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Since there isn't anything more delightful in the sartorial world than a perfectly fit bespoke masterpiece and nothing more frustrating than a bespoke experience gone bad...

I think it would be good to have those who've gone bespoke and those who make bespoke cobble together a list of do's and don'ts.

I'll start off with a generality. 100 years ago or even 30 years ago most bespoke makers dealt with local clients and those who frequently visited their area. Today tailors travel and many of their customers have over a million butt-in-seat frequent flier miles. For a tailor you can drop in and visit every week it is easier to work together toward a successful conclusion and things were often done on a handshake. Among many bespoke makers things like contracts are unheard of due to the historical tradition of things being done on a handshake between gentlemen.

Some suggestions for the buyer:
1. Start small. It is better to order one suit and make sure that it turns out properly before ordering 6. Some makers have a minimum and that is fine - but make it clear that garment 2 through X depend on garment 1.

2. Make sure you spell out every detail. After 6-12 months you can ask two people what they agreed to and both could tell an entirely different story yet both would pass a polygraph and feel certain that they were telling the truth.

3. Understand when payment is due and be on time with payment.

4. Very often a customer will ask a tailor to do a style they like that the tailor is not practiced in. This is not a show-stopper if a tailor and customer have worked together before and can sit down and plan the piece together and it can be a lot of fun. What I am saying is that if you want a Nicolosi you don't go to Fioravanti and vice versa. I am of the opinion that most good tailors CAN do anything but do 'their thing' much better. It makes sense to find someone who does the look you want or else you make it a special project with a tailor you have worked with a great deal.

5. Participate in the process, keep the original notes and if they change during the process then record and agree to the changes. If the tailor was supposed to do one thing and did it wrong it is on the tailor to fix it. If the tailor did what you asked for and you change your mine then offer to pay for the change when you change the goal. If things are not as you would like explain why and allow the tailor every reasonable opportunity to make it right and have patience. Your tailor knows what you said - he can't see the picture in your mind's eye.

6. Ask questions at every stage. Smart questions, dumb questions, insightful questions and other questions.

7. Treat your tailor with respect. If you don't respect his artistry you should not be using him. If you do, you should show him some respect and listen to him - especially if you are new to bespoke because your tailor can best advise you. Show up for appointments, give notice if you must cancel and don't leave your tailor waiting to meet you.

The maker should:

1. Be able to explain the process, timeframe, costs and other relevant details. For reasons mentioned above these expectations should be put down in writing and agreed to. It should also be made clear that the timeframe will depend on some things. A garment might come in near perfect on the first try-on and be perfect at the next one. It may take 3-4 fittings to get things right. Communicate this and if tailor and client only see one another every 3-6 months this can be a long process. That is bad if the expectation is not set.

2. Be accountable for delivering a garment that the customer is well pleased with. If you can't reach agreement on the first garment then the rest of the order should be called off, deposits returned and everyone can walk away. It is better to spell out these terms before the first piece of cloth meets the shears. Define when money has been 'spent' in the process. It is unfair to ask a tailor to give a full refund on a garment that is not quite perfect to the customer assuming that the tailor has made no overt mistakes - once they have spent money on cloth and their tailors they can't do it. On the other hand if the customer isn't happy any money NOT spent should be returned. The details are unimportant, what is important is that the monetary terms are understood and agreed upon before a dispute comes up.

3. Perhaps the toughest one: Don't take on more business than you can keep up with. This is a very difficult proposition for every small business - in the short term it feels like passing a kidney stone to put a moratorium on new work until caught up but sometimes you just have to. As a business grows there are points where what worked before no longer works and you have to pause to get some help and infrastructure in place before continuing to grow. Being reachable and responsive to 10 customers is easy - with 100 it is hard and with 200 it requires help and an entirely different sort of organization/administration. Once you fall behind, you're dead.

It makes me very sad to see the problems posted on another thread today on a number of levels.

Anxious to hear from some of our custom makers how they define the process, how they document it and how they think it ought to work.
My list above is obviously from the perspective of a bespoke customer trying to be fair and objective - it probably needs a good dose of a maker's frustrations to balance it out.

At the end of the day when a tailor and client have a good working relationship it is a wonderful thing. Getting there might be a little more difficult in this day and age when most standards and rules are based on a model no longer used.

Anyway - my goal here is to come up with a set of good guidelines that a first time bespoke customer can print off and take with him when he goes to commission that first bespoke suit and have that 'tip sheet' make life easier for the tailor they visit. Seems to me a worthwhile endeavor.

www.carlofranco.com
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I know this is an old post that I have resurfaced but its the closest thing I could find in AAAC to the question I have. Which is: what are the customary payment terms for a bespoke suit made on the Row? Specifically, what percentage of the total price will the tailor ask for up front and what percentage, if any, will he ask for as "progress payments"? How much does the tailor allow the customer to hold back to insure satisfactory completion? Are there any rules of thumb? Hoping these questions are not found too far out of line by the cognoscenti...
 

