Made to Measure FINAL suit one's taste

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BY CHARLES OBERDORF                                 Made-to-Measure
                                                      Many men are drawn to the idea of owning a made-to-measure suit, but
                                                      find themselves faced with questions. What exactly are the benefits? Precisely
                                                      what is involved in the made-to-measure process? Allow us to explain.
                          PHOTOGRAPHY, CHRIS WOOD

                                                                                                                           Fall/Winter ’02 ( 33
                                                                                                                                                          M A D E -T O - M E A S U R E O P T I O N S
                                                                                                                                                          Our customers can order made-to-measure garments from an
                                                                                                                                                          extraordinary selection of world-leading designers.

                                                                                                                                                          Armani Collezioni
                                                                                                                                                          Armani was the first of the major fashion makers to offer made-
                                                                                                                                                          to-measure mens’ suits. Visibly sumptuous fabrics that hang
                                                                                                                                                          beautifully, and very comfortably, on the body are the hallmark.
                                                                                                                                                          As one Harry Rosen executive put it, “Mr. Armani made the double-
                                                                                                                                                          breasted jacket into a sweater.” Delivery time: four to six weeks.

                                                                                                                                                          Founded in 1945 by partners Nazareno Fonticoli, a tailor, and
                                                                                                                                                          Gaetano Savini, a buyer and public relations man experienced in
                                                                                                                                                          sales, the company was named for a pre-World War 2 resort island
                                                                                                                                                          in the Adriatic near Trieste, a playground for the rich and famous.
                                                                                                                                                          Today, its made-to-measure garments come from the town of
                                                                                                                                                          Penne, in Abruzzi, where all cutting, basting and buttonholes are
                                                                                                                                                          still done by hand. Orders are from eight to ten weeks.

                                                                                                                                                          Coppley is a Canadian manufacturer of high-quality tailored
                                                                                                                                                          menswear noted for contemporary styling and exceptional value.
                              3                                                                                                                           Coppley’s speciality is producing made-to-measure garments
                                                                                                                                                          extraordinarily swiftly – often in as little as three weeks.
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                                                                                                                                                          The name comes from the ancient Greek chiton, the basic Athenian

                                                                                                                                                          garment in classical times. The founder of the firm, Signor Kiton,
                                                                                                                                                          was actually a Neapolitan named Ciro Paone. Kiton does bespoke
                                        man walks into a Harry Rosen store to buy            would fit them well. What appeals to these men is the        tailoring in Naples, and its tailor-made garments bear the hallmarks    service. Our in-house tailors can work more magic than

(PREVIOUS PAGE) CLIENT AND                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     STYLING OPTIONS – QUESTIONS
                              a suit. He’s in no hurry today. He has time to browse,         vastly wider range of fabrics available – fabrics from the                                                                           most people think with a ready-to-wear suit. Seams on the

SALES ASSOCIATE FIRST                                                                                                                                     of its style, most notably softly rounded shoulders with hardly any                                                                  OF VENTS, POCKETS AND
DISCUSS FABRIC WEIGHTS AND    to consider his options. Arrayed before him is an              finest Italian and English makers – and the chance to        padding, a close-to-the-body fit and the most luxurious of fabrics.     jacket can be opened, adjusted and re-sewn with relative     OTHER DETAILS – ARE
COLOURS USING AN ASSORT-      extraordinary choice of garments created by the                customize details they can’t find in ready-to-wear. Above    Kiton can deliver in between eight to ten weeks.                        ease – to raise the collar, for example, or compensate for   DISCUSSED WITH THE CLIENT.
MENT OF FABRIC BOOKS          world’s finest menswear designers, many of which               all, they appreciate the opportunity to see their own                                                                                either slumping or high, square shoulders. Tailors at        MANY CUSTOMERS FEEL MORE
PRODUCED BY THE FINEST        tempt him to linger and look more closely. But our man         taste perfectly reflected in the clothes they wear.          J.P. Tilford by Samuelsohn                                              Harry Rosen routinely recut trousers for men with small      CONFIDENT ABOUT THEIR
ITALIAN AND ENGLISH MILLS.    wants something more. He wants a suit that is his and              Young clients especially seem to enjoy making the        Founded in 1923 by Polish émigré Lesser Samuelson, the family           waists or bottoms, correcting the balance of the pants.      STYLING DECISIONS WHEN
                              his alone, with details styled to his own particular taste,    appointment, meeting their chosen sales associate,           firm continues to provide canvas-basted garments (allowing them            But there are limits to what can be done. Ready-to-       THEY CAN SEE OR TRY ON A
(PREVIOUS PAGE) TWO           a suit made in a fabric and colour that he has chosen          selecting cloth. One reason may be a pendulum-swing          to move and adapt to a man’s shape) in the bespoke tradition.           wear suits are made to fit The Average Man, someone          READY-TO-WEAR JACKET.
ASSOCIATES FROM OUR           himself and that fits him not just well, but perfectly.        back away from casual Fridays – some brokerage houses        Made exclusively for Harry Rosen, the J.P. Tilford by Samuelsohn        who has, in Harry’s words, “normal abnormalities.”

