The Real Silk Myth

There is a wrongly held myth that us Savile Row Tailors line our suits in pure silk.

The truth is that while we sometimes do, it is the exception rather than the rule.

So, why is it that we don't use pure silk, when surely we only use the finest materials for our bespoke jackets?

The main reason is not cost, or lack of integrity, but simply one of practicality. The lining in a bespoke suit is there for two reasons, to hide the layers of canvas that creates the structure of the suit and secondly to allow us to slip easily in and out of the garment.

Silk, whilst a lot silkier than most fibres, doesn't afford the same level of 'slide' than more modern materials do.

But the main reason, is that silk is a phenomenally good insulator. If you have ever worn a silk shirt, you will notice that, in comparison to a cotton one, it is a lot warmer to wear.

In the past, when central heating was not around, homes and offices were a lot colder than they are today. People wore clothing considerably heavier than the average weight of cloth we use nowadays. In this environment, silk linings would have provided welcome extra warmth to the wearer.

Most of my customers are looking for lighter, more comfortable clothes and lining their bespoke suits in silk would only defeat the object.

So, if we don't use silk, what do we use?


There are essentially two types of man made fibre that are used in making fabric. Those that are derived from oil, like polyesters and nylons. And those that are created from cellulose (wood pulp/plant tissue).

It is the former, the polyesters and the nylons, that make the cheap linings that are found in lower classes of tailoring and the ready to wear market. It is these linings that breathe badly, causing you to feel sweaty and hot. It is also these materials that cause static and wear badly.

All the bespoke suits I make, and the jackets from the better houses in Savile Row, are lined with fabric made from fibres of natural origin. Yes, the materials are man-made, but there is a big difference in the quality (and the price). These materials breathe well, slip well, are light and strong and don't over insulate in the way pure silk does.

As I said earlier, we do use silk, but usually in overcoats, or if a customer wants a winter suit, but doesn't want to wear a cloth too thick and heavy.

One of the benefits of using a high end tailor, is the knowledge and experience they have, not just in cutting, and fitting, but also to help guide your choice of cloth and lining. If you're investing in bespoke clothing, the inside is just as important as the outside.

Any questions, just ask.

William


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you list the names of the fabric you DO use (cellulose based)? Also, each cellulose lining type must have individual pro and cons. Can you list what they would be and why you choose certain fabrics for distinct cases.