How to pick your tailor
Different factors will undoubtedly influence what kind of bespoke tailor you end up picking. These include: the type of fit you’re going for, how invested in “tradition” you are, and the amount of money you’re willing to pay.
Excuse the pun but bespoke tailoring isn’t a one-size-fits-all profession. There’s actually a wide spectrum of bespoke tailors – from the most traditional, often Savile Row-trained, on the one hand, to online-only tailors, on the other.
Traditional bespoke tailors
A very traditional bespoke tailor will not only cut your suit at his own cutting table, he’ll create a loosely-stitched version of your suit (sewn together with basting thread) and have you try it on. He’ll then draw markings on it with chalk so he can see where he’ll need to make adjustments later.
Once this is done, he’ll unpick the stitching, make up a new pattern, and have you try it on again. This happens up to 3 times usually, but can go on until the suit is right.
When these fittings are complete, only then will the tailor create your suit – in the sound knowledge that it will fit you perfectly.
If you’re willing to pay for this kind of service, it’s highly recommended. Each suit comes out at around £2,500 to £3,000, but the entire process is something to be savoured. It’s not often one has so much attention lavished on one’s garments.
There aren’t too many traditional bespoke tailors in Bristol today offering a series of basted fittings. Territo on Park Street is one such tailor at 33 Park Street. He’s a little difficult to find because he’s on the first floor, but when you do find him, it’s worth it. Another is Case & Edwards, a bespoke tailor in Redland who performs everything by hand on the premises, including basted fittings.
Non-traditional bespoke tailors
In order to be called “bespoke” today, it’s not required for a tailoring service to do everything by hand or complete the suit on the premises. Nor is the tailor required to do a series of basted fittings.
As long as a suit is made according to the customer’s personal measurements and specifications, it’s generally called “bespoke.” If you’re looking for a series of basted fittings and for your suit to be entirely tailored at the tailor’s premises, you don’t want to work with a non-traditional tailor.
Many modern bespoke tailors allow customers to pick every aspect of their suit’s design. They also take the same number of measurements as a traditional tailor. But when it comes to the actual hand-stitching (or sometimes, machine-stitching) of your suit, they’ll send your details to an overseas tailor who’ll create it at a much lower cost and send it back for a fitting.
Not only does this help the modern bespoke tailor, it provides work for overseas tailors (as long as the work is sourced ethically), and shaves the price off your suit.
Suits produced by these bespoke tailors can be just as well-made and can fit just as well as those made by a traditional tailor, but you don’t get quite the same satisfaction of knowing your suit was made in an authentically “traditional” way. Also, the alterations that can be made to the finished suit are limited somewhat, whereas a traditional bespoke tailor will alter your suit as he goes along (using the basting thread and chalk marker).
Compared to the number of traditional tailors in Bristol, the number of non-traditional bespoke tailors is large. All you have to do is a simple Google search to see that your options are endless. If a tailored suit is being offered for under £1,000, you can probably assume the bespoke tailor is non-traditional.
A Suit That Fits operates a studio in Queen’s Square, collaborating with the Bristol tailor Hayley Harmer to produce bespoke suits at a reasonable price. Once Hayley measures you and helps you design your suit, your individual suit pattern is sent to a tailor in Nepal, who stitches it by hand. Suits begin at £289 (for the most basic), an excellent price for a bespoke suit made to your measurements.