Is Bespoke Always Better?

Words by: Andrew Williams


I spotted this jacket on a recent visit to Nino’s. I liked it straight away. Made in Italy it’s pure linen with a floating canvas, working button holes, satin lined and hand finished. I also like the contrasting dark brown piping on the pockets and stitching around the button holes.

When Nino told me the price of £560 I instantly thought, ‘But it’s not bespoke. Is it worth it?” I suspect my reaction would be a common one.  Perhaps the real question is, am I right to think that way?

I once put this issue to Adrian Holdsworth, the owner of luxury menswear shop Volpe in Pimlico. His core business is off the peg and made to measure suits which range from £450 right up to £2000. Revealingly he says his customers want shape and comfort, minus the fussiness of bespoke. He also made the point that, “the internal construction of a [English] bespoke suit can be too heavy. Many tailors aren’t used to working with fewer layers, lighter interlining and lighter horse hair. As such a traditional solid construction doesn’t always lend itself to lighter weight fabrics”. He makes a good point and one I’ve heard before.

There is another angle to consider. Where I would see possibility in choosing lapel widths and shape, linings, cloth types and weights, padding types and more, others may simply see a mine field. These men aren’t lesser beings for not knowing. They just want to look good and have someone remove the head aches for them.

Does everybody need bespoke? If you have a fairly standard body shape then in terms of fit you’re unlikely to notice the difference between one of Nino’s jackets and one you had made. The jacket above has a beautiful silhouette, high arm holes and narrow sleeves. What more could you ask for?

I suppose the real point is that it doesn’t matter whether you have a wardrobe full of bespoke or none at all. Provided what you do buy is well made, fits properly and suits you, you can class yourself a well dressed man.