BLOOR STREET STORE            What he wants is a suit that is made to measure.               now explicitly require “suitable business attire” five       collection is our most popular made-to-measure line, renowned for       Not every customer has the posture or physique to            TO GET THE MOST EXACT
DEMONSTRATE THE PROCESS.         The great menswear houses – such names as Brioni,           days a week. But Harry himself finds that “either-or”        its quality, prized for its clean-cut look and available in a wide      meet that description. Then again, it may be that the        SHOULDER WIDTH MEASURE-
                              Armani Collezioni, Samuelsohn, Coppley and                     view simplistic. He is more inclined to a theory of the      selection of fabrics and styles. Made-to-measure orders take six to     precise colour or style a man is seeking in a suit is not

PHILIPPE LEBIHAN, MADE-TO-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     MENT, A “POINT TO POINT”
MEASURE CO-ORDINATOR          Ermenegildo Zegna, among others – have built their             “eclectic male,” a man who dresses casually on some          eight weeks for delivery.                                               represented in the store’s ready-to-wear selection. The      MEASUREMENT IS TAKEN
(LEFT), SIMULATES THE DRAPE   ready-to-wear reputations on impeccable styling and            days, more formally on others, as his work dictates.                                                                                 solution is made-to-measure.                                 FROM ONE SHOULDER TO THE
OF A SUPER 100s FABRIC        superb standards of quality. Precisely the same standards      Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that the tide has turned         Sansone                                                                                                                              OTHER, WITH THE JACKET ON.
OVER THE SHOULDER OF          are brought to bear when they create a made-to-measure         back toward suits. Young men who haven’t worn                Nello Sansone, master tailor, who works out of Harry Rosen’s            The Process
ROBERT KENNEDY, MANAGER,      jacket or suit. With made-to-measure, however,                 many of them are discovering the buoyant feeling and         Scotia Plaza store, creates a high-quality garment that has won         Getting fitted for a first made-to-measure suit takes        A NUMBER OF MEASUREMENTS

HARRY ROSEN SARTORIA          manufacturers can offer a greater choice of fabrics and        flattering silhouette a well-tailored garment can give.      him a loyal clientele among our customers. Made by Coppley to           a little time, but once all a man’s dimensions and           ARE TAKEN, STARTING WITH
(RIGHT). THIS PROVIDES OUR    styling details, change measurements in the cutting            “They rely on their sales associate to understand their      Nello’s own stylistic criteria, these garments can be delivered         preferences are on file, the process becomes simplicity      THE CHEST, FOLLOWED BY
CLIENT WITH A VISUAL AID,     and assembly and also adjust for any variances in the          physical proportions,” explains Harry, “and to suggest       in about three weeks.                                                   itself. Depending upon how much time has elapsed             THE WAIST AND SEAT.
ALLOWING HIM TO RELATE TO     customer’s figure, following the meticulous instructions       options that disguise any imperfections and make the                                                                                 and whether there have been any changes in his size, he      MEASUREMENT OF THE ARMS,
THE COLOUR AND THE PATTERN.   relayed by his sales associate in the store. The result is a   most of their physique.”                                     Ermenegildo Zegna                                                       need only come into the store to select a fabric for a       INCLUSIVE OF THE CHEST,
                              garment that can be considered a true expression of a                                                                       A family-run company founded in 1910, Zegna has grown from a            subsequent order. Bringing in his most recent purchase       HELPS DETERMINE THE SIZE
                              man’s individuality. And a made-to-measure suit costs          Ready-to-Wear versus Made-to-Measure?                        small textiles firm into a global, vertically integrated corporation    will aid in any refinements in his measurements. That’s      OF THE CLIENT’S UPPER ARMS.
                              only 15 to 20 percent more than the same maker’s               Harry Rosen’s buyers travel the world, meeting the great     dealing in all aspects of luxury clothing. As well as making its own    one reason why Harry Rosen urges first-time customers,
                              ready-to-wear model – a difference that an increasing          designers, studying their ready-to-wear collections,         cloth, Zegna manufactures suits, shirts and ties under the              before they begin the process, to find a sales associate
                              number of men are willing to absorb.                           selecting the fabrics, colours and styling that they feel    Ermenegildo Zegna label. Delivery takes from four to six weeks.         with whom they feel very relaxed and confident. Good
                                                                                             best represent the needs of their customers. Most of the                                                                             associate-client relationships last a lifetime, to the
                              Who Buys Made-to-Measure?                                      clothes men buy are ready-to-wear, and it’s true that        Made-to-measure services are offered year-round.                        great advantage of both sides. More immediately, a
                              Many of Harry Rosen’s made-to-measure clients don’t            many made-to-measure customers could find something          Not all designer collections are available at all Harry Rosen stores.   comfortable rapport helps the customer relax during his
                              need custom treatment because of their size or shape.          ready-made that suited them, with or without the             Prior to every season, trunk show dates for all stores can              fitting. Harry has found that men tend to stand rigidly
                              With a few slight alterations, ready-to-wear garments          in-house alterations that are part of the Harry Rosen        be found at, under What’s New/Trunk Shows.           at attention in front of the mirror – a completely

