Friday, June 29, 2012


No matter how good the label is it can never be as good as something that starts with no label, but subsequently may have one; -that would be your own name. The very best suit you can get is one that is made just for you, which is a “bespoke” suit. However such a suit can be delivered in two ways: a custom-made suit or a tailor-made suit. A custom suit can mean your measurements are taken in one place, but made somewhere else. A tailor-made suit is one that is actually made by a tailor, perhaps with fabric you’ve picked out, to your specifications. Assuming you are using high quality fabric and your tailor is skilled at what he is doing, you can’t get any better than that. 
A custom suit can be just as good if rigorous standards are met. Your measurements are taken and then the suit is ordered for you. But nothing is more important than where it is made, apart from the material it is made from. If your measurements are taken here and then the suit is made in Shanghai, it isn’t likely to be very good. I have yet to see a really good suit made in China; the fit is wrong, the proportions are off, or the workmanship is poor. The Chinese still don’t know how to make a good suit. The exception is Hong Kong, where suits of the highest quality are custom-made, probably as a result of the British influence. As stated previously, Italian made clothing is consistently superior. However, suits of equal quality are also made in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and some other European countries. 
Wherever it is made a custom suit will be made to  your exact measurements, and will fit you better than anything you can get off a rack. The same applies to shirts, and of course sports jackets and pants. The down side is the cost, although these items are surprisingly affordable and often less expensive than designer label clothing. Custom shirts particularly compare well to retail prices on ready-made versions. But to the extent the shirt is covered by the suit, the suit is far more important. 
Another kind of suit could be considered semi-custom, in that it comes from a fashion label, but is tailored and finished for you. These come from some of the high-end brands. Tailored suits will cost more than something off the rack, so you should consider it carefully, like an investment. That is where the classic look comes in. You want it to be something you can wear five or more years from now and still look good. That can be accomplished by avoiding extremes of any kind or the trendiness of the day. You don’t have to go to London to have a fine classic suit made for you. You should be able to find a good tailor in your own location. If not, they will find you. There are men who travel from city to city taking measurements for clothing that is then made elsewhere, i.e. Hong Kong, which can produce a good quality suit for you. But a lot depends on what it’s made of. You should try to buy the very best fabric you can afford for best results. If you’re not familiar with the tailor look at some of their other work, or seek out recommendations. 
If you need a good suit it is well worth the cost. It is not something you buy that frequently. Another item that you can also find custom-made is a pair of shoes. Here again the best come from Italy, but there are also companies like Johnston & Murphy who make personally customized shoes in the USA, which they will also refurbish for life. Most of their products are now imported- the better ones from Italy, but the very best are American-made. These are more costly, but it is something like a custom suit, that is a long-term investment, and works with something like a pair of classic wing-tips. 
Clearly not everyone can afford these things, but sometimes if you add up money you’ve spent frivolously or on inferior goods you can come up with the funds. Again these are not just purchases for today, but tomorrow as well. 

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