Tailors Dummy by Igor Ovsyannykov

6 Reasons you can’t afford to buy a cheap made to measure suit

Is price truly a good indicator of quality for a made to measure suit? Should you spend more on a made to measure suit? In short, yes. But there are some substantial reasons behind it.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: you get what you pay for. Despite the excellent marketing efforts of many in the fashion industry, quality and style can’t be bought cheaply. And this applies just as much to made to measure suits as it does to those beautiful hand-crafted leather shoes you saw in Selfridges.

When deciding whether to buy off-the-peg or made to measure, the price is often a significant consideration. This is made more difficult when you can buy a ready-to-wear designer suit for the same price – if not less – than a made to measure version from a Savile Row tailor. But so often, men who choose the designer version end up paying for the brand name and find out too late that they have compromised on quality and fit.

Similarly, gents who seek cheap tailoring on overseas holidays are promised several quality suits on the basis of one fitting and end up with a suitcase full of quite average items. But why exactly is this?

We suggest that you pay that little bit more for a made to measure suit because:

1. More expensive made to measure suits use high-quality fabric

You can’t have a suit made without using an amazing fabric. It’s the star of the suit and is something you should be proud of. If you short-change yourself with cheaper fabrics, then it will become visibly obvious when the suit looks stiff or starts to shine after only a short time like department store versions.  Cheaper fabrics will also shorten the life of your suit.

You can tell a fabric will shine or look dreadful after a few wears if it has a mix of polyester or some sort of synthetic fabric (God forbid!). Look at the label or ask the tailor before signing off on your order.

For durability and quality, we recommend pure worsted wools with a weight of around 11-12oz. They are matt to the finish and therefore will resist getting a shine too quickly. Words like ‘high twist’ are great as it means the fabric resists creases and is an incredibly strong weave, even when the fabric is much lighter in weight.

We use fabrics from reputable suppliers which are primarily made in England (like the beautiful Tweed below). The suit will cost more due to the quality of the fabric but we believe that this is something you simply can’t compromise on, and if you do you’ll quickly understand why it was a bad mistake.

All of our fabrics are ‘rub tested’: meaning we use a special machine that rubs the fabric at high speed up to 64,000 times to test that the fabric will not be destroyed easily. Anything that doesn’t withstand this test is not used.

Tweed lining of a suit

2. The internal parts of a more expensive suit will last longer

What’s inside your suit is a significant factor in its longevity. Using glue (a cheap way to adhere fabric) means your suit will bubble pretty swiftly after only a few trips to the dry cleaner.

Having either a stitched half canvas or full floating canvas in your suit takes it one step closer to the quality level of a bespoke suit.

diagrams of suit constructions

3. The fit is better with a more expensive suit

Cheaper suits often will not fit as well as more expensive versions, cut by more experienced tailors. Funnily enough, the fit of a suit can have an enormous impact on its longevity. If it’s cut badly it will not only feel uncomfortable but it may pull in ways that quickly ruin the fabric. For example, if a rise is too low in a pair of trousers, when you’re sitting down regularly it does create a strain in that area and can wear down more quickly than it should.

Suit schematic

4. You can be assured the suit is locally made

The location of where you suit is made is a huge indicator of quality. The further abroad your suit goes to be constructed the less likely it is to be made well. Those ‘fly-in’ tailors who hire a hotel room to do fittings send measurements back to factories in China, Thailand, and India who rely on high volume production techniques and low workforce costs to make money.

Small companies and local tailor-run stores will take longer to make the suit, but you can rest assured that their techniques and materials are of a high quality.

Spools of coloured thread

5. Craftsmanship takes time

In addition to material costs, you are paying for attention to detail and quality production processes. A made to measure suit should take between six and eight weeks to complete to a standard of perfection. While it’s tempting to go with a tailor who can promise you a suit in half that time, it’s highly likely that shortcuts will be taken to meet that timeframe and result in a lower quality suit.

Sewing machine foot

6. Your suit will be made by an experienced tailor

Cheap tailoring tends to be the product of a workforce who are less experienced, less skilled and come and go from employers frequently. This may mean you will have more fittings than necessary, and therefore more tweaks, making your suit look less sharp than it should. The skill for understanding a person’s body shape takes years to perfect and isn’t simply about taking measurements.

When purchasing a made to measure suit, you are purchasing more than a piece of fabric: it’s a foundation piece for your wardrobe and something that you should love to wear. When it comes to suits, just as for any other investment, it’s a case of “Buy cheap, buy twice”. Spend less initially and you will probably end up dipping into your pocket repeatedly in the long run to replace suits that haven’t lasted due to inferior fabric, have cleaned poorly, or worse – are ill-fitting and just don’t feel right.  And we both know that you are worth more than that.

Mannequins wearing suits

Read about what it’s really like to have a suit made at Alexandra Wood and then book an appointment to discuss having your own made to measure suit made with us.

Words by Katrina Strathearn @ Veracity Content