Bespoke remains the backbone of traditional mens tailoring, but new made-to-measure services are expanding the horizons of personalised style on a more accessible level, with an increasing number of tailors offering made-to-measure for suiting and casualwear in an impressive range of styles and fabrics.
Norton & Sons’ new made-to-measure range includes regular, slim and athletic-fit suits in the label’s characteristic roomier silhouette, and a deconstructed jacket. “These are the most popular off-the-peg styles, but they can can now be ordered exactly as the customer likes in terms of fabric, fit and detailing,” says director Alexander Lewis. Orders are made in Mauritius and return in five to seven weeks. I ordered a strong 10oz Huddersfield grey/cream houndstooth suit with wide, straight, pleated trousers that have a hint of Tommy Nutter’s signature style – and it is fantastic. The deconstructed jacket is most striking in hefty cloths without a lining, and with bound seams in hues that complement the cloth – such as a mole/grey windowpane (£990). The cardigan-style cut works well with a contrasting trouser such as mink-coloured or russet cords (from £460), while brushed-worsted check flannel jackets (£990) look great with plain super 110s trousers (from £540).
Thom Sweeney’s ready-to-wear workshop in Italy can also take orders for made-to-measure versions (from £1,500) of the tailor’s signature cuts, with their distinctly roped shoulders or light structures. The fabrics are a big plus: “Our favourites include the Fresco range by Hardy Minnis, or Barberis Drapers’ worsteds, which are hard-wearing but drape beautifully,” says co-founder Thom Whiddett. For separates, I like the Loro Piana wool/cashmere flannel (jacket, £1,425) and the lightweight wool/silk/linen blends (jacket, £1,180, trousers, £395). Whiddett also showed me Loro Piana’s gorgeous Weimaraner-grey cashmere cord and, drawn to its 1970s cool, I immediately ordered a double-breasted suit (£1,980) with a 21in-wide, straight-cut trouser and jacket with raised shoulder seam. It came back in seven weeks and is splendid – a contemporary-meets-retro classic.
London-based Australian tailor Patrick Johnson has recently expanded his made-to-measure suiting to embrace outerwear, including a smartly casual cashmere belted caban jacket (£895), a crisp Irish-linen field jacket (£395) and an elegant Japanese-cotton utility vest (£215). Customisation extends to pocket detailing and a choice of trims, linings, buttons and monogramming.
More relaxed made-to-measure is also the order of the day at Mr Start in Shoreditch. “We get so many clients saying they don’t want to wear a traditional suit but still want to look great,” says Philip Start, whose soft and unstructured tailoring gives his suits, made in the Wensum factory, a laidback look. Custom orders include a navy stretch blazer (£850) and fine chalk-coloured suit (£1,200), or a blazer (£800) finished with white buttons that fits like a smart cardigan, and a suit jacket (£770) with a soft shoulder, made from wool woven at the Vitale Barberis Canonico mill in Italy.
Fashion brands now offering made-to-measure include Pal Zileri. Construction takes place in the same Quinto Vicentino factory as the ready-to-wear by a specially skilled and dedicated team, says new creative director Rocco Iannone. A “rush” VIP service means suits (£2,330) and jackets (from £1,250) can be delivered in as little as two weeks. The range also extends to beachwear and traditional dishdasha styles (prices on request) in refined fabrics.
Of course, Pal Zileri follows a trail blazed by brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, which now does both made-to-measure suiting and casualwear in a number of stores; Dolce & Gabbana, which now has a made-to-measure service in its newly redesigned Old Bond Street store; and Armani, which dedicated a large area of its Sloane Street shop to made-to-measure services when it reopened last April. The new store has three suit styles – straight Wall Street, fitted Soho and unstructured Upton (all from £2,200) – available to order in 600 fabrics, with delivery in five weeks. I recommend Armani classic “greiges”, teals or textured navies, and for casual jackets (£1,400), the sportier fabrics with a slight stretch. I’ve ordered a waffle stretch blazer for a client who has been envying mine for years. The brand also recently introduced a “made to order” line – with fewer custom specifications and a reduced choice of cloth – which it can turn around in about two weeks.