Bespoke (derived from the verb to bespeak, to “speak for something”) is a term employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer’s specification (personalized or tailored). While applied to many items now, from computer software to luxury car appointments, the term historically was applied only to tailored clothing and other parts of men’s apparel involving measurement and fitting.
The distinguishing points of bespoke tailoring are the buyer’s total control over the fabric used, the features and fit, and the way the garment should be made. More generally, bespoke describes a high degree of customization, and involvement of the end-user, in the production of the good.
Savile Row is a shopping street in Mayfair, Central London famous for its traditional men’s bespoke tailoring. The term “bespoke” is understood to have originated in Savile Row. Every gentleman should indulge in the experience a bespoke suit. I highly recommend Kilgour.
A bespoke suit at Kilgour is the gentleman’s equivalent of haute couture, requiring some 80 man hours to complete. A set of measurements is taken for each customer’s specific shape, creating a unique pattern individual to the wearer, drafted from scratch. Much of the intricate work is not apparent, yet this is what ensures the suit hangs beautifully and with utmost comfort.
Kilgour bespoke suits are measured, cut, produced and basted entirely at their premises at 8, Savile Row, where the tailors can be seen working at their benches from the street above. I have had the luxury of getting a few suits made there, most recently a tux. I can truly attest to the quality, fit, finish and the sheer pleasure derived from donning a Kilgour garment. Store Manager Richard Fuller and Master Cutter Will Adams are true gentlemen and a pleasure to deal with. If you can’t make it to London, they do visit the US from time to time.
Do watch this video promoting another Savile Row icon Gieves & Hawkes. It is well made and provides a good feel for what defines bespoke. Enjoy.
If you live on the East Coast but want a Savile Row experience, give Stephen Kempson a try. He is based in New York but raised in London. His clothing is firmly entrenched in the classic design principles and tailoring associated with Savile Row.