'People don't want to look the same': A guide to buying a bespoke suit

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This was published 9 months ago

'People don't want to look the same': A guide to buying a bespoke suit

By Stephen Crafti

"Less is more" is a well-known mantra for many architects and designers. And in the case of fashion, a bespoke suit is considerably more pleasurable to both purchase and wear, than simply generic clobber straight off a rack.

“People don’t want to look the same. They’re after individuality, whether they’re looking to buy a suit, a jacket or a pair of trousers,” says Michel Boutin, director of operations and strategy for The Bespoke Corner Tailors.

The Bespoke Corner Tailors offers a personalised tailoring service in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Bespoke Corner Tailors offers a personalised tailoring service in Sydney and Melbourne.Credit:The Bespoke Corner Tailors

Established 10 years ago in Sydney’s Regent Street, Paddington, and opening in Melbourne two years ago in Toorak Road, South Yarra, Boutin stresses the word ‘service’, rather than fashion or trends. By appointment only, men wishing to purchase a suit start the process with an hour-long consultation, including selecting fabrics, predominantly from England and Italy, and even the type of stitching preferred. The discussion includes soft or structured shoulders, lapel widths down to buttons and lining. Boutin highlights the difference between ‘made-to-order’ and ‘made-to-measure’, with the latter the basis for the business started by the Sydney directors, Miles Wharton and master tailor Rami Mikhael.

“The first approach is simply adjusting a suit to fit one’s body shape. With us, we take 36 different measurements then the drawings and measurements are sent to our factory in Tuscany,” says Boutin, who then makes the subtle adjustments on the suit’s return Down Under.

One of Blair Archibald's current designs available at Masons.

One of Blair Archibald's current designs available at Masons. Credit:Nathan Monzones

“One’s body shape can change in six weeks (the time it takes to produce the suit), or the fabric may just naturally drape an additional half a centimetre,” he adds. And with this process comes the cost, starting at $1200 for a bespoke suit and heading north to $30,000 (including GST).

The first suit created by The Bespoke Corner Tailors often acts as a catalyst for building a wardrobe, whether that be an additional pair of trousers to go with the suit, a shirt or an overcoat. Boutin’s clients are also difficult to pigeonhole, with the demographics being broad: from young professionals to a recent gentleman in his nineties.

Designer Blair Archibald, who trained at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), established his own label in 2014 and is the epitome of bespoke. He went onto receive numerous accolades including the prestigious Premier’s Design Award in 2018 for his bespoke army-style coat, and he produces one collection each year, aligned to the European calendar. His menswear collection is available exclusively to Masons in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

The only Australian designer represented in the exclusive store, Archibald shares the clothing racks with Yohji Yamamoto, Maison Margiela, Jil Sander and Vivienne Westwood. “It was quite a surreal experience when I saw my name on the brand board in Masons’ front window last season,” says Archibald, whose first collection of jackets, trousers and separates at Masons sold out in a few weeks.

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Archibald’s tight collections, which often include vintage fabrics and unusual construction, can be customised to suit the Masons’ customer. “Having a garment that’s bespoke gives the wearer their own voice. With the various fittings (varying from two up to five), they also feel part of the design process,” says Archibald, who separates start at $220 and up to $1400 (including GST) for a knee-length coat.

One of the coats in the current collection features a series of fabric rosettes at the back, hand-stitched and made from some of his recycled designs. What starts as a toile morphs over the fittings into a bespoke garment that is unique in the client’s wardrobe. Monochromic, with a dash of deep violet, the joy not only comes from seeing the finished item, but also experimenting with ideas, such as a knee-length striped shirt with a built-in cummerbund, ideal for a wedding party with a more adventurous aesthetic.

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Marco Siracusa, owner of Masons, appreciates Archibald’s unique designs, but also his ability to customise the designs once his garments are on the store’s racks, something that’s not possible with the other designers he stocks. “Each garment, whether it’s a T-shirt or a coat is beautifully made. And he’s just as considered on the production side, which aligns his collection to some of the world’s leading fashion labels we sell,” says Siracusa, who is delighted to open up again after Melbourne’s months of lockdown. While many businesses have unfortunately closed, others, such as Masons will continue to offer men looking for a point of difference, a place to shop.

Those who experience the pleasure of wearing a bespoke garment generally tend to return for additional pieces that complement their wardrobes. “I think people are starting to purchase less, with the consumer being much more considered now,” says Archibald, who likes to remind himself that even adding a simple pocket can make the wearer more appreciative. “There’s a client that regularly comes into my studio wearing the same jacket. It’s the pocket that was added later that brings him that added pleasure,” says Archibald.

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