Are bespoke Savile Row suits worth the cost?
I’m no stranger to the look of shock on people’s faces when they hear how much it costs to buy a bespoke suit. The next thing they ask is whether bespoke suits from Savile Row are worth the investment. The simple answer is yes. But to really grasp why that's the case, it's essential to understand a few things about bespoke tailoring and Savile Row.
“Bespoke: a suit made on or around Savile Row, bespoken to the customer’s specifications. A bespoke suit is cut by an individual and made by highly skilled individual craftsmen. The pattern is made specifically for the customer and the finished suit will take a minimum of 50 hours of hand work and require a series of fittings.” – Savile Row Bespoke Association.
Firstly, what is bespoke tailoring and is it different to made-to-measure?
Made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring sound like they mean the same thing, and unfortunately, some fashion houses and even some media use the term interchangeably. There are, however, some vital differences between the two.
- Bespoke suits are entirely hand-made, while made-to-measure are machine-made. Machines impose certain restraints on the process, whereas the hand-made process allows bespoke suits to be personalised further.
- When making a bespoke suit, a pattern is created for each client from scratch. The fabric is then hand-cut. It’s like your own blueprint and can't be replicated for anyone else. Made-to-measure, on the other hand, uses existing patterns that are modified to suit the wearer.
- Bespoke suits generally feature a full floating canvas to give the suit a softer, more comfortable feel instead of the fused canvas of a made-to-measure or ready-to-wear suit.
- As you’d expect with something hand-made, bespoke suits take far longer than made-to-measure – anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. You’ll also need to have a few more fittings to make sure it’s just right.
- Bespoke services often provide you with a far more extensive range of fabrics and trims to choose from.
- Hand cutting and hand sewing make bespoke suits look softer, whereas the machine-based process used for made-to-measure suits gives the suit sharper, crisper edges.
The most crucial difference is how a bespoke suit feels. Clients have told us that bespoke suits mould to their body and feel light as air. They take in the nuances of your body shape in a way that no other suit can.
What is Savile Row?
Arguably the world’s most famous menswear destination, this unassuming street in London’s Mayfair houses Britain’s finest tailors. For over two centuries, it has been known as the home of bespoke tailoring. In fact, the word ‘bespoke’ was coined here as the cloth a client chose was said to ‘be spoken for’.
Today you’ll find some of Britain’s oldest tailoring houses sharing the street with talented newcomers (like myself), and the odd international design house.
While made-to-measure and ready-to-wear are now available on Savile Row, if you’re looking for the highest quality bespoke or made to measure suit, there really is nowhere else to go.
Why choose a Savile Row tailor for a bespoke suit?
Three words: quality, experience and style.
On Savile Row, you’ll find the most beautiful suit fabrics in the world. When combined with a lifetime of dedication to the craft - tailors on Savile Row train for years as apprentices, honing their talents on one part of the process or suit before moving on to the next – you’re sure to get an incredible suit that will last you a lifetime.
British tailors (particularly those on Savile Row) also have a distinct style – it’s more formal than others with clean lines, a distinct structure and a close fit, with a nod to their equestrian and military origins. These features separate British suits from the extremely slim-fitting and flamboyant Italian style and the baggier American style.
How much does it cost to have a bespoke suit made in Savile Row?
The price for an authentic bespoke suit will start anywhere upwards of £3,500. When you factor in fabric choices, the cost can be more than $10,000. A bespoke suit from Alexandra Wood, starts from £4,000.
If that sounds steep, you’re not just paying for a piece of fabric. You’re paying for years of tailoring experience, styling know-how, fabric, materials and hours and hours of hand-sewing and finishing. Consider this: how much would you charge your clients or employer for 12 – 16 weeks of your time at work?
*A word of caution: some unscrupulous people market themselves as bespoke tailors when they’re really offering made-to-measure. Before buying from them, ask about their process and if their bespoke suits and patterns are entirely hand-made and hand-cut.
Why invest in a bespoke suit
A bespoke suit is considered essential for the limited few who insist on the 'best of the best'.
For many others, bespoke suits are purchased for a significant moment in their life when they want to look and feel confident such as a graduation, wedding, awards ceremony, or meaningful public speaking engagement. Alternatively, they’re a 'bucket-list item when a gent wants to indulge and enjoy his success and hard work.
We believe that investing in a bespoke suit is a rare and important opportunity to have something made that is truly you. Something that flatters you and reflects your style in a way that no other item of clothing ever will. A bespoke suit has a superior fit that can never be replicated with made-to-measure.
It’s essentially an investment in confidence, style and comfort that will last you for years and years to come.
So, is bespoke tailoring worth the investment?
Of course! Now that you understand what bespoke tailoring is and what it involves, it's easy to see that buying a bespoke suit is an investment in every sense.
The quality craftsmanship will last you a lifetime, and given that the suit is designed to flatter you in every way, it’s likely to be an item of clothing you’ll reach for time and time again.
How do I choose the best Savile Row tailor for my bespoke suit?
Not all tailors are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. Like attracts like so aim to find someone whose ‘house style’ matches your own, whether that’s traditional British or fresh and modern.
The beauty of Savile Row is that there is so much choice; take your time researching the tailors there before making an appointment.
Why choose Alexandra Wood for your bespoke suit?
Having a bespoke suit is a special experience, but that doesn’t mean it has to be stuffy and uncomfortable. Alexandra Wood aims to make the process of having a bespoke suit made fun and relaxed. We take the time to get to know you and your personal style and consider your skin tone, body shape and personality to create a suit that is uniquely yours.
While our roots are firmly planted in the British tailoring tradition of Savile Row, we pride ourselves on a modern approach to tailoring with a bit of bit of flair – whether that’s unusual colour combinations or custom silk linings.