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I have never done bespoke and as such I would like to start from the selection of fabric. I realize that most tailors will have a large selection of cloth available, but i would like to know what it is that the more experience members look for when selecting cloth. If they were to purchase their own cloth what would be the selection process;

1. Should you be able to see through the fabric?

2. Do you look for certain qualities at certain weights?

3. Is there some type of pull or stretch test conducted to determine fullness or resilience?

4. Is there something you feel for in determining the hand of the cloth, ie softness, smoothness in texture?
 

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I do the scrunch test with fabric...grab it in your fist and squeeze, if it stays wrinkled it stays on the shelf...

As far as payment, I guess I'm lucky and one of the few who use a bespoke maker in my neighborhood. Because of this, deposits and payments are never mentioned, and I pay when I pick up...sometimes the tailor does put my stuff on the back burner (as I'm in every week, sometimes twice a week)...but I'm patient, and know he goes above and beyond for me by getting me the best price.
 

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Bouncing this back up in the hopes of getting an answer to my question,

Which is: what are the customary payment terms for a bespoke suit made on the Row? Specifically, what percentage of the total price will the tailor ask for up front and what percentage, if any, will he ask for as "progress payments"? How much does the tailor allow the customer to hold back to insure satisfactory completion?
 

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I know this is an old post that I have resurfaced but its the closest thing I could find in AAAC to the question I have. Which is: what are the customary payment terms for a bespoke suit made on the Row? Specifically, what percentage of the total price will the tailor ask for up front and what percentage, if any, will he ask for as "progress payments"? How much does the tailor allow the customer to hold back to insure satisfactory completion? Are there any rules of thumb? Hoping these questions are not found too far out of line by the cognoscenti...
It varies but fairly common is half with order and half after delivery for new customers.

Several firms offer a discount for payment in advance. Most will bill the entire amount afterwards to established customers.
 

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In my experiance on the row they ask for 50%. partial payments have never been asked for or negotiated with myself when I worked there although directors or managers may have cut deals. Then again to do this you probably should be royalty.

Bouncing this back up in the hopes of getting an answer to my question,

Which is: what are the customary payment terms for a bespoke suit made on the Row? Specifically, what percentage of the total price will the tailor ask for up front and what percentage, if any, will he ask for as "progress payments"? How much does the tailor allow the customer to hold back to insure satisfactory completion?
 

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Can anyone recommend which tailor on Savile Row is the most flexible with their customer's requests?... e.g. able to deviate from house style or use unique fabrics?

I'm going to be starting out as an attorney soon and was thinking maybe it would be more economical and less nerve-wracking if I just put down ~$5,000 USD to get the perfect suit, and then have it be my one garment for the rest of my entire career (the next 40 years). I was told a heavy, well-constructed jacket will last a lifetime, right? Besides having it look perfect, I really want something perfectly comfortable, since I'll likely have to wear a jacket at my desk and not just at court. To me, this combo makes my otherwise thrifty nature surmise that it's better to go Savile Row than scrounge through 10 or 15 MTM's through my career. I was hoping I could get some sort of special stretchy and waterproof fabric for the suit, for ultimate comfort and durability respectively.
 

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While I'm not an attorney, I don't understand how one could go through life with only one suit, and wear that one suit for decades. One needs to have at least one other suit, so that one can switch between the two and reduce wear on both of them, just as one would do with shoes.

I don't really think I could possibly manage without at least three suits, not including evening wear.
 

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While I'm not an attorney, I don't understand how one could go through life with only one suit, and wear that one suit for decades. One needs to have at least one other suit, so that one can switch between the two and reduce wear on both of them, just as one would do with shoes.

I don't really think I could possibly manage without at least three suits, not including evening wear.
I realize that's the conventional opinion here, but I don't agree with it. Lots of lawyers I know have only 1 suit. I'd rather have just one really nice suit than 3 so-so MTM or lesser bespokes for mere 'stylish variety'. A heavy Savile Row suit needs to be able to last a lifetime for me to think it's worth buying. I'm a bit morally hesitant to put down $5k for a suit, that's just me, even though I should be able to easily afford it in the future. I know most people here would spend whatever tens of thousands of dollars/pounds on dozens of suits... but that just seems a bit hedonistic to me... same goes for nice cars.

Assuming it can stand up to the wear, would it be a hygienic problem? I don't sweat that much, and if i'm wearing and undershirt beneath the dress shirt, it's hard to imagine the jacket getting too beat up. I might need to get two trousers though....
 

