Bespoke

The word "bespoke" itself is derived from the verb "bespeak", to speak for something, in the specialised meaning "to give order for it to be made". The term bespoke in fashion is reserved for individually patterned and crafted men's clothing, analogous to women's haute couture, in contrast with mass-manufactured ready-to-wear (also called off-the-peg or off-the-rack). The term originated from Savile Row , a street in London considered the "Golden mile of tailoring".

Bespoke clothing is traditionally cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer, and so differs from ready-to-wear, which is factory made in finished condition and standardised sizes, and from made to measure, which is produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. The opposition of terms did not initially imply that a bespoke garment was necessarily well built, but since the development of ready-to-wear in the beginning of the twentieth century, bespoke clothing is now more expensive and is generally accompanied by a high quality of construction.

Bespoke versus made-to-measure

Between the extremes of bespoke and ready-to-wear, there has existed since the end of the 19th century a "grey area of garments for which the customer was measured, but that were then made up to the closest standard size, often, but by no means always, in a factory.

The distinction made here is between bespoke, created without use of a pre-existing pattern, and made to measure, which alters a standard-sized pattern to fit the customer. Technological change makes this distinction more subtle, since fittings are increasingly required for made-to-measure. A bespoke service may require an individually-cut pattern, which is then kept should further suits be required; made-to-measure measurements are often stored on a computer. Even hand-work, often cited as a benchmark of bespoke, is now increasingly found in made-to-measure garments, while machine-making plays some part in the creation of most bespoke suits.

With a bespoke suit, a pattern is made from scratch based on the client's measurements, often from 20+ measurements. This ensures a precise fit, particularly in the shoulders as well as the posture areas. This custom fit is handy for clients with short or long necks, high or low shoulders, excess girth, high hips, large or flat seats, and more. Made-to-measure cannot adjust for these shapes and slopes.

"Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better."
-  Pat Riley