Is Savile Row Just a Big Con?

Obviously, I am going to say "no," otherwise I'm out of a job; but I will elaborate, of course.

I will now detail why a bespoke suit costs as much as it does and how the costs can be broken down to show that you get far more for your money with bespoke than you actually do with off-the-peg.

A Savile Row handmade suit can, and normally does, last the wearer around 6 -10 years. Many wear their suits every week, so I am not talking about it sitting in your wardrobe and only coming out once a year for a wedding. A typical off-the-peg suit has a life span nearer 2 years. This is for a number of reasons, that I will go into detail about in a later blog (or, happily, on request).

A Savile Row handmade suit from me costs around £3,000. If it only lasted the wearer 5 years they would have spent £600 a year on the suit. Someone spending £1000 on a 'handmade' off-the-peg suit may think they are saving themselves money, but if the suit needs replacing after 2 years, then they have spent £500 a year on a suit that is not made to fit them, is in a style that they did not choose, is made from a poorer quality fabric and was made in a far inferior way to the handcrafted Savile Row techniques.

You may point out that there are other tailors out there who offer suits, just not made in Savile Row that are obviously superior to off-the-peg as well; so what makes Savile Row so special?

The gaping difference is that the technique used and the craftsmanship on Savile Row are second to none. For the last 200 years, Savile Row has been the heart of the finest tailoring in the world. This kudos attracts the most highly skilled jacket makers and trouser makers the world over to come and work there.

There are many different ways to make a "bespoke" suit. On Savile Row, the understructure of a suit is made up of layers of canvas and shaped and handsewn specifically for the customer. The shoulder pads are handcrafted specially for the customer; the entire garment is handfinished, right down to the handcrafted button holes. The whole process reguarly takes over 75 hours.

In other establishments, a handmade suit could be anything from:

1) a completely fused front (one layer of canvas glued to the cloth with no stiching at all) and entirely machine made; banged out in a few hours

2) a part-fused, part canvased garment, made on a machine

3) a fully machine canvased garment

Many Savile Row tailors would agree that a factory made suit can be far superior to a poor quality handmade suit. So, just because a suit claims to be handmade, it does not mean that you are getting the quality or value for money that you would hope for. That's not to say that there aren't some excellent non Savile Row tailors as well, but only a genuine Savile Row handmade suit can be guaranteed to be of true handmade quality.

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