The suit is still the conventional uniform of power and business. Being prepped and groomed by your barber, dressed in your best suit and shoes, gives you the edge in the crucial negotiation or that meeting, in clinching the deal. When you and your business partners enter a room dressed like this, the advantage will be with you.
The bespoke tailored suit is still an item of clothing that is noticed as the wearer walks into a room. It just has a look. Not only do you feel confident in it, but somehow it quietly encourages better posture. Popularly, the legendary Saville Row tailors are the pinnacle of this skill and to have a suit made from this famous street is both an investment and a reward. But you do not need to go to Saville Row for a bespoke suit. Within the city you live, you may be quietly surprised to find tailors who make a damn fine suit, and at a price that will be equally pleasing.
The meaning of bespoke comes from ‘bespeak’ —to ‘speak for something’— and in terms of fashion it is ‘to give the order to be made’. There is a distinction between bespokeand made-to-measure. Kate Norton, in her article ‘Saville Row Never Goes Out of Style’, describes that, ” … a ‘made-to-measure’ factory suit that’s derived from a basic pattern with alterations to improve the fit.” A made-to-measure, even from a top clothing brand, is from a block design, but a bespoke suit is made from the first tape measurements and the selected length of flat cloth for a specific client.
Truth be told, part of the delight of a bespoke suit is not only in the outcome, but also in the ceremony of having it made. It comes from a relationship with your tailor, who knows when you have put on weight and what you like. You choose the fabric during the first discussions about the intended fit and look and then negotiate the subtle cuts and fitments during the first fitting, the back straightening as you face the mirror. That special choice of lining to show off your individual taste and the added pocket to accommodate your smartphone, as well as the detail of your buttons personalise your dress and remember, when having a suit made, order an extra pair of trousers as they wear quicker than a jacket.
The setup of most up-market retail businesses is the front-of-house and back-of-house. The wedding ring, the specialist suit or shirt: their shops look beautiful and expensive; an owner will talk of ‘we’ and ‘our’ production of the item, but it generally also involves a ‘them’ —the back-of-house, the outside company who actually makes the product. Particularly in the jewellery and clothing industries, it is likely that a company in the inexpensive part of town produces the article at a fraction of the quoted price, but sold to the customer from the lavish shop at a much higher mark-up. The argument is that these producers can’t access or deal with this level of clientele, but the mark-up and the producer being kept in obscurity, in many cases, is unfair. That it just how business operates these days, but the 2008 ‘Financial Crash’ has impacted on this practice, in that it has meant that many of these small producers —the ones who actually make the product— are starting up on their own and relying on building up a client base by word-of-mouth, and if you are a capable tailor, your business could actually be starting to thrive.
The secret of a bespoke suit, even if not from a Saville Row tailor, is its silhouette. It is really what creates the impact, and along with the fineness of its cloth and the detail of the tailoring, sets it aside from other suits. Once you have been seduced into having your suits made for you, a whole world opens up. You become a hunter of fine clot
h, and any friend of whose taste you can trust, travelling to Paris will be coerced into returning with the required length of quality cloth for the next fitting. Quality shoes and belts become more important because a fine suit exposes its companions and suddenly you will be searching for a shirtmaker —an altogether different skill to the tailor.
While the suit is the uniform of capitalism, we should be encouraged to follow two lines. Wear the best of suits —the fitted bespoke suit— while slowly bringing finely tailored Shalwar Kameez into the boardroom. The western suit will be eclipsed by theShalwar Kameez in the decades to come, or by a Chinese outfit. The third line, and this takes courage, is to initiate a new style of dress outside of the suit. Already Turkish fashion designers have experimented with men’s clothing using the powerful Osmanli-style of dress. The European colonialists required the safari suit in which to conquer Africa. What dress lies ahead for us?
From: The Leader