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Can anyone recommend which tailor on Savile Row is the most flexible with their customer's requests?... e.g. able to deviate from house style or use unique fabrics?

I'm going to be starting out as an attorney soon and was thinking maybe it would be more economical and less nerve-wracking if I just put down ~$5,000 USD to get the perfect suit, and then have it be my one garment for the rest of my entire career (the next 40 years). I was told a heavy, well-constructed jacket will last a lifetime, right? Besides having it look perfect, I really want something perfectly comfortable, since I'll likely have to wear a jacket at my desk and not just at court. To me, this combo makes my otherwise thrifty nature surmise that it's better to go Savile Row than scrounge through 10 or 15 MTM's through my career. I was hoping I could get some sort of special stretchy and waterproof fabric for the suit, for ultimate comfort and durability respectively.
How often will you be wearing the suit if it is your only one? If you wear it only once a week it will last a while. While it may be more durable, a heavy suit will only get you through part of the year. Stretchy and waterproof aren't attributes of a good suit. A good suit should be all wool. It doesn't need to stretch to be comfortable and you should get a raincoat for rain. The only fabrics that stretch and are waterproof are synthetics, and I doubt that any Savile Row tailor would touch those. And a heavy suit with synthetic fibres will make you uncomfortable warm because little heat will escape.
 

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I realize that's the conventional opinion here, but I don't agree with it. Lots of lawyers I know have only 1 suit. I'd rather have just one really nice suit than 3 so-so MTM or lesser bespokes for mere 'stylish variety'. A heavy Savile Row suit needs to be able to last a lifetime for me to think it's worth buying. I'm a bit morally hesitant to put down $5k for a suit, that's just me, even though I should be able to easily afford it in the future. I know most people here would spend whatever tens of thousands of dollars/pounds on dozens of suits... but that just seems a bit hedonistic to me... same goes for nice cars.

Assuming it can stand up to the wear, would it be a hygienic problem? I don't sweat that much, and if i'm wearing and undershirt beneath the dress shirt, it's hard to imagine the jacket getting too beat up. I might need to get two trousers though....
Two trousers is a must. You will need another suit for those times when you need to send your suit to the cleaners. I don't think a heavy Savile Row suit will last a lifetime if it is worn every day. Whether you chose to believe it or not, natural fibres need to rest. That rest will give the suit many more wears.
 

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At bare minimum, you could probably get away with 2 of everything.
2 suits (Charcoal and Solid Navy)
2 odd jackets
2 odd pants
2 pairs of shoes (Black Captoe Balmoral, Brown Balmoral of your choice)
2 coats (1 raincoat, 1 overcoat)

If you really want, you can eliminate the need for odd pants and jackets and use the suits interchangeably, but that's usually not recommended (though I do it every now and then).


Is there any specific reason you need to go bespoke? If you truly can't find anything that fits, then go bespoke. If you want the prestige of having a suit made exactly for your body, then go for it.

However, as far as I've heard, most first bespoke garments are usually "rough drafts" for future garments meaning that the first suit is never perfect. As far as what I've read here and on StyleForum, most bespoke suits aren't "perfect" until the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th suit. So if that's the case, then your $5000 won't really get you your "perfect suit" anyway.

For $5000 you can get several very well fitting RTW suits from very respectable companies.
 

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This is a complete myth. While there are examples of Savile Row suits lasting a lifetime the people that own them tend to have quite a few other Savile Row suits in there wardrobe. Also I know we hear that it wasn't just the rich that had clothes that lasted longer but the middle and lower classes at one time would patch suits or wear them in conditions we would not in this day and age.

You need a minimum of 3 suits I think. In 10 years get another 3 if your going Savile Row and using durable cloth.

Can anyone recommend which tailor on Savile Row is the most flexible with their customer's requests?... e.g. able to deviate from house style or use unique fabrics?

I'm going to be starting out as an attorney soon and was thinking maybe it would be more economical and less nerve-wracking if I just put down ~$5,000 USD to get the perfect suit, and then have it be my one garment for the rest of my entire career (the next 40 years). I was told a heavy, well-constructed jacket will last a lifetime, right? Besides having it look perfect, I really want something perfectly comfortable, since I'll likely have to wear a jacket at my desk and not just at court. To me, this combo makes my otherwise thrifty nature surmise that it's better to go Savile Row than scrounge through 10 or 15 MTM's through my career. I was hoping I could get some sort of special stretchy and waterproof fabric for the suit, for ultimate comfort and durability respectively.
 

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This is a complete myth. While there are examples of Savile Row suits lasting a lifetime the people that own them tend to have quite a few other Savile Row suits in there wardrobe. Also I know we hear that it wasn't just the rich that had clothes that lasted longer but the middle and lower classes at one time would patch suits or wear them in conditions we would not in this day and age.

