One of many questions that people have, and seem to be looking for answers to, is the difference between bespoke and made to measure. Now whether it is in context to shirts, suiting or any type of apparel to footwear or in our case, outerwear; it’s without a doubt that this distinction between two processes have become confusing over time and debatable, mainly due to their inaccurate usage.
With regards to marketing or any other aspect catered to, by various individuals, groups and companies, businesses that often highlight the featuring of bespoke, don’t always offer the same as the elements of the process differ from the original. This is where we step in and clear up this long debated subject by providing simple and memorable points that sharply differentiate between the two.
As the name suggests, bespoke; meaning to give order for it to be made, commissioned or arranged for, is a term used specifically for a tailored process that offers the highest form of customization that is as exclusive as the process itself. Gradually being diminished somehow, in value and exclusivity, thanks to many people and places that use the word incorrectly, little is being done to save it. Many have used the term to make an impression while others have only sought monetary gain, still others who are simply unaware of the correct use of the term, leaves the authenticity of this process to remain compromised. Not us!
For the simplest understanding we’ll dissect this six step process and highlight the differences as we go along.
Moving in no particular order, pattern making is usually the first or one of the first three points you will notice when going for bespoke. While made to measure orders are carried out on an already existing pattern, or one that is tweaked as per person. This is often a standard or general set of measures based on an average person, bespoke on the other hand; offers a ‘start from scratch’ element that many find fascinating especially first timers. This is because bespoke patterns not only are made exclusively for each and every individual, the set of measurements too are double if not more than the measurements used for made to measure. This ensures a perfect fit which is evident in all bespoke products.
While a made to measure product may fit well in an ideal scenario, a bespoke product always fits perfectly…like a glove! Another interesting and valid point regarding pattern making and bespoke is that every single change made by the individual is re-cut or in other words remade to reflect a revised version of the product. This can be time consuming and so, is skipped in all made to measure products. In other words, bespoke enables for any number of changes big or small which is adjusted each time, while made to measure is a one-time component.
While fabric selection is somewhat common in both bespoke and made to measure, bespoke allows for more options as many places offer an exclusive if not additional range of fabric options as opposed to made to measure which has one standard range that is curated for all. These points gel well with colour selection as well as design customization which we shall cover next.
By this we refer to all design elements that are used within the product that is either edited or added as per individual requirement. While bespoke offers an open field for edits, additions, subtractions, details and even adornments, made to measure draws a line at what is possible and what is not. Made to measure design customization may allow you to choose the number of buttons, pockets, cuffs etc. used within the product but nothing more. Bespoke allows you to incorporate anything you’d like from physical features to details and adornments. The same goes for colour which moves simultaneously with design as well as fabric selection.
Made in House
This is an important point and a fact that creates an evident divide between bespoke and made to measure. While all bespoke products are made in house from start to finish. Including all stops and turns of the process to be handled and managed within one place, makes this one of the defining points that separates the two. Made to measure however, is often found to involve quite a lot of outsourcing as time is of the essence in a factory themed process.
This especially applies to shirts and suits. Multiple fittings are required for a bespoke product to achieve its status of perfection. A number that varies from product to product based on type and style. Typically a bespoke suit would require three fittings before it reaches the final stage. However made to measure products only require one instead of three or more. Often the person can pick-up the product after the first fitting.
Last yet definitely not least is the element that takes into account all the time that is spent on the product, craftsmen used, changes, edits and more. Bespoke would understandably have much of this reflected in the cost which is much higher than made to measure.
Did you know that made to measure traditionally, has two different types? These would be full made to measure and half made to measure.
Full Made to Measure
Simply put, the defining element of this type of made to measure begins from the pattern making stage where the pattern is measured inch to inch of the person based also on posture. This is done for accuracy, fit and balance. There are four balance issues to be dealt with here, two of which are really important. One being a vertical balance which is the relationship of the front and back from the shoulders downwards. The second important one being a horizontal balance, which is a relation between the front and back based on circumference. The two minor ones are based on the relation between left and right as well as the angle of the shoulders for e.g. regular, square or sloped. Without these points, the process cannot be considered as full made to measure. Even if the other elements such as construction and design elements as well as choice of fabric is found present.
Half Made to Measure
This calls for a similar undertaking as the previous point but in a reduced manner. Whether dealing with vertical and horizontal balance, construction and design elements or the choice of fabric. Pattern making especially based on posture is greatly reduced in terms of detail as mentioned above. Constructing the actual product as well as incorporating design elements are also greatly reduced to a minimum or very basic module. While full made to measure allows some freedom to edit design options, half made to measure has a restriction to this set of points.
Modernizing Made to Measure
Modern day technology is being used to redefine made to measure which is probably another reason why the gap between bespoke and made to measure has grown relatively thin, adding to the confusion between people as to which is which. Whether through 3d scanners that help in achieving reliable and quick measurements to pre-programmed patterns as well as 3d and 2d simulations that help in accomplishing measure, colour, design and texture of fabrics for each individual. While this computerized medium may seem like a blessing in disguise it may instead grow to mimic bespoke which in turn will further confuse many as never before.