34 ) h a r r y                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Fall/Winter ’02 ( 35
                                                                                          THE TRUNK SHOW

                                                                                          The term “trunk show” dates from the
                                                                                          era when sales representatives travelled
                                                                                          by train from town to town with a trunk
                                                                                          full of samples. These days, rep and samples may
                                                                                          go separately, but the idea remains. A manufacturer sends
                                                                                          someone – it might be the designer himself – to meet customers
                                                                                          face-to-face and show them selections not currently available in
                                                                                          stores. Clients can also get an advance look at styles and fabrics
                                                                                          that won’t be appearing until the following season. Typically,
                                                                                          special prices apply during trunk shows, and some include discounts
                                                                                          on discontinued fabrics. Long-time customers and new patrons
                                                                                          of made-to-measure look forward especially to J.P.Tilford by
                                                                                          Samuelsohn shows, which Harry likes to conduct himself – a rare
                                                                                          opportunity to see the master in action.


                                                                                          A bespoke suit or jacket is the ultimate
                                                                                          hand-sewn, tailored garment, cut by an                                                       7
                                                                                          individual for an individual. Four years ago, in a
                                              6                                           discreet corner of his Toronto Bloor Street store, Harry Rosen fulfilled                                                                                                                                                8
                                                                                          a long-held desire and reopened a bespoke shop. A small sign identifies
                                                                                          the room as the domain of Sr. Francesco Pecoraro, Master Tailor, a
                                                                                          domain where the walls are lined with oak shelves that hold bolts of

                                                                                          cloth in a variety of qualities ranging up to the world’s most luxurious   THERE IS AN AESTHETIC DIMENSION

THIS MEASUREMENT, TAKEN    different posture than they usually adopt. A natural           suiting and shirting fabrics. Hidden behind a door at the rear is the                                                                  The Future                                                  THE INSEAM AND OUTSEAM
FROM THE GROUND UP,        stance is vital for an accurate fitting.                       archive, where life-size paper patterns record the precise dimensions      TO THE PROCESS, AN ART TO FITTING                           And once that style is established, a sales associate can   MEASUREMENTS ARE TAKEN.
LETS THE ASSOCIATE KNOW        With the sales associate found, the first decision         of regular customers, updated and refined with every fitting, allowing                                                                 easily accommodate and even anticipate a regular            THIS PROVIDES US WITH THE
IF ONE SHOULDER IS LOWER   usually has to do with the cloth. When Harry himself           them to order a new suit without the trouble of an initial fitting.        A MAN PROPERLY.                                             customer’s needs, knowing his measurements, his taste,      “RISE” MEASUREMENT.
THAN THE OTHER.            fits a client, he tells him to forget colour and pattern for   Beyond that is the bustling workshop where a cutter and four master                                                                    how much he likes to spend. If keeping abreast of
                           now and asks how he plans to wear the suit. This helps         tailors turn out one-and-a-half jackets a week per tailor. While                                                                       fashion is important, the latest refinements can be built   THIS GARMENT IS READY FOR
                           establish what weight of fabric will be most appropriate,      assistants handle such time-consuming steps as hand-sewing                 and his father always walked with their hands behind        into a subsequent purchase. If not, buying another suit     A FIRST TRY-ON. NOTE THE
                           what sort of yarn and weave. In the course of the              buttonholes, a tailor gives lapels a permanent roll by stitching           their backs was that their tailor cut their armholes that   can be as simple as choosing a different fabric. It’s       BASTING THREADS OVER THE

