Last week one of our new clients brought a suit in for alteration – not one of ours, but we try to help out. I was glad to have the opportunity to spend a little time with this garment because it reminded me of some of the differences between the processes of bespoke and ready-made, some of which are not always obvious at the moment of purchase.
The first thing I have to say is that despite the fact that the garment was a ready-made item, it was not an inexpensive garment and had been purchased from one of the more recognisable suppliers.
In alterring a ready-made suit one is faced immediately with problems caused by its construction. Rather than canvasses and inlays being basted together, and seams being bound together with thread, in the interests of mass production the process of attachment is now the use of glue. This is not to say that fusing doesn’t have a place, but if you are likely to need any adaptation in a garment – let’s face it we all tend to change shape – once a garment has been fused there is little you can do.
There is another matter I have noticed with regard to the use of such glues. After a suit has been taken to a dry cleaners a number of times, and particularly when a steam iron has been used on a garment, this combination of chemicals and robust pressing techniques soon starts to weaken the adhesive properties and you will notice that the garment will start to ‘bubble’ particularly on the lapel.
Finally, it is usually the case that in a bespoke suit allowances are left within the seams for any later adjustments that need to be made. In most ready-made suits, largely in the interests of economy, there is generally very little additional fabric available to allow any ‘easing’. So other than changing the length of sleeve or trouser leg there is little one can do.
I can see the argument for buying ready-made garments particularly in these financially challenging times however it is interesting to note the number of articles appearing in the press recently suggesting that it is now better to ‘buy up’ into a better and more reliable quality range than go for cheaper alternatives.