What is a “bespoke” suit?

Is this a real bespoke jacket?

The Saville Row Bespoke Association, an association representing the exclusive traditional tailors from the world famous Saville Row don’t think so.

It was made by a London business, Sartoriani.

The association were offended by Sartoriani calling its suits “bespoke”, which traditionally refers to a totally handmade process, resulting in a perfectly fitted suit – a process requiring a very high degree of skill and experience, at a cost of £2000 upwards. Contrast this with “made-to-measure” where suits are made from a standard pattern and then adapted for a customer – much easier and cheaper, involving the use of machines, for £495.

The association reported Sartoriani to the regulators, the Advertising Standards Agency. Unfortunately for them, the Agency rejected the complaint, accepting Sartoriani’s argument that “bespoke” no longer meant “made entirely by hand”. They said that it now meant “made to order”, allowing for inferior manufacturing processes to use the same term.

Customers wanting the real thing will now have to look out for tailors using the whole term “SAVILLE ROW BESPOKE”, which the association has trade marked and is allowing only qualified tailors to use. Or they can stick to the long established, traditional tailors like Henry Poole, Anderson & Sheppard and Huntsman.

Be careful when you rely too much on an undefined industry term to describe a quality of your product – the meaning can easily change.


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