                           conversation, he’ll learn of his client’s preferences and      together the canvas and backing fabric with row after row of               way.) Sleeves are checked to make sure the client’s arms    entirely a matter of individual preference – the essence    JACKET. THESE THREADS HOLD
                           whether his taste in tailored clothing is more innovative      herringbone stitches while slowly curling the fabrics against each         are of equal length. Would he like to show a half inch      of made-to-measure.                                         THE WHITE FABRIC “CANVAS”
                           or traditional. Often the customer’s physique will             other – building permanent shape into the garment.                         of cuff at the wrist?                                          Of course, changes will be required as time goes by –    IN PLACE, ALLOWING US TO
                           suggest a manufacturer renowned for particular nuances                                                     Many of his clients also          Next comes “the drop” – the difference between a         few men retain the identical posture and shape from         SIMULATE THE FINAL SHAPE
                           of cut and style; how much the client wishes to spend                                                  request bespoke shirts and silk    man’s chest measurement and his waist. The ready-to-        one decade to the next – but measurements are updated       OF THE JACKET. THIS IS AN
                           is another determining factor. Customers can choose                                                    ties, but suits are what keep      wear Average Man with a 42 regular chest has a 36-inch      each time a customer orders another garment. And the        IMPORTANT STAGE IN
                           from at least seven Harry Rosen made-to-measure                                                        Sr. Francesco so busy. First       waist, but the client’s waist is a 33. Duly noted. This     industry itself is growing increasingly sophisticated.      ENSURING THE FABRIC IS
                           suppliers, from Samuelsohn to Ermenegildo Zegna.                                                       comes the initial consultation     will be the most flattering jacket he has ever owned.       On the far horizon lies a machine – a sort of tailor’s      PROPORTIONED CORRECTLY
                               The next step is to find the “try-on garment,” a                                                   and fitting, during which             Time for the trousers. The length of the leg will be     CAT scan, which Harry Rosen has seen in action. The         TO THE CLIENT’S TORSO.
                           ready-to-wear jacket in a neutral fabric that is closest to                                            measurements are taken, fabric     looked after later: far more important to ultimate          customer strips to his underwear and steps into a box
                                                                                                                            SR. FRANCESCO PECORARO

                           the customer’s size. This is where the sales associate’s                                               chosen and the customer’s          comfort is “the rise” – essentially the distance between    the size of a phone booth. Scanners record his actual
                           expertise and experience really come into their own –                                                  expectations discussed and         a man’s waistline and crotch, if you could run a tape       body, translate the data and send it directly to the
                           judgement that owes as much to the eye as the tape                                                     noted down. Usually, two more      down through the centre of his body. Again, a pair of       computerized cutting table. “Will this be a better, more
                           measure. The try-on garment serves as a guideline,                                                     fittings follow. The whole         “try-on” trousers is found and used as a template.          accurate product,” Harry asks? Eventually, he thinks, it
                           accentuating points where corrections are needed. Those                                                process takes at least eight          All in all, 16 different measurements are taken. It      probably will. “The eye – and even the tape measure –
                           shoulders are slightly high, creating a roll behind the                                                weeks, with the average price      sounds like it must take hours, but the whole process       can distort things.” On the other hand, he says, “the
                           collar and pulling open the vents at the bottom. Easily        of a suit falling between $3,000 and $5,000 – but the final prize is       can be completed in less than 30 minutes. And now           numbers only tell me part of the story. There is an
                           solved. One shoulder is about three-eighths of an inch         worth waiting for. It might be the quality of the fabric that brings       there are only the aesthetic decisions left to be made.     aesthetic dimension to the process, an art to fitting a
                           lower than the other. No problem. The client is long-          a man to bespoke, or perhaps he enjoys the almost invisible                Single-breasted or double-breasted? Two buttons or          man properly, that no machine can acquire. I know how
                           waisted – his seat shows under the jacket. These are all       top-stitching over the seams, the perfectly aligned checks or stripes      three? Vents or no vents? Should there be cuffs on the      to get that ‘I look good’ expression on your face when
                           small issues that can be righted.                              where a sleeve meets the body, the stem-holder on the underside of         pants? Surgeon’s cuffs with buttons that actually open?     you see yourself in the mirror at the final fitting, and
                               Every detail is assessed and adjustments ordered.          the lapel to catch a rosebud’s stem… These are the details that            A stem-holder under the lapel to hold a boutonniere         that doesn’t come from the tape.”
                           Should the armholes be deepened or the sleeves pitched         delight all those who appreciate the craft and tradition of bespoke.       in place? These are the touches that add finesse to
                           a bit forward or back? (Prince Charles once told a                                                                                        a made-to-measure garment, that help a man find his
                           meeting of London’s guild of tailors that the reason he                                                                                   own inimitable style.

36 ) h a r r y                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fall/Winter ’02 ( 37

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