How Honest Is Your Tailor

Tailored suits are not made in a factory, and you don’t learn tailoring by merely reading a book…


How Honest Is Your Tailor? Look beyond the flash location and a salesman pretending to be a tailor.

If you are paying for a tailor-made suit, it should be exactly that….tailor made and not sent to a factory.

My intention here is to give you a few key pointers to ensure that this does not happen to you. After all, why should you pay for a Mercedes and only get a Reliant Robin ?

A good eye can spot bespoke a mile off. Here are some pointers:

  • Price, it is extremely difficult to make a quality UK made bespoke suit for less than four figures. The key word here is QUALITY. The main cost of a Bespoke suit is time and labour and lots and lots of it. My bespoke suits take at least 65 hours of labour for me to make.
  • Location, don’t be fooled by a Savile Row address. There are quite a lot of cloth merchants that have their showrooms located on Savile Row with adjoining fitting rooms. Any tailor that purchases said merchants fabric has access to the fitting rooms on Savile Row, these are a shop front nothing is made there.
  • Have you actually SEEN your tailor make anything? I don’t mean prance around with a tape measure around their neck, or unpicking a bit of white cotton baste. I mean have you physically seen them make any complete garment?
  • Ask to see where your garments are made and ask to look around the workroom. A tailors workroom does not have lots of complicated sewing machines, that’s a factory. My tailors workroom is an upside down type of place and is as far removed from a salesroom stuffed with shirts, magazines, ties, cuff links etc as I am from marrying Charlize Theron.
  • Out breast pocket, on a factory jacket will have zigzag stitching down the sides and no hand stitching on the top or ¼” in from the sides
  • The flower hole on the lapel of the ready to wear suit will be about ½” long. Look on the back of the buttonholes, machine buttonholes have a neat, regular zig-zag shape, hand buttonholes are irregular with odd gaps.
    how honest is your tailor

    A hand made button hole worked by Des.

  • The so-called hand stitched edges will be very pronounced and deep, true hand stitched edges are on the very edge of all the outer pockets, lapels and collar and even on the vents in the side or centre back and are very lightly done.
  • On the outside jacket pocket flaps lift them up to see the consistent machine stitching on the underside.
  • how honest is your tailor

    Machine made pocket and flap. Machine stitched edges.

  • The collar is a good place to look, especially the melton under-collar, the piece under the cloth collar, is it stitched in a zigzag ? Then it’s machine done.
  • Look inside at the lining, if it’s machined into the jacket then it’s not bespoke. You can easily distinguish hand stitching from machine stitching on the lining as the seams tend to be “laid” over each other. Turn the coat sleeves inside out and if the lining has a top stitched seam then it’s a ‘bagged’ out factory made suit.

    • The inner pockets on factory garments are normally only in the lining section, on bespoke they are about 1″ into the cloth facing.
    • On a factory-made jacket, the jetting on the outside pockets, the small strips of cloth on the outside flaps, are always ribbed and bulky. On bespoke jackets they are flat and totally smooth.
    • At the fitting stage both sleeves should be in the jacket.
    • Don’t be fooled by patterns in a workroom, they mean nothing. Ask to see your pattern. A stock pattern is not unique to you.
    • If your garment is at the try-on stage, make sure that you have a full canvas all the way down the front section of your coat. It should not be fused or glued or have anything stuck on the cloth. Fusing is either black or white in colour.

    So here is my top tip? Check the under-collar on a finished jacket – the zigzag stitching here on the black under collar is a dead giveaway.

    I hope you are now rushing to your wardrobe to check your suits. Were they sold as bespoke? Are they bespoke or factory made-to-measure?

    Remember: A real tailor has nothing to hide from you. So what is stopping you? Drop me an email, or give me a call for an informal friendly chat to discuss your tailoring requirements, anything from a business suit to full evening wear. I look forward to hopefully meeting you in the near future.