take any old jacket, scoop out parts of it, soak it in a bucket, and basically wind up with a perfect fit. So that might short circuit this whole discussion. You're basically in for the cost of a bucket and your imagination.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:07 pm 
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gamma68 wrote:
This is indeed a good idea for a thread.

What would you guys expect to pay (ballpark range) for a MTM jacket in Harris Tweed, for example?

And if you were to pursue this route, how would you go about selecting and obtaining the HT cloth?
If you are doing MTM you won't need to source the material. It would be limited by the company that makes the pattern that you want. You can expect it to be $800-1200 from someplace like Southwick.

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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:12 pm 
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Trip English wrote:
As an alternative I think there's another thread demonstrating how you can take any old jacket, scoop out parts of it, soak it in a bucket, and basically wind up with a perfect fit. So that might short circuit this whole discussion. You're basically in for the cost of a bucket and your imagination.
Don't forget the $5 invested to thrift the Harris Tweed you're about to destroy.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:13 pm 
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Trip English wrote:

Bespoke is really another issue of course. I wouldn't be surprised with a $8k price tag for a completely bespoke suit so I don't even know how practical that part of a discussion would be.
Bespoke prices aren't always quite that high. For example, Paul Winston's prices for bespoke suit started at $2,500 and MTM at $1k back in 2009.

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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:18 pm 
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I know next to nothing about how to go about MTM or bespoke, but my dream is to select a Harris Tweed pattern from a swatch book, provide a tailor with a list of jacket requirements (patch pockets, 3/2 roll, hook vent, swelled edges, etc.), have my measurements taken and then have it made.

I guess this is what's known as full-bore bespoke. But the process seems quite expensive.

I've thought about this lately after reading that Robert Noble has closed up shop.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:15 pm 
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I've seen fabric books at my local tailor, but never inquired because I just assumed that they wouldn't really understand what I meant. It took several tailors to find one that I like, and even with the one I've settled on, it took a little while to get it so that we were on the same page with break vs no break, sleeve length, etc.

Not to get too hyper-local but Trip, if you're serious have you considered going to Andover Shop? They would understand exactly what you meant, and the fabrics they have out in the store are always beautiful. It's just not always the most pleasant shopping experience and you'd have to be really explicit about details. From what I've heard online, the bulk of the work is done somewhere else, but then all of the finishing is done in-house, and the ballpark would be similar to the Southwick prices mentioned above.

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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:24 pm 
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LC - it's not a bad idea. They're one of the few places left that would understand what I was asking for. I saw the jacket they made for Al, though, and it was shockingly non-canonical. Two buttons, ticket pocket, square shoulders, etc. I'm sure it's a pattern they offer just like the sack, but I suppose it's worth a look in when next I cross the Charles.

You should also tell me who your alterations tailor is. I'm about to throw a pineapple at mine after what she did to my last round of Bills (secured at the Jos.A Bank pricing they seem to be moving toward).


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:38 pm 
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Also, OCBD - I wasn't aware that true bespoke got that low in the US. Not trying to get into one of the Style Forum semantic episodes where the crops fail and the scarecrows come to life, but I've always been under the impression (mostly from reading blogs, forums, and magazine articles) that an average bespoke suit was a $6-8k affair, at least for the first one.

In this economy, however, I imagine there are innumerable ways to cut down on the costs.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:55 pm 
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My tailor is also north of the river: http://lecouturierma.com/ - He came rightly recommended from Zach. Once we got on the same page it's been great. He's not the cheapest, or the fastest, or the most organized, but he does amazing work.

Sidenote: He's also hilarious, great dry sense of humor. I ran into Zach there once awhile back, and while we're all chatting and I'm being measured, a lady very timidly opens the door holding a dress and he looks at her really sternly and goes "After 5pm we only do men's tailoring." It got real quiet for a good five seconds and then he had to explain that he was kidding and we were all laughing.

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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:02 pm 
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MTM you can do Southwick or H Freeman fairly easily and get basically what you expect (I've done both from LS in NYC). When you go custom you are generally going to get the house style with modifications to push you in the Ivy direction (I tried this with Mr. Ned with mixed results). At the present, I dont feel any need to go outside of the MTM route.


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 Post subject: Re: Trad Bespoke/Custom
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:36 pm 
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Trip English wrote:
I know a few folks like NerdyK have looked into putting together production runs and found scale and pattern to be a hinderance, but I wonder how much the two are intertwined in that model. I confess to 0% understanding of what it takes to develop a "pattern" to cut a jacket to, but it seems like a reasonable startup cost to absorb if no inventory is to be produced and stored, but a sort of Mercer Shirts model to be adopted.
I don't have any idea of how much work this kind of thing adds to the process, but I have a feeling that it's much more complicated than any of us realize. Hardwick was basically unwilling to make any changes for me when I talked with them. Additionally, using Hardwick as an example again, keep in mind that someone bought the company outright, then gave a chunk of it (in addition to a good amount of cash, presumably) to JeffreyD, just to get him to rework the models and get the details right. This post from his blog is pretty illustrative of the skill level required: http://tuttofattoamano.blogspot.com/201 ... h-dxf.html

If you don't want to actually change the structure of the garment, have you thought about reaching out to Kent Wang? It seems like he's got a pretty good operation there and can do a lot of customization while keeping the prices relatively low. I would shoot him an email and describe what you're looking for; he'll be honest with you if he doesn't think he can handle it.


Last edited by nerdyk on Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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