From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Bespoke is employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer's specification. While applied to many items now, from computer software to luxury car appointments, the term historically was only applied to tailored clothing, shirts and other parts of men's apparel involving measurement and fitting.

The distinguishing points of bespoke tailoring are the buyer's total control over the fabric used, the features and fit, and the way the garment should be made. More generally, bespoke describes a high degree of customisation, and involvement of the end-user, in the production of the good.


[edit] Bespoke Clothing

[edit] Meaning of the term

Fitting of a bespoke jacket

The word bespoke itself is derived from the verb to bespeak, to "speak for something", in the specialized meaning "to give order for it to be made".[1] The term bespoke in fashion is reserved for individually patterned and crafted men's clothing, analogous to womens' haute couture, [2] in contrast with mass manufactured ready-to-wear (also called off-the-peg or off-the-rack). While widespread in the United Kingdom, the term is almost unknown in the United States, although it may be used by some in the high-end tailoring business, and by Anglophiles.

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 standardized sizes, and from made-to-measure, produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. This 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,[3] bespoke clothing is now more expensive and is generally accompanied by a high quality of construction.[n 1]

While the distinction conferred by "bespoke" is protected by law in France,[n 2] the British Advertising Standards Authority has ruled it is a fair practice to use the term bespoke for products which do not fully incorporate traditional construction methods.[4] This position is opposed by the Savile Row Bespoke Association, a trade group of traditional tailors.[n 3][5]

[edit] Bespoke versus Made-to-Measure

Between the extremes of bespoke and ready-to-wear has existed, since the end of the nineteenth century,[n 4] 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.".[6] 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.[7] Technological change makes this distinction more subtle, since "fittings are increasingly required for both bespoke and made-to-measure; a bespoke service may require an individually-cut pattern, which is then kept should further suits be required, and now made-to-measure measurements are often stored too, 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".[5]

Renowned New York based designer Craig Robinson defines the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure as, "tradition and personality versus conformity and convention." [8][broken citation]

[edit] Savile Row Bespoke

The Savile Row Bespoke Association is a group of Savile Row tailors who has attempted to set a standard giving minimum requirements for a garment to be allowed to use its trademark.

These standards particularly stress:

  • hand work used almost entirely on all garments, including the "individually cut of a paper pattern";
  • personal service, such as qualified advice, a large selection of fabrics, or the keeping of all records for future orders;
  • involvement by participating houses in an approved training scheme.[9]

The association has also specified twenty-one points addressing specific parts of a suit, each dictating some detail such as the length of inlays, or which seams must be hand stitched.[10]

Yet, the association has not succeeded to establish bespoke as a protected label, comparable to haute couture.

[edit] Advertising Standards Authority ruling

In June 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a British advertising regulator, ruled that an advertisement describing a suit "put into a 'working-frame' where it would be cut and sewn by machine"[11] as a "bespoke suit uniquely made according to your personal measurements & specification" [11] was not breaching the Authority's self proclaimed advertising codes,[12] notably the truthfulness rule,[13] because the use of the term bespoke was not deemed likely to confuse. The ruling was significant in formalising a less traditional definition of bespoke clothing, even though the older distinction with made-to-measure was recognised.

The ruling cited the Oxford English Dictionary definition of bespoke as "made to order", and considered that despite the fact a bespoke suit was "fully hand-made and the pattern cut from scratch, with an intermediary baste stage which involved a first fitting so that adjustments could be made to a half-made suit",[11] while a suit made-to-measure "would be cut, usually by machine, from an existing pattern, and adjusted according to the customer's measurements",[11] "both fully bespoke and made-to-measure suits were "made to order" in that they were made to the customer's precise measurements and specifications, unlike off-the-peg suits".[11]

Some, such as the etymologist Michael Quinion, considered the ruling showed that "the historic term of art had moved on".[14] Some others concluded that "bespoke tailoring has traditionally, if unofficially, meant something more than the dictionary definition allows"[5] and that the ASA "took a rather ignorant decision to declare that there is no difference between bespoke and made-to-measure."[15]

[edit] Other uses

Once a fashion industry-specific term, bespoke is increasingly being applied to custom specification in other industries, including:

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ In article published in Textile History (Volume 34, Number 2, November 2003 , pp. 192-213. Ready-to-wear or Made-to-measure? Consumer Choice in the British Menswear Trade) Laura Ugolini concluded that "interested and well-informed male consumers generally preferred to buy bespoke suits : while usually more expensive than their ready-made counterparts, these were also perceived to be better quality, better looking, and better value, and therefore most likely to enhance the wearer's sense of self-worth as a manly, discerning and successful consumer".
  2. ^ A certain number of formal criteria, including the design for private customers with one or more fittings, must be met for a fashion house to use the label and a list of eligible houses is made official every year by the French Ministry of Industry.
  3. ^ The tailor Richard Anderson wrote an article in the Telegraph to explain that "the ASA has got the ruling wrong" (Anderson, Richard (2008-06-18). "Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson: bespoke must mean bespoke". The Telegraph. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. ).
  4. ^ In 1895, the Leeds Factory Clothing Co. veered between calling itself "manufacturing clothiers" and "bespoke tailors" (cf. Benson, John (2003). A Nation of Shopkeepers: Five Centuries of British Retailing. Houghton Mifflin Cookbooks. p. 102. ISBN 1860647081. ).

[edit] References

  1. ^ Bailey, Nathan (1756). An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. R. Ware.
  2. ^ Art of Textile Designing. Global Media. ISBN 8189940031
  3. ^ Ugolini, Laura (2003). Men and Menswear: Sartorial Consumption in Britain 1880-1939, p.181. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0754603849
  4. ^ Cockroft, Lucy (2008-06-19). "Savile Row tailors lose fight to preserve the term bespoke". The Telegraph. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  5. ^ a b c Sim, Josh (2008-07-12). "The b-word: not cut and dried". Financial Times. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  6. ^ Benson, John (2003). A Nation of Shopkeepers: Five Centuries of British Retailing, p.102. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1860647081
  7. ^ Norton, Kate (2006-10-31). "Savile Row Never Goes Out of Style". BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 2007-05-22. 
  8. ^ Details, April, 2006
  9. ^ Savile Row Bespoke Association. "Craftsmanship". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  10. ^ Savile Row Bespoke Association. "Garment specifications". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Advertising Standards Authority (2008-06-18). "Sartoriani London". ASA Adjudications. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. 
  12. ^ Advertising Standards Authority. "About the Advertising Standards Authority". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  13. ^ Advertising Standards Authority. "The CAP Code: truthfulness rule". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
  14. ^ Quinion, Michael (2008-09-13). "Bespoke". World Wide Words. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. 
  15. ^ Crompton, Simon (2008-07-01). "A loss to (sartorial) language". Men's Flair. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 
Personal tools