14/10/2016 09:47 BST | Updated 11/10/2017 06:12 BST

Is The Whole Concept Of The Bespoke Suit Actually A Con?

Are you having the wool pulled over your eyes when you're being told you're getting a bespoke suit, when it's really made-to-measure?


The answer is a resounding NO! according to award-winning Savile Row tailor Alexandra Wood whose clients appear on GQ's best dressed list.

At a time when men are spending more time and money than ever before to get their wardrobes right, this is a ticklish issue.


And speaking of time, that's one of the major differences between bespoke and made-to-measure - the hours spent creating the garment.


"Time-wise, the most cost-efficient suits are the off-the-rack models," says Wood.  "They're cut to different sizes that men try on until they find one that fits."


That can set you back a few hundred pounds.  The next step up is the made-to-measure suit which involves a tailor - so naturally, the price goes up to between 895 to 1500 pounds.  


"Your measurements are taken and entered into a computer-aided design system, which will allow for your fabric to be cut to precision," says Wood.  


Sounds impressive, but not particularly personal - and that's what the bespoke suit is all about. It's a one of a kind. It's yours and everybody knows it.

"A bespoke suit will make you look sharper, fresher and slimmer and is constructed to last too," says Wood.



(Photo by Richard Grassie)

"By definition, bespoke clothing is cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer. It is made for you and no one else."


So why will a bespoke suit cost you between 2300 and 3000 pounds? 


"If you figured it out by the hours that go into it, you might consider it a bargain!


"I start out measuring you for a bespoke suit with a paper pattern of your body.  These are your exact measurements, literally within a fraction of an inch.


"Then I spend hours getting it just right, chalking directly onto the cloth and cutting by hand.  Some of my suits take from three to six months to perfect, with lots of fine tuning along the way.  When it's finished it's as unique to the customer as his fingerprints.


"That's the only drawback to my bespoke suits - you can't lend them to your friends, even if you think you're the same size, because it's designed to fit you, and only you.

''Bespoke has the added advantage of playing to your strengths, moulding into the body and hiding a multitude of sins all at the same time. Whereas a made to measure suit, because of the construction, will be that bit more rigid."


Suddenly, that bespoke price tag doesn't seem quite so outrageous.


"It's probably a good idea for my bespoke customers to come to me at their ideal weights," notes Wood.  "A man can gain or lose a lot of weight in six months, and the last thing we want to do after all that meticulous work is go back to the drawing board!"


And it's worth noting that during the many hours it takes to make a bespoke suit, a powerful relationship can build up between tailor and customer.


"I like to dress up in a tailored suit from time to time, and there's a tailor I go to in Naples who's fantastic," actor Hugh Jackman is quoted as saying. 


"But if I told anyone his name, I'd have to kill them!"


Alexandra Wood understands Jackman's passion, but hopes her customers don't feel quite the same way.


"I want to continue making bespoke suits, and I want the men I make them for to tell their friends," she says.  "Word of mouth is the best advertising of all in this business.


"But please, Mr. Jackman, feel free to drop by for a fitting," she says with a laugh.  "You don't have to tell a soul, and neither will I!"