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And that's bespoke..

Bespoke tailoring is perhaps the most misunderstood and at times even highly abused two words. Arjun Khanna's take on the 17th century style.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2009 13:10 IST
Style patrol | Arjun Khanna

Bespoke tailoring is perhaps the most misunderstood and at times even highly abused two words. It's a topic I've addressed numerous times before and really have a very simple take on it.

To really understand bespoke one needs to look back at its history which dates back to the early 17th century when a customer ordering a garment from a tailor would select and reserve a length of cloth, which was said to have then, 'been spoken for' or 'bespoken'.

Be specific
Today bespoke means made to personal specific requirements. It entails meticulous attention to detail, immaculate cutting and making skills, and a wide choice of the highest quality fabrics.

Bespoke is not exactly a new term, but it seems to be gaining in popularity. For many, bespoke tailoring means only one thing - custom tailoring. Well, it is custom tailoring and at the same time it isn't. Custom tailoring put very simply is 'made-to-measure', and made to measure is not bespoke tailoring. A made-to-measure item is something that has been engineered from a standard item (off the shelf) in certain measurements and details. Bespoke, on the other hand, is made from scratch to your exact specifications.

An example I have given numerous times before is that of James Bond, known for his perfectly cut and fitted bespoke Brioni tuxedos, asks the bartender in Casino Royale to make an exact order, "Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel." That's bespoke!

Full authority
As a bespoke tailor myself, if a person comes into my store to get a bespoke suit made, I will start from scratch and the first thing I will do is discuss with him is what type of suit he is looking for, and its uses and also which type of style and fit would be most suitable. Then he is presented with a wide range of fabrics to choose from. And this is just the beginning.

It is also very important to establish a relationship with each client built on mutual respect and understanding as this plays a vital role in the entire process. The suit is not just made for the body, but for the man and his personal, unique lifestyle. A bespoke suit calls for numerous fittings and over 32 measurements and fit details.

Proud owner
In India, as is the case anywhere else in the world, there is an innate sense of pride and luxury associated with owning a piece of bespoke apparel. And rightly so. From the very first step of choosing the fabric to the buttons, the client has a free reign on the exact elements he wishes his suit to be hand-crafted of. It is the perfect balance that gives
a hand-crafted suit its unique and lasting elegance.

If you want to know how much a bespoke suit will cost.. it's the skill and passion in the making of such highly detailed, hand-crafted garments that dictates the investment. Not many understand this though.

First Published: Feb 16, 2009 13:04 IST