When I received the news that Gieves & Hawkes had relaunched their Made-to-Measure service, I booked an appointment straight away to see how the new blocks would measure up.
Bespoke will always be the epitome of traditional tailoring, but increasingly advanced made-to-measure services has made it possible to enter the world of to custom suiting at a more accessible level.
Gieves & Hawkes just relaunched their MTM system with fitting blocks that have been completely redeveloped. “They now offer an enhanced fit – well suited to today’s stylish, international man,” says creative director John Harrison. It is defined by well-balanced lapels, an elegant waisted silhouette, sharp-cut shoulders and a subtly longer jacket length. The new block is in short a little more relaxed than Gieves & Hawkes’ traditional standard, but no less elegant for it.
I booked an appointment straight away to see how the new system would measure up.
The Made-to-Measure Tailoring Process:
The first consultation is straightforward and can be split into 3 parts; selecting the cloth, having your measurements taken and choosing the details. It is a simple process but does involve many decisions to be made in a short amount of time. So it does pay off doing some research on which kind of suit you are after before turning up at your appointment. Instagram and Pinterest can be good sources of inspiration and help you put together a mood board of the colours, textures and cuts that you like. If you are still not sure about the details when arriving, it is always great to start with asking advice from the MTM consultant who will be able to guide the choices depending on your requirements.
With a focused edit of 16 fabric collections, you are as a made-to-measure client spoilt for choice: options range from super fine wools, soft flannels to breezy seersucker fabrics.
This choice is a matter of weight – lightweight (typically 8oz-9oz), heavyweight (14oz-15oz), or something in between. A 12oz is good trans-seasonal choice. Of course it is also a matter of colour, weave and pattern – chalk stripe, bold or subtle checks and so forth.
Your choice of cloth is the main factor affecting the final price of your suit. Next – you will also at this stage need to select the level of construction you require – half-canvassed or fully-canvassed.
I had ahead of my appointment already decided that I wanted two suits for the summer’s many garden parties and sport events. I wanted two beautiful three-piece suits that would work well on their own and together as separates to mix and match. For the first suit I decided on a heavy Irish linen in an elegant cream. For the second, I went with a brown linen with a Prince of Wales check.
This step is slightly more intimate. Your tailor will now be taking several of your measurements including your chest, waist, seat. He will then have you put on a fitting garment that is used as a template to sculpture the suit after your body’s unique characteristics. By observing your body, he will address your build, posture and symmetry. It is for instance normal for a lot of men to have one shoulder higher than the other – for me it is my right.
What’s more exciting about this step, this is where you get to form the silhouette of the suit. I always like my jacket’s length to cover the seat and end just at knuckle of my thumb. I am very particular about my trousers; my preference is a high-rise with a wide fit and two forward pleats which creates a pleasant full drape.
“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.”
The last step of the consultation might be the one that requires the most time. It is now time to choose all the details that makes the suit your own. You will have to decide on lapel style and width; belt loops, side adjusters or brace buttons; trouser turn-ups (cuffs) or a plain finish; type of pockets; ticket pocket or none; and many more.
I decided on a wide notch lapel to give the suit a more masculine and powerful look. I chose to have side adjusters and brace buttons; a 2-inch turn-up on my trousers and a ticket pocket.
Once these three steps have been completed your consultation is over. Your tailor will send your measurements and style choices to the production facilities. The suit will there get a pattern which the cloth is cut from. The process there after requires several man made elements and the suit is carefully manufactured before sent to London 6-8 weeks later.
The Final Fitting:
At this stage the suit is pretty much finished. The final fitting of the suit takes place in the store where Gieves & Hawkes’s in-house tailor will do the finishing of the trouser length and other possible small alterations.
I was pleased to arrive at the second fitting to review my two new garments. All the fundamentals were perfect – the balance front and back, side to side, the clean close fit around the neck. The only things we changed were to balance the sleeve length and put a little extra width into the trousers.
Lastly, I would like to say that I am very pleased with the choice of cloth. I have always wanted a cream three-piece summer suit. It makes a striking statement when wearing all three pieces together, but you can also break it up with a checked waistcoat or pair the trousers with a blazer.
Yours sincerely, Mathias le Fèvre