Sunday, September 27, 2009

Workshop Visit - The Bespoke Tailor

Tailors abound, but good ones are few, and those who do bespoke tailoring are rarer still. It use to be that bespoke tailoring was the norm, when one could speak to their tailor and give order - to bespeak - for a garment to be made from scratch, according to their wishes, for them and only them.

Let us take a look at the workroom of a local tailor who is keeping bespoke alive and well in Vancouver:

A backdrop of natural light, exposed brick and wood highlights the expansive worktable, five sewing machines, two steam presses, bolts of fabric, countless spools of thread, tailor's forms and all the other tools necessary to a tailor's art.

Customer-tailor communication is vital for the tailor to deliver what the customer seeks. All aspects of a garment's design are open for discussion. Ideas take shape. Sketches turn into paper patterns.

In the making of a suit jacket, an initial fitting is carried out with a cotton garment cut to a customer's pattern. Any changes in fit and silhouette are made to the paper patterns as needed. Only then is the cloth for the actual suit cut.

More fittings follow, changes are made on the actual jacket, and the paper patterns are updated as needed. Countless hand stitches later we arrive at the embodiment of what the customer asked for. On this example, the pattern is matched from collar, down through the lapel, across the chest and through the sleeve.

Of note:

* A suit takes around 40 hours to make. All aspects of making a suit are done in-house, the majority of which are accomplished by hand.

* Suits, jackets, pants, shirts and overcoats lend themselves to bespoke.

* Clients are encouraged to be discerning, know what they want, and ask for what they want.

* This particular tailor has yet to make a black suit.

My thanks goes out to David Wilkes of David Wilkes Bespoke for sharing his time.

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