QUITE FITTINGLY (pun wholly intended), a well-tailored suit is a customised item that fits the personality, physique, and tastes of an individuals. Suits were ubiquitous in a bygone era, and famed French fashion designer Jean Patou once said that “to be truly ‘siogné‘ a man should have 80 suits.” Swapping suits for more casual wear, these symbols of respect, stature, class, and style are still made using time-tested traditional know-how and modern technology. How these quality garments are actually made are as much as science as it is an art.
The team at Wardrobe recognise that the bespoke suit is tailored for one person and one person only, and thus the first step is to build a personal customer relationship. The foundation of a good suit is to elicit the needs of the customer with regards to the suit, such the fabric type, weight, construction, colour and patterns, and design. More than that, this critical first step builds trust that the customer is in good hands and that his or her personal suit will be realised.
Then, the master tailor takes accurate measurements of the individual using skill and care to hold the tension of the measuring tape to accurately and quickly measure the arc of the shoulders and length of the sleeves. For the jacket, 10 measurements are made on the torso, whereas another eight are taken for the trousers. Art and science is employed together as the measuring process takes into account how the physique is shaped, whether the customer stands erect, hunches, or has sloping shoulders, These many nuances have to be factored into the making of a suit that will define the figure of the owner.
The first two steps of this process may have started at the boutique, but the fabric storage area and tailoring facilities at the head office were already on standby to turn these measurements into a quality bespoke suit. For instance, the fines fabrics from reputable mills worldwide are already on hand for us to satisfy a customer’s preferences. The mills, where these excellent fabrics are sourced from, have a long story of merging tradition and technology to make such fabrics which are the fundamental elements of every suit. What is not seen are the interior elements, such as the shoulder pads, trimmings, linings, canvas, horse hair, pocketing, trouser waistband and zippers which are sourced from Europe with only the best materials used to ensure the integrity of the suit from within to exterior. The buttons are all natural horn and mother of pearl imported from Italy. Next, the blueprint of the jacket – its pattern – is drafted, where each pattern is cut individually by a senior experienced cutter that has to take into account each customer’s physical nuances. A record of this cut is taken and kept for future reference in the event that the same customer would like new suits. The patterns are then carefully translated onto the fabrics and cut. The whole process is done by hand.
The preparation of the chest canvas comes after this, and this piece of provides structure for the jacket. A good chest canvas is made of horse hair to provide the durability and flexibility of the jacket’s chest area. This key support piece is meticulously stitched by hand over many hours and the result is a natural and soft feel for the customer whilst remaining completely durable. Over time, the canvas will shape itself to the customer as it spends time being moulded on the body.
It is time for the first fitting back at the boutique. at this stage, the “baste” – a loosely-sewn jacket – is used to determine the fit and overall balance of the jacket. Checks will be made on the shoulder width, jacket length, and silhouette as well as the fit around the chest, waist, and hips. Then, an examination of the armhole depth will be made to assess whether there is any restriction in movement. Once these major areas have been covered, the collar gap and sleeve pitch will also be checked. The first fitting of the trousers includes a review of the waist tightness, inside length, and overall hang of the trousers.
Back at the head office, the baste will be dismantled to account for the charges recorded in the first fitting. The necessary amendments will be made before the customer is invited t0 a second fitting at the boutique, which is more of a fine-tuning of the suit to make minor, accurate tweaks that will make the suit a perfect fit. It is only then that the jacket bottom is closed by hand sewing it shut. The hand sewing technique allows the fabric to stretch in accordance with body movement, giving the jacket a soft finishing. Then, the sleeve lining is carefully stitched and tension-controlled by hand for a natural finish.
The final touches to the suit start with the jacket being machine-pressed to help contour the fabric closer to a client;s body shape, and it is then hand-pressed to slowly shape it for a natural look. All done! A bespoke suit now awaits its new owner at the boutique, ready to clothe him or her in elegance.