You need a minimum of 3 suits I think. In 10 years get another 3 if your going Savile Row and using durable cloth.
David, I was going to post this in response to Mr. Svenn's post #9, but your post clearly illuminates the problems inherent in his assertions. Considering his post in its entirety, I believe, with all due respect, that Mr. Svenn was pulling our collective legs. His cleverly constructed assemblage of contradictions and impossibilities, which create his Magic Suit, is too ironically perfect to be sheer accident. Despite the best efforts of the world's finest tailors, The Perfect Suit can exist only in the mind of the gentleman who wishes to possess it.
 

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David, I was going to post this in response to Mr. Svenn's post #9, but your post clearly illuminates the problems inherent in his assertions. Considering his post in its entirety, I believe, with all due respect, that Mr. Svenn was pulling our collective legs. His cleverly constructed assemblage of contradictions and impossibilities, which create his Magic Suit, is too ironically perfect to be sheer accident. Despite the best efforts of the world's finest tailors, The Perfect Suit can exist only in the mind of the gentleman who wishes to possess it.
I wasn't trying to pull anyone's leg mate :icon_smile_wink:, I'm not nearly as clever as you imply... I'm a true simpleton in fact.

If indeed it's true that the 'lifetime' suit is a myth, then I guess I'll just go the route of several nice MTMs... but I was really hoping the lifetime durability attribute of S.Row was true so I could justify in my mind putting down that large sum of $.... plus I do appreciate the style for its own sake. My one suit experience so far has been one ill-fitting MTM that I can't even sit at my desk with it on without severe restriction of movement. I'm shocked that $5k isn't enough to get a perfect fit, that it takes up to 3 suits before that can be attained. I know it might be blasphemy to some, but is there a synthetic substitute for 100% wool that would be perhaps more durable?
 

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Svenn, a very well made suit of sturdy fabric can last a very, very long time, but it certainly requires proper care. Part of proper care is letting the garment rest between wearings, so that moisture and other foriegn material can evaporate and/or fall out of the fabric. Trying to get by with one suit (unless you wear a suit less than one day a week) is a recipe for chewing up that suit in a trice.

There is a huge range of quality in MTM, but the best MTM will have no difference in terms of quality and durability with bespoke. What you want is hand work and sturdy traditional construction... durability won't change based on whether the tailor altered measurements on a block or cut an entirely new pattern for you.

No, there's really nothing that's more durable than wool... certainly nothing that would be remotely acceptable for business wear. My personal experience has been the microfiber and other "modern miracle" substances are substantiallyless long-lived than an old fashioned worsted wool fabric.

Having one "perfect" suit is not bad idea, but variety is the spice of life. One top-notch suit and a handfull of less perfect, less expensive suits is not a bad strategy. Get the "perfect" suit in a solid navy or gray, because that's what you'll want for the most important suit-wearing-times in your life (and because, without a pattern to distract the eye, all that the suit shows is fit and construction), then get some other suits to fill in as much of a rotation as you need.
 

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I do disagree that it takes 2 or more suits at that kind of level to get a "perfect fit". Perhaps this notion comes from the idea that it takes a couple of suits made to get the perfect suit for the client? I do believe this is a fair assumption. You can expect a suit to fit you well but a tailor can't read your mind, there's going to be little nuances and things that you like or don't like that the first commision may not address. I have been having suits made since I was 18 at a rate of about 2-3 a year and I am still improving and changing things up, but then again my tastes change as well.

This does bring up an interesting issue though. Your first suit should" fit correctly" but if you ask for something in a vague way like slim trousers and you get them and you think they are too slim although they fit it's a sticky wicket as to who is a fault.

I wasn't trying to pull anyone's leg mate :icon_smile_wink:, I'm not nearly as clever as you imply... I'm a true simpleton in fact.

If indeed it's true that the 'lifetime' suit is a myth, then I guess I'll just go the route of several nice MTMs... but I was really hoping the lifetime durability attribute of S.Row was true so I could justify in my mind putting down that large sum of $.... plus I do appreciate the style for its own sake. My one suit experience so far has been one ill-fitting MTM that I can't even sit at my desk with it on without severe restriction of movement. I'm shocked that $5k isn't enough to get a perfect fit, that it takes up to 3 suits before that can be attained. I know it might be blasphemy to some, but is there a synthetic substitute for 100% wool that would be perhaps more durable?
 

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I wish the OP luck in using his perfect suit for that length of time, because he will need to maintain a "perfect body" as well. I can no longer wear the same sizes as 30-40 years ago, but I know some can. They are in the minority, I believe.
 
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