Bespoke vs Custom – What is the Difference?

Posted in Style Knowledge

POSTED BY: AASHIF JAMANI

Though made to measure, custom, and bespoke tailoring are all vastly different, the terms are often used interchangeably. Luckily, we can help you sort out these terms and get a whole new handle on the world of tailoring.

The Difference Between Bespoke vs Custom Suits, King & Bay

  • Bespoke tailoring is generally considered the gold standard of men's tailoring, made precisely to your specifications by a master tailor, with most of the work done by hand.
    Aashif Jamani, Master Clothier

When you first enter the world of custom menswear, there’s a lot to take in. There are so many different types of tailoring with a lot of new lingo to pick up.

Since so many of tailoring terms are misused, it can be almost impossible to get a good grasp on specific definitions. Though made to measure, custom, and bespoke tailoring are all vastly different, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Luckily, we can help you sort out these terms and get a whole new handle on the world of tailoring.

Made-To-Measure (MTM)

Made to measure is what usually comes to mind when people think of tailoring—a basic or standard pattern which is then fitted to the measurements of the person who ordered it. It's favoured over a typical “off the rack” style because it fits more intuitively. When you order something made to measure, the pattern itself is altered to tailor to your measurements. Once the suit (or other garment) finished, you'll probably try it on one more time to make any final adjustments, and be on your way. Many suit shops employ this method more broadly, so customers can wander in off the street, choose an already made suit, and have it fitted on the spot. You might also find people use the term made to measure interchangeably with “personal tailoring.”

Though made to measure tends to be more expensive than off the rack clothing, there's no denying that it fits better. The price itself will vary depending on your chosen fabric. Though popular, made to measure tailoring isn’t perfect. Some prefer to pass on made to measure suits because they are still based on a pattern, which can assume more general or standard measurements

Custom Tailoring

Custom tailoring, as anyone who's made use of it will tell you, is incomparable when it comes to fit. From its initial design, flexibility and customization can be seen in every detail. Like other kinds of tailoring, rigorous calculations (sometimes more than 20 or 30 different measurements) are made to ensure a perfect fit, with more alterations to follow.

Custom tailoring also ensures a high level of individuality, meaning you can choose from a wide variety of cuffs and collars, lapels and buttons, pockets, fabrics, and more based on a wide selection of high quality goods.

Once all the details have been chosen, a pattern will be made for your suit (or suits, if you want more than one) and a garment will be designed and constructed from that. As with all other forms of tailoring, final adjustments will be made as needed.

Bespoke Tailoring

Bespoke tailoring is generally considered the gold standard of men's tailoring, made precisely to your specifications by a master tailor, with most of the work done by hand. What makes bespoke different than many other kinds of custom tailoring is that you have total control over fabrics, fit, and even features like lapel shape. You'll find that a lot of details are done with a hand finish, making each piece unique and crafted with care.

However, it is a great deal more expensive than the average suit because a pattern is made specifically for you, instead of working off of a preexisting one.

Historically, bespoke suits weren't that much different than made to measure, but the distinction has been solidified as customization and fine crafting have become more of a luxury. Make sure to work it into your budget!


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